ITA Airways A330-900neo business class review

Quick take: This celebration of the best of Italy is now one of the leading business-class products offered by a European carrier.


  • A faultless ground experience in Rome with delicious handmade pizza served in the lounge
  • An elaborate Italian feast on board with aperitifs and a dedicated pasta course
  • An overall feeling of sophistication, pride and attention to detail


  • No Champagne on the ground or in the air
  • Wi-Fi was so slow it was unusable
  • Redemptions are not possible through most SkyTeam partners

After the long-standing Italian national carrier, Alitalia, announced it would cease operations in 2021, following years of financial difficulties that included bankruptcy in 2017 and government nationalization in 2020, a new airline was born.

ITA, short for Italia Transporto Aereo (and pronounced “ee-tah”), is a more streamlined version of Alitalia. It plans to avoid the mistakes that led the former flag carrier to eventual collapse — reducing operating costs with fewer employees relying on a smaller and more efficient fleet.

While this business model might sound like a detriment to the passenger’s experience, the airline can point to new Airbus 330neo aircraft, a new business-class seat and SkyTeam alliance membership. That begs the question: Can this small-but-rising player in European aviation compete with the likes of British Airways, Air France and Virgin Atlantic?

I booked a flight from Rome Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci Airport (FCO) to New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) to find out.

Here’s what the experience was like.


How much does business class cost to book on ITA Airways?

ITA Airways’ newest aircraft is the Airbus A330-900neo, which will become the carrier’s primary long-haul aircraft type. Six frames have joined the fleet, with 12 more on order.

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The new planes already operate on daily transatlantic services from Rome to Miami International Airport (MIA) and John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), and you can expect additional U.S. destinations to see the Neo in 2024 as the carrier receives new deliveries. ITA will grow its long-haul route network in 2024 with new routes to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and Canada, Ghana, Senegal and Saudi Arabia.

While a member of the SkyTeam alliance, ITA redemptions have been difficult to book with partner miles. While you can transfer Accor LIve Limitless points to the airline’s own Volare loyalty program, the exciting development last summer was the ability to book ITA redemptions with Virgin Atlantic points.

I booked a one-way business-class flight from Rome to New Delhi for 60,000 Virgin points and just $40 in fees and taxes.

Here is the range of cash and award rates on it over the next 12 months:

Class Economy Premium economy Business
Airfare (round-trip) $699-$1,549 $869-$1,582 $2,125-$3,817
Virgin points (round-trip) 41,000 plus $58 75,000 plus $58 120,000 plus $58

Both cash fares and mileage redemptions in business class include free seat selection, two free checked bags of 70 pounds each, one full-size cabin bag and one personal item (like a handbag or laptop bag).

ITA Airways flight AZ770 departs Rome at 1:55 p.m. daily, arriving in Delhi at 1:55 a.m. just over seven hours later.

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Flying Club is a transfer partner of every major transferable point currency:


That means you’ve got plenty of options for earning rewards to transfer to Flying Club, many of which feature terrific welcome bonuses. Here’s just a sample of the travel rewards credit cards that earn these transferable points that can be converted to Virgin points:

Checking in to and boarding business class on ITA Airways

ITA business class passengers can expect the following priority services at the airport.

Lounge available Piazza di Spagna Lounge
TSA PreCheck access Yes
Boarding group 1

My first indication this would be a sophisticated travel experience was when I stepped off the airport train from central Rome and saw an ITA staff member on the airport platform with a sign asking for ITA guests. After giving her my flight details, she invited me to check in and drop off my baggage at a counter within the train station rather than carrying it into the terminal building.


I was checked in within 60 seconds. Commenting to the friendly staff about what a handy perk this was, they replied, “We want our passengers to have the smoothest journey possible.”

ITA operates from Terminal 1 at Rome Airport, a modern, bright and spacious building with high ceilings.

Though I’d already checked in on the train platform, I took a peek at ITA’s terminal check-in area, which was well set up with a dedicated Sky Priority line, virtually no wait to be served, and plenty of smiling staff to assist passengers.

Fast track security was available just a few steps from ITA’s check-in area, which Amex Platinum cardmembers could also access. I was through in seconds.


Airside, Terminal 1 continued the modern and spacious theme and was a genuinely relaxing place to wait for a flight, even if you didn’t have lounge access.

Long-haul flights on this airline depart from the E gates, where the non-Schengen lounge is also located.


Business class and SkyTeam Elite Plus members flying ITA Airways or SkyTeam partners on non-Schengen flights can access the Piazza di Spagna lounge, located near gate E11.


Inherited from the now-defunct Alitalia, as one large rectangular room with a gray and brown decor scheme, the lounge is unlikely to win cutting-edge design awards.

