ITA Airways A320neo business class changed me (maybe not for the better)

ITA Airways A320neo business class changed me (maybe not for the better)

Guess what happens when you mix Italian style and design with the mediocrity of European regional business class? You get ITA A320neo business class, that’s what.

Of course it’s the same 3-3 layout (featuring the same rock hard slimline seats) that all the other airlines have. All middle seats are blocked, so you’ll never have to sit next to a complete stranger. However, it’s the extra sprinkling of panache that might have snubbing your nose at other Euro airlines from here on out.

I never would’ve thought that beige carpet and cream-colored leather could have that kind of effect on me, but what’s done is done. At least until the next time I find myself unable to resist one of them saucy €12 easyJet fares.

AZ204
Rome, Italy (FCO) – London, UK (LHR)
Sunday, January 21, 2024
Aircraft: A320-272N
Registration: EI-HOH
Duration: 2 hours 27 minutes
Seat: 3F (Business Class)

ITA Airways A320neo side view
ITA Airways A320neo side view illustration by NorebboStock.com.
AZ204 flight track
Our route from Rome to London today as AZ204.

My full review of ITA Airways A320neo business class from Rome (FCO) to London (LHR)

My last experience with an Italian Airline was with Alitalia way back in 2002 (ORD-MXP-LIN-FCO and return). It was perfectly fine, but keep in mind that the 22 year gap says all you need to know about how motivated I was to do it again. There were issues.

Arrival at Terminal 1, Rome Fiumicino Airport (FCO)

Fiumicino Airport has changed a lot since 2022, so I purposefully arrived a bit early to have enough time to loiter aimlessly from one end to the other. I also wanted to have a look inside the ITA Business Class Lounge (which all ITA business class passengers get complementary access to). Long story short: it’s a pretty darn nice place to loiter.

Terminal 1 check in Rome Fiumicino Airport
Welcome to Terminal 1 at the Rome Fiumicino Airport! The first order of business? To find someone (anyone) who can tell me the correct pronunciation of “ITA.”
ITA Airways check in counter terminal 1 FCO airport
It’s not going well so far. I’m overhearing both “eye-tee-ay” and “eat-uh” here at the ITA Airways check in counter. 
SANspotter terminal 1 FCO airport
I can’t live with this sort of inconsistency! “There must be somebody who knows the truth…”
FCO airport terminal 1 shopping
Wanna know what will make your boy SANspotter lose sight of his mission to find the truth? The sight of a beautiful airport terminal, that’s what. The retail / food court section of Terminal 1 is nice.
American Express advertisements Rome FCO airport terminal 1
Jesus Christ. Are there any airlines left that American Express hasn’t hooked up with? I wanted to see some Ferrari advertisements dammit!
Concourse E terminal 1 FCO airport
Gate assignments here at FCO are announced approximately 30 minutes before scheduled departure time. Given that there’s still just over an hour to go before my flight to LHR, I’ve still got ample time to find truth…
SANspotter selfie FCO airport
I’ve got it! When pronouncing “ITA” in a way that an ignorant American (such as myself) thinks a stereotypical Italian would say it, it comes out as “eat-uh.” Problem solved.
gate E16 Rome FCO airport
…at least until they made the gate announcement for this flight. “Ladies and gentlemen, eye-tee-ay airways flight number 204 to London Heathrow will be departing out of gate E16.” I also think I heard her say “suck it, SANspotter”, but it was noisy and I couldn’t quite tell for certain.
ITA Airways A320neo parked at gate E16 Rome FCO airport
So yeah. This beautiful ITA A320neo parked here at gate E16 is going to be my sexy a** ride up to LHR today.

The boarding process for AZ204 to London Heathrow

Watching everyone in the immediate vicinity scramble (like they were playing musical chairs and the music just stopped) made the gate announcement a moment I’ll remember for the rest of my life. You just had to be there to fully appreciate it.

ITA Airways Business class mobile boarding pass Rome to London
Two can play the “confusing pronunciation” game. Let’s see how smart they are when they try to pronounce my last name lol.
ITA airways business class boring queue E16 FCO airport
Well then. One of the flight attendants who just walked by pronounced it as “eat-uh” (quite confidently, I might add). This is turning out to be far more entertaining than I thought it would be!
SANspotter walking down jet bridge to board ita airways a320neo
I also think it’s safe to say that I’ve never been more confused while boarding a plane in my entire life.
ITA Airways livery on the A320neo
Make that confused and aroused. What an amazing livery!
ITA Airways A320neo boarding door
Funny how quickly the boarding door cleared after that arousal comment. Seesh. It’s not like I announced a raging hard on or something.

The seats

Nothing could have prepared me for the sight of beige leather seats with subtle green accents. Sure, I’ve seen swanky regional business class seats before (RIP Virgin America A319 first class). But this? I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this.

