Amex Offering Big Alitalia Transfer Bonus… But Is It Worth It?

The US American Express Membership Rewards program is offering a 40% bonus on points transfers to Alitalia’s frequent flyer program through December 31, 2016.

alitalia-bonus

The transfer ratio is usually 1,000:1,000, so through this promotion you’ll instead get 1,400 Alitalia miles for every 1,000 Amex points. Since the bonus is hard coded into the transfer ratio, the bonus should post instantly, and you can take advantage of the offer as often as you’d like. On the surface this is even better than the 25% bonus that Alitalia offered on points transfers in October.

However, Alitalia also made some major no-notice changes to their program in mid-October. The good news is that the best use of Alitalia miles is for redemptions on their own flights (either for outright award tickets or for upgrades), and the value of that didn’t change with the recent devaluation.

alitalia-777

Tiffany wrote a post a couple of years back entitled “How (And Why) To Use Alitalia Miles,” which sums up the pros and cons of the program. On one hand they have some good redemption values, while on the other hand there are some quirky aspects to the program that make some redemptions complicated. Everything she wrote about redemptions on Alitalia metal is still true.

For example, Alitalia charges only 80,000 miles for roundtrip business class redemptions between the US and Europe, which is an exceptional value. However, there are fuel surcharges (~$850 roundtrip for business class).

alitalia-award-chart

With a 40% bonus, that means such an award would cost you just ~58,000 Membership Rewards points.

So there’s value to be had, especially if you’re looking for a saver level award ticket on Alitalia, or even one of their “flex” awards with better availability, which is generally still a good deal. Upgrades can also be a good deal, since Alitalia makes more upgrade space available than saver award space.

However, you’ll want to be aware of the quirks of the program, which is why I generally don’t recommend holding onto those miles.

Overall I’m a big fan of Alitalia’s business class product, and that’s despite the fact that I haven’t flown them since they’ve undergone a refresh.

Alitalia-Business-Class

Alitalia’s catering is exceptional, among the best offered by any airline in business class. As is the tradition in Italy, they serve both a primi and secondi. I’d say along with Austrian and Turkish, they have among the best catering in business class.

Alitalia-Pasta

Alitalia-Food

Bottom line

A 40% bonus on points transfers from Amex to Alitalia is among the best we’ve ever seen. Of course this also comes shortly after Alitalia made some changes to their program. My advice is the same as always with Alitalia — I’d only consider their program if redeeming for travel on Alitalia, and only if you’re familiar with the program. Otherwise there’s just too much that can go wrong.

Does anyone plan on taking advantage of the 40% bonus for transferring Amex points to Alitalia?

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. actually, when I booked them last month the taxes & fuel surcharge amount was $300 for a roundtrip business class… (JFK-FCO roundtrip biz)
    great use of the miles but use caution — they might do another devaluation in december because their award chart expires then… they are a terrible company to hoard miles with!

  2. Just booked MXP-JFK roundtrip for next week in business, I was charged 80k miles and 252€ for taxes and fuel surcharges, not as much as you are saying!

  3. Mark: Yes the do flight out of MIA. 48k one way, 80k r/t. I Just booked 2 return tkts for next September, 115k Amex membership miles transferred instantly = 161k + $296 each

  4. Mark,
    I also booked Alitalia award flights recently. I think you need to book further out than May to get the best fares (unless you get lucky!)

    I just checked their website, and MIA-FCO one-way in September is 48,000 miles (which of course would be reduced by 40% with the bonus. And roundtrips are even less!).

    Also, September is a fantastic time of year in Italy!

  5. Mark,
    for may is too late cause they have a little availability on their own flights. Recently they changed their award partner chart so 2000000 miles are because you found a trip with an Alitalia’s partner like Delta, Af or Klm. Last september I booked a trip with the old chart from Italy to SFO r/t for the next August 2017 at 50k miles with Az+Af and 320€ of taxes.

  6. Mark: Yes I did book from their website, but May shows only that crazy miles deal with partner airlines. You need to keep looking as they may have cancellations. If I am not mistaken, they do not charge a change fee if you make just a date change on the same route before flying the first leg, so you may want to book it far out and keep checking from time to time to see if your preferred dates open up. However, you need to be prepared to keep the original date if nothing opens up, as they do not allow miles redeposit.
    Today I called the Alitalia number in the US, and surprisignly I found a very nice and cooperative agent who gave me a lot of information. Big improvement since previous calls, maybe Etihad is really changing Alitalia
    I agree with Rick that September is a great month to visit Italy

  7. Based on their new award table, it would be cheaper for me to book an award ticket on Alitalia using miles from my Skyteam Air France Flying Blue program, than using my Millemiglia miles.

    It would be cheaper in miles, in extra taxes, in ease of booking, and I would be sure to find some availability.

    I’ve just discovered the HUGE mistake I made by earning my miles on Millemiglia instead of Flying Blue over the past year (80k miles for 6 to 7 long haul flights in Premium Economy).

    Please, don’t enroll in Millemiglia, their program is a joke !

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