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Alitalia is devaluing business class awards November 15 – should you book now?

by on Mon November 3, 2014 • 4 Comments

Alitalia MilleMiglia, an American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner, is updating its award chart effective November 15.

And like so many airlines before it this year, the prices of Business Class awards are going up.

For trips starting in the U.S., Business Class awards to Europe will increase from 80,000 miles roundtrip to 100,000 miles.

For European fliers, the changes are more widespread, with nearly every Business Class award from or within Europe increasing in price. Flights to Asia and South America are hardest hit with 40,000 mile increases to 160,000 miles roundtrip.

Here is the new chart, the old chart, and the page mentioning November 15 as the date of the new prices.

Should you book an award now?

80,000 miles in Business Class on Alitalia or its SkyTeam partners sounds like a great deal.

Delta and Air France charge 125,000 miles for the same award, though like Air France, Alitalia levies fuel surcharges on awards when airlines assess them. That means most flights from the U.S., except for Delta flights, will incur extra fees.

The good news is they’re not terrible.

A roundtrip to Paris will set you back about $400 in fees, versus about $150 if you use Delta miles.

So you’re paying about $300 to save 45,000 miles versus booking with Delta miles – a trade most of us are willing to make.

And availability on Alitalia’s own flights is actually quite good.

How can you book?

Here’s the hard part.

Alitalia isn’t a well known program for a reason.

It’s not easy to use.

While it has an award booking tool for its own flights, it’s essentially useless, and you’ll need to call Alitalia’s phone agents to book most awards.

Unfortunately its phone agents are also pretty useless.

You’ll find that they….

  • Look at Alitalia flights only by default, so you have to press for partner options
  • Rarely see the same award inventory shown on or
  • Tend to get your hopes up when they do find inventory, only to come back and say it is not possible to book

It’s like negotiating at a sketchy car dealer where the salesperson has to go back to ‘the manager’ every time something changes.

But if you’re patient it’s not impossible to price something out and get good value.

Some tips…

  • Have your MlleMiglia account open. They won’t quote you a price without one, and it takes about 48 hours from creating one for it to get activated in their system.
  • Ask for an award hold. They’ll put an award on hold for a generous 72 hours, although transfers from Membership Rewards are instant.
  • Call Rome instead of the US call center. The real Italian agents tend to be more well versed than the few agents staffing the US 1-800-223-5730 line. The Rome call center is on (+39) 06 65640, so use Skype to make the call.
  • Try to stick to Alitalia flights. They tend to be easier for agents to book, and frankly they are a great airline when you actually fly them. Just terrible on the phone.

Are there other good uses of MilleMiglia miles?

There are, and they’re not changing November 15.

Upgrades from Premium Economy are good deal. Availability is generous, and you only need 12,500 points to upgrade, though the minimum fare bucket usually ends up costing about $2,500.

Delta flights to Hawaii. Like AirFrance Flying Blue, they are available for just 30,000 miles roundtrip in Economy. Not quite as good as Korean SkyPass’ recently introduced 25,000 mile award, but decent none the less.

Asia Business Class for 90-95,000 miles. Unfortunately SkyTeam award space to Asia is very hard to find, but you’ll pay only 90 – 95,000 miles roundtrip in Business Class, compared to 140,000 miles with Delta. India is only 100,000 miles.

South America Business Class for 75,000 miles. Again, almost impossible to find the space, but 75,000 miles roundtrip to Brazil, Argentina, and Chile in Business Class is a steal compared to 125,000 miles using Delta SkyMiles. And there are no surcharges.

Notes about rules

  • There are no stopovers allowed
  • SkyTeam awards are round-trip only
  • Changes to dates are free, other changes are 55 Euros or 5,000 miles


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4 thoughts on Alitalia is devaluing business class awards November 15 – should you book now?

  1. curtis

    I called them, they said its ok to have a stopover at lax, as long as within same class and availability, but they can’t find korean air, the agent told me ke is not in their system, and told to use transfer miles to korean instead:(, 2nd time I called another agent picked up, I told her I found the availiability on delta website and she told me to call delta instead 🙁


      @curtis – Face palm moments with them. Maybe try specifying the booking class letter you see on the Delta site to yet another agent.

  2. curtis

    Is it possible to use Alitalia book on pvg to jfk round trip with korean air (1connection in korea) both ways but have a stop over in lax and from lax to jfk fly thru delta
    So basically looks like pvg-icn-lax (stop over) and delta lax-jfk. Then Fly back from jfk-icn-pvg I have never use Alitalia and heard how bad their customer service was. Please advise


      @curtis – Their SkyTeam award rules say yes, that’s a legal award. The only hangup might be if LAX is not considered the ‘most direct’ point to connect (see the main award rules below lifted from their award rules PDF, broken translation and all). That seems unlikely, though they may have you route on China Eastern with the direct PVG-LAX. Your biggest hurdle will be finding award space on the days you want. Give them a call and walk them through it, they can put something on hold for you.

      • The journey must be booked on the most direct itinerary.
      • The Multicarrier Award Ticket can be made up of a maximum of 6 flight legs.
      • The itinerary cannot contain the same airport more than once in each direction.
      • Only one voluntary stop-over is allowed, but it must not last more than length of staying the final destination of the travel itinerary


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