ITA Airways A320neo business class
A little more beige than I was expecting! Nevertheless, ITA Airways A320neo business class looks great IMHO.

FYI, the layout is typical of regional European business class. There are four rows of business class seats (which are exactly the same as the economy seats) in a 3-3 layout. Every middle seat is blocked, so you’ll always have an open seat next to you.

ITA Airways A320neo business class bulkhead row seats
The bulkhead row seats are what you want if leg room is the ultimate goal. Never mind the questionable stains on the carpet.
ITA Airways A320neo business class row 3
This is row 3, and the window seat is mine. The elbow belongs to someone else.
ITA Airways A320neo business class leg room
Okay. Leg room seems to be on par with what I experienced in KLM 737-800 business class. The quantity of the color beige is far superior though.
ITA Airways A320neo business class seat pitch and overall space
Come to think of it, this is every bit as spacious as TAP Portugal A320 business class (which wasn’t all that spacious if I’m being honest).
ITA Airways A320neo business class seat width
Looking straight down the barrel of row 3 reveals how thin these seats are, while the guy in 2A looks to be counting down the minutes until the pasta (and wine) is served. Patience, my good man!
ITA logo stitched into business class seat
The Eye Tee Ay logo stitched into the head rest is a nice touch.
ITA airways logo on bulkhead wall of Airbus A320neo
It’s nowhere near as nice as the Eat Uh logo on the bulkhead well though.
ITA Airways A320neo business class carpet
Just so there’s no confusion, I actually quite like the beige. It’s not often you’ll see light colored carpet on a commercial aircraft!
ITA Airways A320neo business class USB power outlets
Well then. I was so intrigued aroused by the carpet I almost didn’t notice the USB-A and C ports down here between the seats.
ITA Airways A320neo business class headrest adjustment
Speaking of arousal, erect headrests are often a sign of decent adjustability. #themoreyouknow
SANspotter selfie ITA Airways A320neo business class
A neutral expression? That’s often a sign of a fairly OK business class product. This isn’t bad actually – but it’s nothing revolutionary either.

The departure out of FCO

Say what you will about Italian punctuality (be nice), but they managed to get us pushed off the gate just five minutes behind schedule. That was perfectly fine with me considering that I didn’t have an onward connection to make at LHR. Things were already going far better than my past Alitalia experiences!

ITA Airways A320neo pushing of the gate at FCO
Pushing off the gate! We’re five minutes behind schedule so far, but I’m pretty sure that’s only because the Captain had to run back into the terminal and ask how to pronounce “ITA.”
ITA Airways A320neo business class passengers
So far it’s been all “eye-tee-ay” in the announcements from the Captain and the cabin crew.
ITA Airways A320neo taxiing to runway FCO airport
And I was totally willing to accept that as the correct pronunciation until I heard a flight attendant say “eat-uh” immediately after the safety briefing. The truth, it seems, will not reveal itself here in Rome.
ITA Airways A320neo taking off from FCO airport
In other news, it sure looks like a pretty nice day for flying, doesn’t it? Actually…the captain announced that our arrival at LHR is going to be rough (due to very bad weather), so at least we have that to look forward to.
View of Italian coastline after taking off from FCO airport in a ITA Airways A320neo
What’s the Italian word for ‘dayum”? Because, well…that view!
Italy coastline after taking off from Rome in a ITA Airways A320neo
Picture proof that Italy is the California of Europe (or that California is the Italy of the United States).

In-flight entertainment

Honestly? In-flight entertainment wasn’t even on my mind considering that streaming in-flight movies and TV shows weren’t even included in my recent Air France A220-300 business class experience. I naturally assumed that it just wasn’t a thing on European airlines. I assumed wrong, because ITA Airways in-flight entertainment is top quality IMHO. Mostly.

ITA Airways A320neo streaming in-flight entertainment home screen
Not gonna lie – this is one of the nicest streaming in-flight entertainment home screens that I’ve seen in a while. Leave it to the Italians to do it right!
ITA Airways A320neo streaming in-flight entertainment active users
I especially like how they show how many active users there are. It’s too bad it doesn’t show what they’re watching though (because it’s fun to judge).
ITA Airways A320neo streaming in-flight entertainment menu
Choices choices choices. How is it even possible that “My Big Fat Italian Wedding” isn’t part of the catalog?
Watching movies in Safari in ITA Airways A320neo business class
Good news: I found another Italian classic to watch! Bad news: you can only stream content using Safari (which is fine since I have an iPhone), but pressing the OK button resulted in an error every time.
SANspotter watching movies in ITA Airways A320neo business class
“Yo Adrian!”

The food

What you’re about to see is the most substantial in-flight meal that I have ever been served in regional European business class. Food quality was good enough – and I certainly could’ve eaten all of it if I had the appetite. My advice: restrain yourself in the lounge prior to the flight if you plan on eating in the air.

