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ITA Airways business class seat

A Luxe Ride to Rome: ITA Airways Business Class on the A330-900neo

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There's a new (yet familiar) way to get to Rome (FCO) and back in lie-flat business class seats.

ITA Airways is the successor to Italy's flag carrier Alitalia, and the airline has been seriously upping its game. Not only has it added several new nonstop flights between the U.S. and Rome, but it's outfitting more of its fleet with brand-new business class cabins.

They're as nice as they look, too, with a sleek design and comfortable, leather lie-flat seats that are on par with or better than any other business class seat flying to Europe right now. And while booking business class flights to Italy with points has typically been a challenge, ITA Airways' expansion – and a new way to book these flights – has made it easier than ever.

Despite a few shortcomings, one thing is clear: There are few better ways to get to the Eternal City than in ITA Airways' new business class. Read on for the full review of my recent flight from New York City (JFK) to Rome (FCO).



How to Book ITA Airways Business Class

ITA Airways is a member of the SkyTeam alliance, which opens up a dozen or more ways to book these flights. Forget them all and focus on just one.

After partnering last fall, you can book ITA flights with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points. Those points are easy to earn, too: Virgin Atlantic is a transfer partner with all the major banks: American Express, Bilt Rewards, Capital One, Chase, and Citi.

Exactly how many points you'll need to book these seats depends on which city you're flying from. Virgin Atlantic uses a distance-based award chart for these ITA flights, so longer flights from Miami (MIA) or the West Coast will cost you more than a nonstop from New York City (JFK). In general, expect to rates as low as 75,000 points from the East Coast to as much as 100,000 points for longer routes from the West Coast.

Best of all, you won't pay a mountain of additional taxes and fees: Virgin Atlantic doesn't pass on fuel surcharges on these ITA awards, so you'll pay just $5.60 for a one-way to Rome and 56 euros (about $62 USD) for the return flights to the states.

ITA flies nonstop to its hub in Rome (FCO) from eight North American cities, as of publication.

  • Boston (BOS)
  • Chicago-O'Hare (ORD)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Miami (MIA)
  • New York (JFK)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • Toronto (YYZ)
  • Washington, D.C. (IAD)

You won't find brand-new business class seats on every ITA Airways aircraft. ITA's newest seats are flying its Airbus A350 or A330-900neos, which you'll generally find flying between Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), New York (JFK), San Francisco (SFO), and Toronto (YYZ) as of publication. Other routes are typically on older A330 with decent (yet outdated) business class cabins.

Even so, you may see the older A330 on some dates from Miami, New York, and Toronto. When booking your flight, double-check the aircraft you'll be flying to ensure you get the new business class seat.


Virgin Atlantic award booking for a one-way ITA Airways business class flight from New York to Rome


In all, it cost just 75,000 Virgin points (transferred from American Express) and a measly $5.60 in taxes and fees to book my one-way flight from Rome (FCO) to New York (JFK) in ITA Airways business class.

At Thrifty Traveler, we don't accept freebies. We use our own points, miles, or cash to pay for every single flight or hotel you see reviewed here – including this one!


Checking In & Lounge Access

If flying from Rome, you'll have access to ITA's flagship lounge at FCO. If departing from the U.S. like I was, however, you'll have to rely on a partner airline lounge or lounge access from your own credit card. 

At check-in, the agent should tell you what lounges you can get into with your ITA business class ticket at whichever airport or terminal you're in – otherwise, don't hesitate to ask. ITA Airways uses Terminal 1 at JFK, where there's an Air France lounge available to all business class passengers.

Boarding was fairly straightforward and began about an hour before departure. After loading any passengers who needed assistance onto the plane, business class passengers were the next to board.

Despite boarding starting about 15 minutes later than anticipated, it didn't affect our ability to take off on time.


ITA Airways Business Class Cabin

My flight from New York (JFK) to Rome (FCO) was on an A330-900neo, which features one of the airline's newest business class cabins. The ITA A350 also sport new business class seats, though they're slightly different.

The cabin has 30 seats in a single cabin laid out in a 1-2-1 configuration, meaning each seat has direct aisle access.


ITA Airways business class cabin


All seats face straight ahead, but alternate the console location so you're never seated directly in front of or behind another passenger. This staggered configuration means the window seats in rows 1, 3, 5, and 7 will have seats closer to the aisle. Meanwhile, the seats in rows 2, 4, 6, and 8 are positioned closer to the window, offering a little more privacy.


ITA Airways A330-900neo business class cabin seating chart on AeroLOPA


The seats in the middle section are best for couples or passengers traveling together, with a partition between the two seats that can be raised or lowered.


