After ten days in Italy, it was time to fly back home. The first leg of the journey was scheduled on A330-200 (EY084) and the later on B787-900 (EY206) for which the trip report is already posted.
Online check-in was done for both legs a day prior to the journey and our cab navigated some early morning traffic from city center towards Leonardo da Vinci Fiumicino Airport, arriving at T3 of the airport at 0800hrs for 1050hrs departure.
This airport is Italy’s largest and eighth busiest in Europe. The airport has four runways with the longest being 3900 mtrs and has 4 terminals. The airport is connected to the city by train as well as a four lane express way.
The airport is small and congested. As we entered the crowded terminal, a small Flight Information Display Screen (FIDS) showed Check-in for our flight at counter 255. Just one counter I wondered as we made our way in the congested terminal towards the counter. The lines were long and a lot of South East Asians running from pillar to post finding counters of various airlines. I am not sure if they were migrants or tourists but they sure were connecting on Etihad, Qatar and Emirates – all of whom had flights in the next two and half hours.
Check-in and Airport Experience
There was a lone lady in Etihad uniform who was running around to reduce the wait time and directing passengers on multiple counters as the Alitalia staff took their own sweet time to check-in passengers.
About 5 counters were open for economy class check-in, followed by baggage drop and one counter for Business class. We made our way to the Web Check-in counter, only to be directed towards the business class counter since the lady was on phone. The Alitalia staff at the counter took eternity to complete the check-in process. First the baggage tag came out blank, then the lady expressed displeasure when I informed that I have done a web check in but do not have boarding cards printed out.
Finally the boarding passes were in hand but just for the first leg. I had to inform the same thing again to get boarding passes for the next leg too and we headed for security, which was quick and simple and so was the immigration. The In Stamp at FCO was hardly visible on the passport and the Out stamp would read as 13 instead of 18! None the less, we made our way to area near the gates after exploring some duty free shops but not buying anything.
Following the direction board – we reached a point where we boarded an automated train and went to the island gates within minutes spotting some aircraft during this hop.
The island gates had good seating, but limited shopping and just one café which had a complex system of getting a coupon from another store few steps away. At the gates – Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong, Etihad to Abu Dhabi, Qatar to Doha, Emirates to Dubai, Alitalia to Moscow and American to Philadelphia.
I had never been on a flight which has as many code shares as this one! I patiently noted down all of them.
- Air Portugal TP 6916 (Star Alliance)
- South African Airways SA 2583 (Star Alliance)
- SriLankan Airlines UL 2384 (One World)
- SAS SK8284 (Star Alliance)
- Air Europa UX 3860 (Sky Team)
- Air Malta KM 2129
- Air Seychelles HM 5081 (Etihad Partners)
- Virgin Australia VA 7153 (Etihad Partners)
- Alitalia AZ 7040 (Etihad Partners & Skyteam)
All this would operate as EY 084!
Boarding & Flight
Boarding started at 0950hours, with the first set of people being let in zone wise, before a long queue formed and the airline gave up. We joined in and made our way to a fresh looking airport – with blankets neatly on the seat along with headphones. Boarding was over by 1035 and we pushed back on time at 1050.
The crew had distributed the menu options on ground. Since morning runway 25 was in use for take off and 16R for landings. American A330 which pushed back before us taxied to runway 25 while we waited for that bird to take off before we crossed the active to hold short of runway 16R. Once the last set of take-offs from Runway 25 were done, we took off seeing Alitalia and Emirates follow us to Runway 16R. Its always scary to see flock of birds next to the active runway when you are taxing.
Soon meal service started and we opted for chicken in mushroom sauce with mashed potatoes and carrots and cheese tortelloni with white wine. The food sadly wasn’t the best of what we had on flights till this one. The wine on the other hand was very sweet.
There flight was uneventful. The IFE worked fine, had good collection of movies and songs. I stuck to the Flight map, as we ditched the northern route and started moving southwards, to fly over Egypt. I was excited at the chance of seeing the pyramids as we were close to Cairo, but no we went further south – crossed the Nile and then over Saudi Arabia, before coming in to land at Abu Dhabi on runway 31L. There was another round of meal service and Pepsi, Juice and Water in the galley.
I visited the lavatory and I think this is the best view from any toilet in the world. All lavatories should have windows ! except for those which are in the middle section of the plane !
The flight had reached before time and we started following the transit signs to the much awaited B787-9 ride which is covered in my post published last week – Taking passenger experience to new levels
A330-200 A6-EYT, just over a year old. MSN 1486