Alitalia Now Lets You Add A Stopover In Rome For Free (With A Catch)

There are several airlines that offer free stopover programs. Perhaps the two most popular are Icelandair and WOW Air. Both airlines are based in Iceland, but their business model is based primarily around transporting people from the US to mainland Europe. Not only do they offer efficient connections in Iceland, but they’ll let you plan a stopover there at no extra cost (ordinarily if you want a stopover on a ticket, it greatly increases the fare).

The general logic for offering a stopover program like this is twofold:

  • Airlines use this as a point of differentiation and hope it will cause more people to fly with them, especially when they’re based out of a cool city/country; this is very much something that could cause someone to fly with them over a competitor
  • Airlines can potentially earn extra revenue from this by partnering with local hotels, travel agencies, etc., and taking a commission on what people book

The latest airline to introduce a free stopover program is struggling Alitalia. Through December 31, 2018, Alitalia is offering a free stopover of up to three nights in Rome at no additional charge. As part of this stopover, you can also leave your baggage at the airport at no additional cost, and get discounted rates at the Sheraton Parco de Medici Rome Hotel.

Unfortunately there are two major catches with Alitalia’s stopover program:

  • Alitalia’s stopover program is only available for travel originating in India, Kenya, and South Africa, with final destinations worldwide except Canada, Mexico, Italy, and the USA
  • A ticket with Alitalia’s stopover program has to be booked through the call center; if you’ve ever used Alitalia’s call center before, you’ll know that has the potential to be an adventure

So while some stopover program is better than none, it doesn’t seem to me like they’re terribly serious about this. Only flights originating in three countries are eligible, and it’s not possible to book these online. I can’t imagine this program will be all that popular in its current form, though if they expand the eligible markets and allow online bookings, I could see this being much more popular.

What do you make of Alitalia’s stopover program? Would you take advantage of it if it were expanded and the booking process were simplified?

(Tip of the hat to Adam)

Comments

  1. I mean, Alitalia frequently provides pax with an involuntary multi-day stopover in Rome, so the advance notice seems like an improvement, if nothing else. 😉

  2. ROFLOL! Tiffany your nailed it! This article instantly brought back memories of my very first flight on Alitalia last year, where I stood in a queue for over an hour and a half just to check in on a 1 hour or so flight from Florence to Rome. Eventually the checkin staff arrived at the empty counter just before a riot almost broke out amongst the waiting queue when one of the managers was spotted watching the scene in the distance and doing absolutely nothing…. I learned my lesson and will never fly them again.

  3. I flew Alitalia back in 2007 to Egypt (JFK-FCO-CAI) and for some reason, spending three days in Rome on the return trip was $19 cheaper than a simple roundtrip. Very bizarre.

  4. It seems that whatever you need from Alitalia you need to call their call center. They have a terrible website and it is impossible to finish a purchase in their site. That is probably why they say you have to call.

  5. I like to fly fun routes. I love a stopover. But if I’m not sure my airline will be in business at the end of the three days, that’s more excitement than I want.

  6. The funnier thing is that of those three origin countries Alitalia only serves only one city in only one of the countries!

    Alitalia flies daily to Delhi but doesn’t fly to Kenya or South Africa at all!

  7. I called Alitalia this week to change a Milan – Rome ticket. The charming lady told me, with great confidence, that there were no flights after 14.00 on a Tuesday between LIN and FCO. It was only when I looked up the flight number on their own website that she booked the 15.00 service

  8. @CPH-DUDE: I have been flying Alitalia inside Italy where we go on family vacation for many years. I have never had a single issue with them. Planes are clean, they offer a decent snack on domestic flights and Recaro leather seats are amazing. FA smile and are dressed impeccably. Flights were always on time. I have nothing to complain at least when flying domestically with Alitalia.

  9. Horrible airline. I flew with them once in 2004 and never again. While I love the idea of a free stopover, I will never fly Alitalia. But I hope more European airlines will start offering free stopovers.