ITA Airways business class seat


My flight from New York was mostly full. Since these lie-flat seats aren't fully enclosed suites, it was easy to see the passengers around me (and them me). The cabin was a bit noisy and felt busy at times when other passengers were talking amongst each other and moving around.

Business class passengers also had access to three different bathrooms: one at the front of the cabin and two at the rear, which are shared with the premium economy cabin. They were nice but fairly basic.


ITA Airways business class seat


ITA Airways Business Class Seat

Since I was traveling alone, I opted for seat 4A along the windows. Since I was in row four, my seat was positioned closer to the window, with a console table to my right providing some extra privacy and separation from the aisle.


ITA Airways business class seat


At first glance, the seats scream luxury, with a cream and navy blue leather chair, dark wood tones, and deep red accents throughout the cabin, including red-carpeted aisles.


ITA Airways business class seat


ITA Airways business class seat


At just under 20 inches wide, the seat felt wide and plenty comfortable, though it's far from the widest business class seat in the skies. I'm not a tall person by any means, but it felt spacious: My outstretched legs didn't even reach the footwell.


ITA Airways business class seat


Each seat had a console table with a small rack in the back to tuck away small items during the flight.

But as a person who likes to keep my personal items close by on a long flight, the biggest knock against these seats was the lack of storage space. There was no additional storage beyond a slim compartment in the other armrest – barely large enough to hold a magazine, which was disappointing. From what I could tell, the seats in the middle had slightly more storage, with a small cubby beneath the armrest.


ITA Airways business class seat


The side table also had a removable remote control for the inflight entertainment and USB-A and C outlets for charging your devices. There are also two sets of controls for reclining your seat into a lie-flat bed, including one along the side of the armrest – making it easy to adjust while lying down.


ITA Airways business class seat


The eight-and-a-half-hour flight to Rome was an overnight journey, so having a seat that could be fully converted into a bed was critical for getting some rest.


ITA Airways business class seat


The seat slid into the footwell beside the seat in front of me, reclining into a flat bed measuring 76 inches. ITA provided a blanket and pillow for each business class passenger, which … honestly, wasn't much better than what you'd get in some economy seats. But the padding of the leather seat made a comfortable enough bed for a few hours of sleep.

In addition to the lights above the seat, there was also a personal light next to the left of my seat above the side table that I could turn off or on with a light tap. 

My largest complaint – and one I shared with fellow passengers whom I heard loudly discussing the same issue – was the temperature of the plane: It was very hot. And like far too many airlines, there were no individual air nozzles in ITA's business class seats on this plane.

That made for a tough night of sleeping, even with a lie-flat bed.

Amenities Flying ITA Airways Business Class

Waiting at each seat was an ITA-branded fabric amenity kit with all the essentials: a sleep mask, socks, earplugs, and a toothbrush and toothpaste.


ITA Airways business class amenities


While the amenity kit may have seemed basic, there was also a small, rolled-up towel at the seat with six travel-sized toiletries from the Italian wellness brand Spa of Wonders tucked inside, including hand lotion, body lotion, and even shampoo, and shower gel. That's much more than you get on most airlines.


ITA Airways business class amenities


ITA Airways business class amenities


Every passenger in business class also got a pair of slippers. They appeared to be one size fits all … and that size was quite small, so I imagine they would be difficult for most passengers to actually wear during the flight.

Every seat also had a pair of noise-canceling headphones ready to use during the flight. While they weren't the best or nicest headphones I've received on a business class flight, they were good enough for me to leave my own in my bag in the overhead bin.


ITA Airways business class seat


The seatback screens measured over 17 inches and even had Bluetooth capabilities to pair your own set of headphones, though I didn't get a chance to test it out.

As for inflight entertainment, there was a large selection of Italian and American movies and TV shows from which to choose. I was excited to see a handful of newly released and Oscar-nominated films available, too. 


ITA Airways business class entertainment


The monitor also included options to see your flight map, call a flight attendant, and even several “Do not disturb” settings – a feature I haven't personally experienced before. You could choose “Let me sleep” if you were planning to get lots of shut-eye during the flight, and there was even an option to “wake for meals” which I particularly loved as that’s a source of anxiety for me when sleeping on planes. 


ITA Airways business class entertainment


Here's what my monitor showed at my seat when I selected that option. Grain of salt: I woke up on my own for breakfast as the cabin lights came on, so I don’t know if it truly worked or not. 


ITA Airways business class entertainment


Dining & Service in ITA Airways Business Class

My expectations were high for ITA's promise of a multi-course meal for business class passengers featuring plenty of Italian classics. ITA Airways is an Italian airline, after all, and they lean into it.