ITA Airways A320neo business class in-flight meal
Dang it! Why didn’t I bet someone $20 ahead of time that the in-flight meal would be pasta? I knew it!
ITA Airways A320neo business class lunch pasta
That wasn’t a complaint by the way. This looks pretty good – and quite substantial.
ITA Airways A320neo business class lunch close up
Can you believe that I resisted the temptation to end that last comment with a “that’s what she said?” Either I’m maturing in my old age, or I’m slightly concerned about being able to scarf down this huge bowl of cheesy pasta. Maybe both?
SANspotter eating lunch in ITA Airways A320neo business class
This right here is the look of a man who (after eating three plates of pizza, cheese cubes, and pasta in the lounge earlier), is struggling to shovel cheesy pasta into his face.
ITA Airways A320neo business class lunch tray items
Other items on the tray included a small salad, fresh(ish) bread, and one heck of a good piece of chocolate cake.
SANspotter sleeping in ITA Airways A320neo business class
If anyone needs me, I’ll be sitting here dead (of overindulgence).

Seat comfort

I probably wouldn’t have many good things to say about these seats if it weren’t for the blocked middle one. Cream colored leather or not (and there’s no way that’s real leather), these are cheapo economy class seats with very little padding. Expect to squirm your way all the way to wherever it is you’re going.

ITA Airways A320neo business class empty middle seats
In her defense, she looked far more comfortable prior to over indulging on the cheesy pasta (just like someone else I know).
Legs crossed in ITA Airways A320neo business class
Leg room isn’t the best (especially when you can feel yourself growing fatter by the minute), but the blocked middle seats makes this a fairly comfortable experience IMHO.
Stretching out in ITA Airways A320neo business class
FYI, blocked middle seats are a manspreader’s dream. Just sayin’.
Flying over the Swiss Alps in an ITA Airways A320neo
Obligatory scenery pic. I don’t have any scientific data back this up, but I’m thoroughly convinced that the sight of the snow covered Alps can make any business class seat more comfortable.

The descent and arrival into LHR

There was a monster storm a-brewin’ over the UK during the course of our flight, and it was approaching London just as we beginning the descent. We luckily avoided the rain – but the winds were intense. Flying just ain’t any fun when the winds are blowing that hard.

ITA Airways A320neo engine and wing
Aaannnd it begins (even though we’re technically nearing the end of the review). Remember that bad weather I mentioned earlier? Things are about to get spicy.
ITA Airways A320neo business class pre landing snack
A pre-landing treat! Though, based on what the captain was saying about the potential turbulence on the way into LHR, this might actually be a tranquilizer. I’m cool with that.
Flying over London on approach into LHR
Yeah, even if we’re all about to die in a horrible windshear accident, it was hard not to appreciate the nice views of London on the way in.
ITA Airways A320neo landing at LHR
Alrighty then. It may not look all that spicy, but this may have been my most turbulent landing ever. Welcome to a windy a** London Heathrow!
ITA Airways A320neo taxiing to gate at LHR
Apparently ‘back roads’ style taxiways do exist at LHR. It’s kinda to tell that this is one of the busiest airports in the world from this vantage point.
ITA Airways A320neo pulling up to the gate at LHR
And here we are. How is it even possible that I saw exactly nothing during the taxi to the gate here at LHR? I want my money back!
ITA Airways A320neo business class arrival at the gate
Actually, all I really want is to get off this airplane. Not because it was a bad experience or anything (it was pretty nice actually) – but I think I need to walk off that pasta.
SANspotter end of ITA Airways A320neo Business class flight
And I still have no idea how to pronounce “ITA”. I’m going with EAT-uh (based on that excellent pasta dish I’m so desperately trying to walk off). Can’t wait to do this again!

Pros and cons of the ITA Airways A320neo business class experience

How this ended up being one of my best intra-European business class experiences ever is beyond me. It wasn’t supposed to be this good. But it was, and now it’s got me thinking about giving them a try on a long haul route sometime soon. At the very least, I’ll know to show up hungry.

Pros

  • It’s easily one of the most stylish regional business class products in Europe.
  • Food quality is pretty good – though I was more impressed by how substantial the portions are.
  • Streaming in-flight entertainment (something not every European airline offers) is excellent.

Cons

  • The seats are narrow (and very thin). You’ll get the exact same seat back in economy class, minus the extra legroom.
  • They don’t serve pre-meal drinks and snacks. Everything comes out on a single tray at the same time.

Comments (8)

  1. Peter

    March 2, 2024
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      March 2, 2024
  2. Kevin

    March 2, 2024
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      March 2, 2024
  3. Jay

    March 4, 2024
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      March 4, 2024
  4. JCC

    March 8, 2024
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      March 9, 2024

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