View Full Version : Our Trip to Italy on CO--Bellissima!!

Art at ISP
11-06-2007, 08:45 AM
1. CO 44 EWR-MXP Biz Elite 10/25

Well we were finally ready for our long awaited vacation in Italy. Some of you may remember that I chose to pay for 2 BE seats on CO rather than use miles on US and worry about getting there (turns out to be well founded as we shall see).

Our limo driver wanted to take no chances so he picked us up at 1PM for a 5:50PM flight (Newark is about 70 miles but can take 2 hours). Of course the first indication we got about how great this trip would be was making it to EWR in around an hour!

Unlike some other carriers, CO does allow on line check in for international flights but you have to have your passport numbers entered and still check with an agent. We had printed on line bp's but went to the regular Biz Elite check in line to check our bags (1 each). The agent was cheerful and more than happy to assist, placed VIP/Priority tags on the bags, and off we went to the club.

As stated in another trip report, CO does not have a separate departure lounge for international but the C Pres Club is very nice. We had PLENTY of time to kill, so I went out and bought a couple of umbrellae and some Italian plug adapters (turned out did not need). Finally after almost 2 hours in club, time to go to the gate.

Realizing our seats were in Row 5, which only had a partial window, I asked the gate agent if he had any other 2 together-we were offered 1K and L, which we gratefully accepted-he asked to see passports again, and moments later, we are on board. From our vantage point we were able to see the ISM (International Service Manager) load the videos for the trip--she mentioned that the previous crew had NOT done so, but the rest of the crew did pre departure bevs and handed out amenity kits and menus.

Finally off the gate, 35-40 minutes on the departure queue, and off we go. Around 30 min after departure, hot towels come around, as another crew member takes dinner orders. I have the menus, but suffice to say that it was hard to realize you were on an airplane and not in a 5 star restaurant. We were served hot nuts along with first drinks, of which I had single malt, followed by appetizers including soup and a pasta/vegetable selection, followed by a main course which was a full piece of beef in my case, and fish in the better half's case. A little vino with dinner, followed by a cheese/fruit plate, and then the famous sundae.

With happy bellies, it is off to sleep, or to watch movies ( I did a little of both, wife was asleep within 30 minutes). The IRO's used the center seat of Row 1, and I had a pleasant chat with the captain during his rest after he woke up. Woke up about 4-5 hours later (only watched one movie), and the ISM walked up and handed us a bottle of champagne, and said they had heard it was our anniversary...lovely touch.

The arrival meal was a little rushed, because they had made up some time en route, but it was delightful, and next thing you know we're descending through clouds and landing in Milan...right around on schedule as it turns out.

A SPOTLESS aircraft, a fantastic flight crew, gourmet meals, and our bags were among the first off the plane.....does it get much better than this???

It does---the trip itself from that point on..........Lugano, Lake Como, Bellagio, Venice, Florence, Siena, Rome...need I say more?? More to follow.

2. CO 41 FCO-EWR Biz Elite 11/5

We had finally completed our whirlwind visit to Italy (and a little of Switzerland). Time to come home. We had stayed an extra day in Rome since the airfare yesterday was much lower than Sunday, so we walked around the Borghese gardens, the Via Veneto which was right near the hotel, and visited a real creepy church (Cappucine brothers) who decorated the tombs with bones from their bretheren--a little creepy, but interesting. Finally we sat in a cafe along Via Veneto for a leisurely lunch (2 hours!), and had a supper in the hotel bar before turning in early for our 6:30AM pickup.

As stated in the outbound segment, our luck continued--45 minutes to Fiumicino from the St. Regis Grand--we arrived just after 7 and found the security line for international departures. The security folks swiped passports from laptop stands, stamped them, and sent us to the check in lines, which were getting a bit long since the agents had not shown up yet. Then I noticed that there was a Business Elite/Elite Access line with no one on it, so we moved over. Finally, as check in opened, the Elite agent was the last to show, and as he checked us in, he gave us a pass to the Alitalia lounge which was downstairs in the C terminal. We proceeded through security-long lines but moving, and found the lounge, and sat for a final round of expresso and cappucino. The machines are difficult to use with no instructions. The lounge was a little dreary, but it beat the heck out of waiting an hour and half at the gate.

Finally it's time. Upstairs we go, to the gate, and in 10 minutes they are boarding Biz and Elite. Settling on board, this time in 3 K and L, I take the window, enjoy predeparture beverages, and again am presented with menus and amenity kits. Boarding is efficient, and the crew is reviewing the passenger list for Biz E, and finally the door closes, and we're on our way. 25-30 minute taxi, watching all the Alitalia MD-80's take off from midfield, and it's finally our turn-off RY 25, climbing out into the Mediterranean curving northwest toward Elba.

As in the outbound, the meal service was impeccable--hot towels followed by nuts and beverages, lunch orders, multiple appetizers followed by a full steak lunch (the only complaint was they over cooked the steak a bit).
After that wonderful sundae, it's off to sleep/movie/reading etc. for about 6 hours. This was a long flight--9 hours 35 min in the air, but it was comfortable and relaxing.

After the LONG transatlantic crossing, landfall around Boston, over Hartford and on into Newark, another meal service, this time consisting of a fruit plate, hot open roast beef pita, and a small shrimp cocktail, followed by the immigration paperwork. We came close to the limit (we spent $1500 on gifts, clothes, etc).

After arrival on 22L at EWR, off to Im/Cust, a LONG line (HKG arrived just before us), but it moved quickly. The Immigration officer said welcome home, I said good to be home, and he said "you went to Italy and Switzerland and you're happy to be home?" I said it was just long, and he laughed and waved us on.

To baggage claim, and again, the VIP bags were already out, ours were right there, and through customs and the ride home........

Again -SPOTLESS aircraft with everything working, another outstanding flight crew, who took PRIDE in their work, and uneventful ON TIME arrivals and departures, with bags awaiting----I sincerely doubt US could have performed like this even if they wanted to.....

As Dorothy said as she clicked her heels together .... "there's no place like Rome...there's no place like Rome....."


11-06-2007, 11:07 AM
Nice to hear it was a good time. Good flights and Italian women :)

Where are the pics?

Art at ISP
11-06-2007, 03:23 PM
I have between 500 and 600 pics, but I don't do photo web sites.

I guess you'll just have to come over and see them :)

Hope you and the family are well.


11-06-2007, 08:29 PM
Great report Art! I have to say that I've been very impressed with CO on international as well - last year when I travelled to the UK, it was the same (in cattle class - not BE) - it was very clean, great service, great flights! Glad they are still the same!

Art at ISP
11-06-2007, 08:37 PM

It was an amazing experience, and the fact that we eat well and sleep on board made it much more bearable.

I will add that when we arrived in Milan, 5 people of our group of 37 arrived without luggage, and 2 more were complaining about dirty airplanes and surly flight crews--any guesses who they all flew in on? You got it---US Airways. One group got their bags 2 days later, 3 hours before we left the hotel for Venice...now THAT'S cutting it close--and in the beginning US was refusing to deliver the bags!!

But then I digress.........it was a spectacular vacation and I did come home with a nice leather jacket from Florence.