Dinner service kicked off soon after takeoff with an apertivo, or pre-dinner drink – an Italian tradition. You could choose from an Aperol spritz, a Campari spritz, your own cocktail, or select something from the extensive wine list. I opted for the Aperol spritz, and while it was served at room temperature, it nailed the flavor. Drinks were served alongside a warm dish of nuts. 


ITA Airways business class food


Next was the appetizer course. Passengers had a choice of a fresh chicken salad or king prawns. I went for the prawns, which may have been the wrong choice as the presentation was quite plain. The prawns, served cold, were large but utterly flavorless – as were the potatoes and the “carrot salad” that came with them. The bread, however, was warm – a touch I always appreciate on an airplane. 


ITA Airways business class food


On the flight attendant’s recommendation – and I loved that they offered a recommendation – I selected a 2022 Greco Di Tufo white wine to accompany it. The wine was crisp, bright, and complemented the food well … even if there wasn't much to complement.

Naturally, the next course was pasta. There were two dishes to choose from: orecchiette pasta with broccoli sauce and pasta alla materana, a traditional red-based pasta sauce from the Basilicata region of southern Italy, according to the menu.


ITA Airways business class food


I went with the orecchiette. The pasta was thick and chewy, exactly the way freshly made pasta should be – a real feat for a dish served inside a metal tube at 36,000 feet. But the broccoli and sauce tasted a bit off. I may or may not have picked around the broccoli and just eaten the noodles…


ITA Airways business class food


Then, it was onto the second course.


ITA Airways business class food


I chose the veal. This course may have been my favorite: The veal and rosemary potatoes were well-cooked and the buttered spinach had surprisingly good flavor. The only miss here was the zucchini, as the pieces were too small and soft to enjoy – or even get easily onto my fork.


ITA Airways business class food


The second course was followed by a cheese and fruit plate and a side salad, which were both fine but unremarkable.


ITA Airways business class food


Dessert was a selection of pastries including a tiny chocolate mousse tart and a cream puff – perfect portions after such a large meal.


ITA Airways business class food


At first, the flight attendants seemed in a rush to get through dinner, as each course was cleared incredibly quickly. Often, a flight attendant would appear to take my plate before I'd even had a chance to finish my food – and I'm not a slow eater by any means.

But then service slowed down considerably. After the dessert course, the flight attendant working my row didn't come around to clear my plate for a long while until I used the call button, slightly delaying my plans to get to sleep. Meanwhile, other passengers around me had already finished and stowed their tray tables and were settling in or already asleep. 


ITA Airways business class seat


The flight attendants dimmed the cabin lights with about five hours left in the flight, enough time to get some sleep.

But the incredibly warm cabin made that difficult. Needing some water to cool down, I pressed the call button several times … to no avail: No flight attendant arrived. For that matter, it was difficult to get any flight attendant's attention even as they roamed the aisles. I eventually just got up and walked to the galley to ask for a water.

Lights came on about an hour and 45 minutes before landing and we were all served breakfast. Breakfast on these overnight flights to Europe is always simple. Despite pulling out all the stops for a multi-course dinner, ITA's breakfast was no different.

The spread included two pastries, jam, and a bowl of fresh fruit. The flight attendants also walked the aisles offering two different kinds of yogurt and additional jam. Strangely, they didn’t offer coffee with breakfast. 


ITA Airways business class food


Overall, the service in ITA Airways business class was fine, but far from great. The flight attendants weren't particularly friendly or warm on my flight – even a little standoffish at times. I found myself having to ask for a lot of things – like water during the flight and coffee with breakfast, but it's possible some things just got lost in translation.


Bottom Line

Between the Italian dishes, drinks and the lie-flat leather seats, ITA Airways' new business class seats might just be the best way to fly nonstop to Rome (FCO).

Was it perfect? Hardly. Service was spotty at best and the warm cabin – with no overhead air nozzles to cool off – made getting a good night's sleep a chore. On the plus side, these new business class seats on ITA's Airbus A330-900neo are excellent. And while not every dish was a home run, the multi-course dinner was great and undeniably Italian.

At the end of the day, you can't beat a nonstop flight to Rome. And considering how many routes you've got to pick from – and book any of them with points and miles – ITA Airways business class is a great option.


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

2 Responses

    • Not impressed. As I have been traveling businesses class for all my trips, Turkish Airlines followed with Emirates Airlines and Singapore are far better. European, Austrian, British Airlines are OK. Swiss Airlines and France follow to my list from all I travel. Virginia upper class are great. I also traveled New Zealand Airlines and they are good.

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