Air Dolomiti (Lufthansa Regional)
by Luigi Vallero
Flights: EN1777/LH1747 & EN1776/LH1746
Route: Olbia (IATA: OLB/ICAO: LIEO)–Genoa [Genova] (GOA/LIMJ)–Olbia
Aircraft: ATR72-500 & ATR42-500
Departure times: 1630 & 1315
Arrival times: 1800 & 1445
Passenger: Luigi Vallero
PHOTOS: LUIGI VALLERO
Calling the reservations center a few days in advance, a very helpful agent gave me all the information I needed in a very professional way. On the day of departure, after a smooth check-in I was soon on my way to Gate 7 at OLB to wait for the bus to the ATR72 (registered I-ADLW).
Boarding began in a very orderly way at 1610 and we were then taken to our aircraft, proudly displaying the stylish mother of pearl and green livery of Air Dolomiti in the hot Sardinian sun. Upon boarding one of the two pleasant female flight attendants, wearing the elegant uniform of the airline, warmly welcomed each and every passenger by offering a selection of Italian and international newspapers. This flight operates as the domestic leg of an international service continuing on to Munich [München], and is code-shared with Lufthansa like all the other Air Dolomiti flights.
The spotless cabin of the ‘ATR700’, as the ATR72-500 is called by the airline, features 46 economy and 20 business class seats, and is possibly the best appointed of the French-Italian twin turboprop, with very wide and comfortable dark green AvioInterior leather seats, dark green carpets, and light green curtains.
We were off blocks eight minutes late because of ATC restrictions, quite a common occurrence on busy Sardinian airways on a summer Friday afternoon; takeoff time was 1647.
In the seat pocket were copies of Le Ali, Air Dolomiti’s own in-flight magazine (which takes its name from the family of Alcide Leali, the airline’s founder, while paraphrasing the Italian words le ali (‘the wings’) and Lufthansa Magazin, to underline the strong relationship between the two carriers. (Air Dolomiti is the only Lufthansa Regional carrier which has kept its original livery and distinctive in-flight product, after having made itself widely recognised in the years for its outstanding service.) Postcards depicting the airline’s ATRs and CRJs, as well as Lufthansa timetables, were available in dispensers placed on the rear galley bulkhead.
Soon after setting course toward the island of Elba, service began with an offering of a high-quality tissue refreshing towelette, followed by a selection from the ‘Settimocielo’ (‘Seventh Heaven’), the name of Air Dolomiti’s in-flight service, in this case a packet of crackers and a nice box of Cantuccini—a traditional almond biscuit from Tuscany [Toscana]. There was a wide choice of drinks, including Prosecco sparkling wine served in real glasses, and coffee or tea in well-designed and sturdy plastic disposable cups. A much better offering on Italian domestic services than by any other carrier these days, even though cost-cutting exercises show a bit—sandwiches or tartlets are no longer served to coach flyers.
The flight continued smoothly over a pacific Tyrrhenian Sea, with professional announcements made by the captain. After 50 minutes flying time we approached the Portofino peninsula, beginning a descending left turn toward the runway of GOA’s Cristoforo Colombo, built on land reclaimed from the sea and running parallel to the coastline. The Runway 29 approach affords passengers sitting on the right side great views of all the picturesque towns along the Ligurian coastline between Portofino and Genoa. Shortly before landing a fruit jelly candy was offered. We parked in front of the terminal at 1755, five minutes ahead of schedule.
The return flight, three days later, was operated by an ATR42-500 (I-ADLP), known as ‘ATR500’ within the airline, with 38 economy and eight business seats. One of the two FAs had served on my previous flight and was especially courteous after recognizing me. The same spotless and pleasant dark green cabin gave the passengers a welcome relief from the hot and humid August day.
Departure was right on time, and after taxiing to Runway 11 for an easterly departure, we were airborne a few minutes later. The high service standard provided was exactly the same as on the previous flight.
Routing was via Corsica [Corse] and after exactly an hour and one minute in the air we landed at OLB’s Costa Smeralda. Blocks were on at 1422, an amazing 23 minutes earlier than published.
Air Dolomiti is undoubtedly the jewel in the crown of Lufthansa Regional, providing a constantly high quality standard of service with a distinctive Italian style. Professional crews, extremely pleasant cabins and comfortable seating, above average food and drinks, and high-quality reading material all contribute to make even an economy class passenger on a short domestic sector feel like a highly valued customer.
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