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Where to even begin?
My experience with Alitalia was the worst I’ve ever had with an airline. They’re uncommunicative, highly unhelpful, and their website is a complete disaster.
Let’s start at the beginning.
I found a really great deal of a ticket – only $281 with a promo code that I used on Alitalia’s Japanese website.
The code was valid on any fare. However, the best deal was to go to Madrid. I’d never been to Madrid and had always wanted to. I used Google Chrome to convert the Japanese text to English, plugged in the code, and got $315 off the fare. It went through after some coaxing. Amex converted the Yen to US dollars, and the total came to $281. Shortly after, I received a confirmation email with a ticket number.
Then, I got this email on the 21st:
Then, on the 22nd, I got this email:
I figured the deal was off and forgot about it until I received another email on the 25th:
Shortly after, I received my itinerary. Great. I was booked for Madrid. Those few days in waiting were very “will they or won’t they” – and I honestly thought they wouldn’t honor the fare. So when they did, I wanted to verify that the reservation was in their system.
alitalia.com is a piece of you-know-what. The only way to view the reservation, I found after a lot of Googling, was to use the Russian website – alitalia.ru, which I had to translate from Russia into English. Sure enough, my reservation was there. February 1-5. Yay. I booked a cute room in Chueca, Madrid’s gay district, through Airbnb.
All was good for a few months. November and December passed, and I thought I was still on for my February trip to Madrid. On January 21st, I received this communication:
Great. Canceled flight. So I called them to get onto another flight on the 5th. Nothing. But I could get on a flight on the 4th, which meant I’d have to cut short my first trip to Spain, and update my Airbnb reservation. I only got $5 back after paying the change fee, and Alitalia put me on a flight on the 4th instead. Fine.
All went as planned on the departure, thank god, because after so much back and forth I already swore I’d never take Alitalia ever again. Their CSRs are like freaking robots. Talking to them is like pressing a button on a phone menu. They don’t listen. They just repeat the same statements over and over. Oh, it’s worth mentioning that the number I called them on isn’t listed on their website. That would be too easy. I had to Google around to get that too. No reservation on their main website, no number to call them on, random flight changes, and a less than accommodating bunch of CSRs. I even hung up and called back a few times. It’s like they’re all brainwashed.
I had a great time in Madrid, and on my last night there, the 3rd, was getting ready to for my 7am flight the next morning. Until I got an email at MIDNIGHT that Alitalia had pushed back the second leg of my trip, FCO-JFK, by five hours. Which meant my layover in FCO, a total shithole of an airport, would be over nine hours.
I called them and asked if I could tighten up the connections in any way. Maybe connect in Milan, or Miami instead of Rome? No. No, no, no. I tried to check their flight schedules on the website, which simply doesn’t function. BUT, it did work on their mobile app. I took a few screenshots and called back again with another plan.
Could I at least fly out of Madrid a little later? The agent gasped like it was the most brilliant idea she’d ever heard. What a moron. She put me on a 12pm flight instead, which meant I could sleep in a bit. How shady to do something like that the night before an early flight, when I was planning on getting only a few hours of sleep anyway.
By that time, I was most unhappy to be taking Alitalia back to JFK. The airline is garbage. And they’re supposedly the 8th largest carrier in the world and Italy’s premier airline? Between Alitalia and FCO, color me extremely unimpressed with Italy’s aviation experiments. Regarding Alitalia: between the terrible agents, multiple canceled/delayed flights, last-minute communication, back-and-forth on whether I even had a ticket or not, and the piece-of-$#!+ international websites, I will avoid this airline at all cost. If you ever have to fly with them, be very wary. You’ll have to check in on them a lot. And even then, expect a lot of red tape to get clear answers. Very customer UNfriendly.
When I think about it all now, it makes me cringe. I’d honestly be surprised if anyone’s had a positive experience with them. Did anyone else get in on this fare deal? How was the service?
At least I credited it to Delta and got a nice batch of MQMs out of it. In fact, when I got back, I found out it had bumped me into Silver Medallion status. Small wins. Small wins.
Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.