Reader Matt briefly brought up Alitalia in a recent post about maximizing American Express Membership Rewards points for travel to Asia.
Alitalia’s MileMiglia Club is both an American Express Membership Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest transfer partner, though I’m embarrassed to admit that I had previously never really looked at their award chart.
Anyway, I was kind of surprised to find that this is probably the single most generous SkyTeam award chart. Here are their award costs for travel originating in North America:
As you can see there are some extremely tempting award redemption options there, especially business class between:
- North America and North Asia for just 90,000 miles roundtrip
- North America and Southeast Asia for just 95,000 miles roundtrip
- North America and India for just 100,000 miles roundtrip
- North America and Southern South America for just 75,000 miles roundtrip
- North America and Tahiti for just 90,000 miles roundtrip
Obviously these redemption rates are considerably lower than the competition, so what’s the catch? It’s probably twofold. First of all, all partner award bookings have to be made by phone, and Alitalia’s phone system leaves a bit to be desired. So if you’re making a partner award booking, make sure to be patient… very patient.
Second, Alitalia does impose fuel surcharges on award redemptions. That being said, they’re usually not too bad, and not on the same level as Air France and British Airways. Also keep in mind that Delta does the same in many markets, so in some cases it’s not even costing you more cash than if you redeemed through Delta SkyMiles.
For example, one SkyTeam partner with a great product is China Southern, which flies an Airbus 380 between Los Angeles and Guangzhou. If you redeem Delta miles for a roundtrip business class ticket on them you’d pay roughly $321 in fuel surcharges plus 120,000 SkyMiles. Booking through Alitalia you’d pay the same amount in taxes/fees/fuel surcharges, except you’d only pay 95,000 miles for the same redemption.
There are a few things worth noting:
- You can only redeem miles for roundtrip travel (Air France Flying Blue allows one way awards, so check out their program if it’s a one way you’re after)
- You can have a maximum of six segments for a partner award ticket
- You’re allowed one stopover enroute to your destination, and your stay at the stopover point has to be shorter than at the destination
Still, this is an incredibly tempting award chart. I was planning on transferring some Membership Rewards to Delta SkyMiles for a business class award to Asia on China Southern/Korean Air, though now will instead transfer to Alitalia.