Alitalia’s MilleMiglia loyalty program has some gems on its award chart and is an oft-overlooked American Express transfer partner. Highlights include:
- North America-Southern South America 75,000 miles roundtrip in business class
- North America-North Asia 90,000 miles roundtrip in business class
- North America-Tahiti 90,000 miles roundtrip in business class
- North America-Southeast Asia 95,000 miles roundtrip in business class
- North America-India 100,000 miles roundtrip in business class
While not last-seat availability, MilleMiglia also offers “standard” awards if you have less flexibility in your travel plans. For example, North America-Europe is 200,000 miles roundtrip in business class. Not a sensational deal to be sure, but helpful in a pinch.
Alitalia award flights can be booked online, but SkyTeam partners require a call to Alitalia’s call center (1.800.223.5730) to book. The good news is that there is rarely a hold required to speak to an agent. But that’s about the only upside…
Agents are generally friendly, but extremely incompetent and extremely constrained in what they can do. I had a client who wanted to send his father from Los Angeles to Taipei on China Airlines. Only 90K on the Alitalia award chart compared to 180K with Air France/KLM Flying Blue or 120K with Delta Skymiles.
He had tried to book it himself and got nowhere with the telephone agents before turning to me. It took me a few calls, but I finally found an agent who was willing to let me walk him through how to book it–put in the city pair, put in the airline code for China Airlines (CI), put in the dates, then search for the specific flight numbers. The space was found and ticket issued. A confirmation from Alitalia was received almost immediately with the booked flights.
But the agent could not provide the China Airlines record locator. Whenever I book an award with a partner carrier, I wait just under 24 hours then check with each of the partner airlines to make sure the respective flights are properly reserved in their own system. If there is a problem, it is best to catch and correct it early.
China Airlines has limited call center hours in its U.S. (Los Angeles) office and the following day after about a 20 minute hold I reached an agent who confirmed the flights were in the system. All set. Or not?
A couple days later, my client e-mailed me and said he had called China Airlines to try to assign seats for his father and they said there was problem with the reservation. I picked up the phone and called CI. The agent pulled up the reservation and stated that Alitalia had never confirmed the reservation and therefore the space had cancelled.
I thanked her and called Alitalia back. An agent empathically stated, “The reservation is fine. China Airlines cannot see it because it is an Alitalia reservation.”
Next call–the agent was quite argumentative, stating that the reservation was intact because the flights still showed confirmed on his screen. He refused to check with a supervisor.
I knew I would not get far with Alitalia, so I called China Airlines back. I reached a great agent who, after listening to my story about Alitallia’s refusal to help, sold the flights in the reservation and somehow re-issued the ticket herself. I do not know how she did it, but everything was now fine, no thanks to Alitalia.
Fast forward a couple months. The client’s father decided to postpone the trip to the fall and called upon me to change the reservation. I verified space on the Flying Blue website and called Alitalia back to make the change (date changes on an award ticket are complimentary).
The first agent claimed the space was not there after taking about 10 minutes to search for it. I could not help but to wryly ask him to revisit his training manual before taking the next call. The next agent found the space and re-issued the ticket. I again received a copy of the updated e-ticket almost immediately.
But the next day when I called China Airlines, the old flights were still in the system. The agent refused to update the travel dates (rightfully so) and directed me back to Alitalia. Alitalia was again no help at all. They claimed the reservation was in order, new dates confirmed, and that the problem was with China Airlines.
A back and forth ensued, with me finally conferencing in both parties. Even that was not productive — I had to find another CI agent willing to rebook the space for me. It took a few phone calls, but finally I did. The reservation is now in order.
What I did — and the China Airlines agents did for me — was not proper protocol. Alitalia, as the issuing carrier, should be the carrier that makes changes up until departure and I’ve never seen a partner airline intervene, as China Airlines did here. But I am thankful they did.
Be warned if booking Skyteam partner space on Alitalia: it may not be a straightforward process.
Good to know, thanks Matt!
Is Flying Blue the best place to search CI space? Does DL have access to space shown there? Thanks!
Hi Ted, Flying Blue or Expert Flyer are good for CI space, though EF has only economy. DL access will match what Flying Blue shows unless there is a Delta-imposed blackout date.
thanks for the warning, in most cases value stands out above everything else but in this case, i rather spend a little more miles for less headdag
Thanks Matt – seems like it’s another good reason to avoid Skyteam unless you’re looking for something specific. I’ve always had a great time working with Star Alliance carriers – wonder why SkyTeam is lagging in their approach? Consistency should be a focus across the carriers.
@Rich; Skyteam is way behind Star in particular and I do not understand why they cannot move more quickly to streamline a Starnet-like system and standardize award booking classes.
What was the tax/fuel surcharge for this itinerary? Wondering what would be the cheapest redemption for LAX-ICN on business RT, including all fees.
Taxes/fees were $298 r/t.
If you can find KE space in business, taxes/fees will be only about $60 r/t using Delta miles, but AZ is a great option for only 90K miles…
The better option, though, is US Airways for 90K miles–via Europe if you want, but decent space from SFO-ICN on UA with great lie-flat seats and no fuel surcharge.
Thank you for the info
DO NOT join Alitalias MilleMiglia scheme – they will continue to spam you forever and just will not stop no matter how many times you unsubscribe or tell them to stop doing it.
You have been warned.
AZ Millemilglia is a complete joke. Airfrance.com and Delta.com will show availability for Skyteam partner airlines, but AZ agents will claim there is no availability in the system. Even if you spoon feed exact flight numbers. At other times, they will promise to call you back but they never will. One agent will tell you a set of rules, that the other agent will deny. For example, one told me that it is permissible to have a stopover and an open jaw i.e. A-B stopover B-C open jaw D-A as long as travel involves two different Skyteam airlines. After hunting around and getting the perfect itinerary, I called back to book, and they said this was not allowed. They refuse to check flights with co-terminals (e.g. arriving in JFK and leaving out of LGA). Finally I got an agent to confirm the itinerary, transferred 240K Amex MR points, and lo behold, the next agent would not book the itinerary (all flights showed available on delta.com, in the correct classes – CS/YS).
After being used to the professionalism and courtesy of AA agents, this was a complete revelation to me.
I can confirm that Alitalia MilleMiglia sends me spam, even if I have unsubscribed multiple times, as my account settings correctly show.