  10. Alitalia is awful, flew them couple of months ago. Seats are cramped (and ridiculously cramped on their domestic A320’s – I have never even seen anything like this, even on any of the low cost carriers), cabins worn out (I’ve had duct tape on my armrest), food is poor/non-existent (one small stale cupcake on a 3,5 hour flight from Moscow, one glass of water on Naples-Palermo flight, one small frozen sandwich on a 4 hour flight between Palermo and Moscow), they delayed my flight for virtually no reason, rebooked my connecting flight to Naples for the next one in 5 hours and refused compensation, and the cabin crew is mostly miserable, though in this regard there are some exceptions. Considering Alitalia normally is priced more or less the same as SWISS, Lufthansa or Turkish for travel from Moscow to Europe, I’d avoid that poor excuse of an airline, even if it had stopovers on flights from Russia.

  11. Delhi is seasonal. They don’t fly to Kenya Johannesburg resumes in April.
    Furthermore those are destinations where residents need a visa to stopover in Europe !

    They ignore their largest markets (USA) where they could gain more business as there are many who would love to visit Rome and don’t need a visa

    And why can’t they offer it online It’s quite easy to offer and sell a fare with a stopover Most Airlines do it I’ve flown via Amsterdam Paris and Munich with a stopover of 2 days Bought the tickets on line. No issue

  12. @Santastico: my experience is just completely opposite your, flying CPH-ROM-SUF in 2014. CPH-ROM flight was OK, but 3 hours delay in Roma with a very limited information of why plane was delayed..(not to blame all on Alitalia) Domestic flight from ROM-SUF was dirty, rude and at a service level under minimum and prophetly served the coldest cup of coffee ever. But I happy that you have a nice experience with them.

  13. Considering that Alitalia is under bankruptcy protection and will be sold and probably broken up later this year makes these strange actions more bizarre than ever. It’s always been an airline run mainly for the benefit of its’ employees.

  14. While Alitalia and Sheraton Parco de Medici make a great team of equally bad service – only being able to book this tempting combination through the utmost ridiculous and world‘s worst callcenter makes this a no-brainer to ignore 🙂

  15. We flew business ORD-FCO. Food was good, seats were good, service was great one way and ok the other. Cheap too, as I used (58K)AMEX points. BUT the call center was a nightmare!!! They canceled my return flight due to schedule change, but didn’t help me find return ticket. SO I had to cancel everything and find other times. AND they don’t know their own rules. The lounge in Rome was nice!

  16. This is an airline that unilaterally calls a halt to their current frequent flyer program and gives you 3 months to use all their miles. Funny thing is that whenever I try to book a flight it goes up to 2 million miles transatlantic.

  17. Regarding stopover programs, I guess TAP Portugal is the reference: up to 5days and no origin restrictions, for free.

  18. That is odd… every single of my bi-annual trips to family I never Europe had free (or almost free, like $10 on $1000 ticket) stopover in one direction. Done this twice on Alitalia, once on Air France and Austrian… and this was for full week stopover in middle of summer. I took this for granted, as they are selling you exactly the same thing, just a week later. Unless you hit exactly the first date of ferragosta, this Sunday costs pretty much the same as the following Sunday, so total ticket cost ends up almost the same. Extra cost to the airline of offloading your bag from the plane is negligeable in whole fare calculation. I thought WOW and Norwegian just positioned it as brand thing, not that is unique to those airlines in any way. Heck, I can buy united ticket to Hawaii with stopover in connection city for same price as the one with 2 hour connection. Why would stopover cost more?

  19. Turkish have a nice stopover option which includes a tour of the city. It was what made me decide to use them Europe to Africa on a reasonably regular basis – especially as their C Class product was very competitively priced (c£1300 LGW to MBA rtn). One of the few ‘European’ carriers flying into MBA and avoiding a NBO transit… That said, if you are on a SkyTeam carrier, NBO is a dream now!

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