There are several different options on how to structure a shorthaul flight in economy class. Either you can offer some kind of free snack, offer a buy-onboard assortment, or you could offer a mix of both, which would mean a free snack with the option to buy something more substantial or premium. Or you could offer some kind of premium economy class cabin for those who travel on expensive economy class tickets. Or you could offer a buy-onboard service in economy class but with drinks and snacks for free to top-tier frequent flyers.
Alitalia have decided to go for the first option, free snacks and drinks in economy class. In practice this means you can choose from a selection of non-alcoholic drinks such as coffee, tea, juices and sodas. And to complement that a snack. Either a salty one or a sweet one, which in this case meant some cookies.
So far so good one may say, and sure, it is nice to get something to drink for free.
However this was one of the longer Alitalia intra-European flights, Rome Fiumicino to London Heathrow, a scheduled flight time of 2:50 and an actual flight time of around 2:15. If you also include the time spent on the ground for boarding and pre-departure preparations in Rome and the time spent for taxiing and disembarkation in London we are talking about more than three hours. And during those three hours there was nothing whatsoever to buy onboard. No option to buy a proper sandwich or a salad or at least some kind of substantial health bar or chocolate bar. And there was no option to buy a beer or a glass of wine. And no option to pre-order any kind of food during the booking process. And there was nothing extra for me as a Skyteam Elite Plus member, the highest status level in the Skyteam alliance.
Fortunately I had a decent late lunch in the Casa Alitalia Piazza di Spagna Lounge before departure where they had various pasta dishes, pizza, a nice selection of cold cuts and some tasty desserts. But had I not I would have been rather hungry upon arrival in London.
So what do you think? Surely no one wants to trigger an airline to go from full service to no frills, getting rid of the few perks that still exists. Of course not, who likes ‘enhancements’? But if ‘full service’ only means a package with cookies and a glass of red orange juice on a flight of well over two hours? With really no other options whatsoever, unless you brought something yourself. Tricky one, but at least this flight made me think twice about it.