However, the food, drinks and service were the first taste of how well ITA celebrates its home of Italy.

The staffed bar on the right side of the lounge served barista coffee on a proper espresso machine.

Checking it was still before midday, I ordered an excellent cappuccino, adding some madeleines and Italian biscotti to nibble on.


Once the clock had struck noon, I deemed it an appropriate time for an aperitif. I naturally chose a refreshing Aperol Spritz, which was popular with lounge guests.

Foodwise, a central buffet area was small in size but featured Italian meats and cheeses, salads and freshly cooked hot pasta dishes.

The highlight of the Piazza di Spagna lounge, and indeed the entire ITA ground experience, was the freshly cooked Napoli-style pizza from the live cooking station.


I’ve eaten pizza in Italy many times, and this was as good as any I’ve eaten. I had to limit myself to just a few slices so I didn’t fill up completely before the flight.

Best of all, because the pizza was so popular, the chef constantly whipped up new varieties, so there was a steady stream of fresh pizzas with different toppings straight from the oven for guests to enjoy.

I could have happily sat in the lounge eating pizza all afternoon, but made my way to the gate an hour before departure for boarding.


I’ve had some chaotic boarding experiences in Italian airports in the past, but this was calm, organized and efficient, with plenty of seating, lines set up for priority and general boarding and upbeat staff available to check Indian visas and answer questions.


Boarding commenced 40 minutes before departure, with business-class passengers invited to board first through the priority line.


How comfortable was business class on ITA Airways?


ITA Airway’s three-class Airbus A330-900neo aircraft have the following dimensions in a single business class cabin:

Number of seats 30
Cabin layout 1-2-1
Fully flat bed 80 inches
Seat width 19.7 inches
Screen size 17.3 inches

I chose a window seat in the middle of the cabin. ITA chose the Thompson Vantage XL product for its new business-class seat, which you will also find on A330s operated by Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic. While the seat does not have sliding doors, it is still a solid business-class hard product.

My first impressions of the cabin were very positive — the cream and deep-blue color scheme looked elegant, and the leather seats, combined with the patterned motif around the reading light next to the headrest, immediately reminded me of a luxury Italian sports car.


The little Italian flag detail on the headrest was a fun reminder of this celebration of Italy.


My seat had a large shelf on the left armrest with a small open storage bin behind it where the noise-canceling headphones and a water bottle were waiting.

Also on this side shelf was a remote control for the inflight entertainment, USB-A and C charging and seat controls to turn the bed fully flat. There was also a second, simplified set of recline and light controls in the side armrest, so passengers did not need to get up while horizontal to turn on a light, or raise the seat.

Unlike my recent Iberia flight, these seat controls were placed in a logical location away from where passengers would naturally rest their elbows, so nothing was pressed by accident, and the legroom was excellent. The padded seatback around the IFE screen was unnecessary but added to the sophisticated feel of the cabin.


The seat didn’t have any other storage, which was a little disappointing; however, I recognize the width of the A330 means some the spacious seats you may find on wider aircraft cannot fit in this cabin.

Best seats for solo travelers A or L seats in rows 2, 4 and 6
Best seats for couples D/G or E/H pairs in rows 2 – 6
Seats to avoid Rows 1 and 8

The seat reclined into a footwell next to the seat in front. Though there was not much need for it on this daytime flight, it was wide and comfortable enough for a post-lunch snooze.

The large tray table swung out from under the storage shelf to my left and was large enough for my Macbook. I liked this design as it allowed me to squeeze out of the seat even when I had a meal tray on the table.

The three bathrooms provided for the 30-seat cabin were nothing flashy (with no special toiletries) or spacious but were kept clean, and there was never a line to use them.


Amenities in ITA Airways business class

Each business class passenger had a large, plush pillow and a blue comforter, though no mattress pad was provided.

There was also an ITA-branded amenity kit with sleep socks, eye mask, dental kit and earplugs. Given how premium the experience had been so far, the course fabric pouch seemed a little pedestrian, as did the contents. I would have loved to see ITA team up with an Italian fashion house for something more stylish, as Emirates has with Bulgari.


Things improved when the crew then handed out travel kits from Italian spa brand QC Terme with seven different toiletries, including intensive hand butter, organic face cream and exfoliating shower gel.


Seven creams in an amenity kit in business class felt decidedly opulent.

The seatback entertainment screen did seem a little smaller than other carriers’ business class and couldn’t be angled in any direction. I was surprised to see just 22 new release movies available, including “Don’t Worry Darling,” “Past Lives” and “Shotgun Wedding.”

ITA offered Wi-Fi on the flight with free messaging, up to $25 for a whole flight pass with 500Mb of data. The speeds were unusably slow, registering just 0.21 Mbps download and 0.06 Mbps upload, so I soon gave up.

How was the food in ITA Airways business class?

During boarding, menus were handed to guests, along with an offer of prosecco, orange juice or water. I was not surprised, though slightly disappointed there was no Champagne available on the flight.

However, the Trento DOC “Maximum Blanc de Blancs,” retailing at around $30 per bottle, was a respectable Italian sparkling wine.


An elaborate lunch commenced 45 minutes after takeoff, starting with a classic Italian aperitif. I chose a Campari spritz, served with tuna mousse-filled choux pastry.


Next was a choice of two appetizers:

  • Tomato and cucumber tartar with lime cucumber and coriander dressing, served with a micro herb salad or
  • Citrus lobster salad with yoghurt and pink pepper

I chose the lobster salad, a light and fresh start to the meal and was served with Italian focaccia bread. I love the flair of the blue ribbon tied around the cutlery and napkin.


Two white and two red Italian wines were also available, with the crew pouring at my seat after offering the bottle for inspection.


The Italian tradition continued with a pasta course; choices included:

  • Buckwheat ravioli with fried eggplant, tomatoes, mozzarella and milk cream and basil drops; and
  • Sorrentine Peninsula handmade strascinati with Neapolitan sauce.

I chose the ravioli. Pre-cooked pasta is not easy to execute at 30,000 feet, and while this wasn’t as fresh as the pizza served in the lounge at Rome, it was still an interesting and tasty option with the dark wheat pasta. Parmesan cheese was served to taste by the crew.


It was then on to the entree, with a choice between:

  • Chicken breast with lime potato cream, Polignano carrots and snow peas, or
  • Rockfish served “Amalfi Coast” style.

I selected the chicken, which arrived elegantly plated and reminded me of a fancy Christmas dinner. It was tasty, moist and well thought-out. Given the number of courses served at lunch, I appreciated the entree portion was not too big.


As if that was not enough food for a mid-week lunch, almost two hours after departure, dessert was next, with simple options of an Italian cheese plate, fresh fruit or a traditional lemon delizia sponge cake.

I chose the sponge cake with a lovely citrus flavor, and ordered a macchiato. I was a little surprised this was served in a full-sized coffee cup rather than an espresso cup, given the authenticity and attention to detail of the rest of the meal, but this was a minor quibble.


After the indulgence of food, I wasn’t particularly hungry for the rest of the flight, though a cheese board or fruit plate was available to order between meals.

Ninety minutes before landing in New Delhi, a prearrival snack was served.

There was no choice, with tasting plate of Italian specialties and fresh fruit served to all guests. I asked the crew if they had any beer available, and rather than a mass-produced international lager, they had, of course, a delicious Italian Baladin craft beer.

The tasting plate included sliced turkey, buffalo mozzarella and a deep-fried courgette flower. While less elaborate than the lunch meal, it was tasty and a great way to end the flight.


Service on my flight to India was excellent from staff to finish. The crew seemed proud of their glamorous new product, and rightly so. With so many courses served for lunch, I commented to the crew member about the volume of food. She smiled and replied, “That’s how we do it in Italy!”.

As my dessert was served, the purser who was monitoring the cabin approached me and offered me an off-menu dessert wine he felt would compliment the course perfectly and insisted I try a glass. I have no idea how this off-menu wine made it onto the plane, but it made for a delicious and memorable end to the meal.

When I arrived at my hotel in Delhi, I discovered the crew from my flight were staying at the same hotel and checking in at the same time, though neither of us knew this before leaving the plane. Despite the hour approaching three in the morning, when the ITA purser spotted me checking in at a nearby counter, he immediately approached me, remembered me by name, shook my hand and thanked me again for flying his airline. This was a classy finish to an already polished flight.

Though I took plenty of photographs on the flight, the crew did not know who I was or what I did for a living.


Would you recommend ITA Airways A330neo business class?

I was thoroughly impressed with the ITA Airways experience from start to finish. The ground experience in Rome was pleasant and easy and immediately put my mind at ease for the rest of the journey. The airline’s lounge had terrific food and drink options, and I would stop by there again just for another slice of those delicious pizzas.

The onboard product was sophisticated, from the stylish seats to the extravagant lunch service. There was a real sense of Italian pride in the flight, which I loved, from a country with a rich history of fashion, design and cuisine, and it felt like an airline on the rise.

Innovation in transatlantic premium products is hardly anything new. Still, this experience was one of the best overall business-class products I’ve flown from a European airline and a great use of Virgin points.

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