Alitalia Just Did What?! Doubling of Award Pricing Overnight?

SkyTeam member Alitalia has the strangest frequent flyer program in the world.

  • Instead of expiring miles, the program itself used to expire.
  • With each new program every few years you could credit flights to your account to earn back the miles you had.

The program was supposed to end in 2015, but it was extended through August 2016 and members were told they’d get to keep their miles in the new program.

I wrote a the time, “I wouldn’t accumulate Alitalia’s miles until they release what the changes to the program are going to be. But at least miles won’t go away when the program goes away!”

Over the summer they extended the program through the end of 2016. Based on past precedent, I expected the current award chart — which has some great values — to last through the end of the year (and probably be significantly devalued in 2017).

I assumed this decision was the result of a delay in moving Alitalia to a new computer system. That finally happened this weekend.

And now — without notice — Alitalia’s award chart says it was only valid through this past Friday.

The chart is still there, there is no new chart available. So the only pricing on the website, for instance, shows that roundtrip business class on Alitalia between the US and Italy is 80,000 miles (plus taxes and fees).

Loyalty Lobby writes that award prices have gone up as much as 100%. Apparently referencing partner awards,

Seems that both economy and business class partner awards (at least between Europe – North America) now require 100% more miles and insane taxes/fees (mainly fuel surcharges).

…It is absolutely crazy trying to charge 100,000 miles for transatlantic economy awards combined with 350 in taxes/fees. You can often buy a paid ticket for roughly the same amount during slow season.

American Express Membership Rewards has a 25% transfer bonus to Millemiglia this month. When I wrote about that on October 2, I concluded “I would not transfer unless you’re going to redeem these miles right away” and I suggested a devaluation was in the offing.

I had no idea it could happen this soon. If you were enticed by Alitalia’s award chart and American Express’ transfer bonus I would complain to American Express about this duplicitous behavior.

Update: It appears based on details available on Alitalia’s Italian website that Alitalia-only awards haven’t gone up in price, while partner awards have more or less doubled without notice.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I looked at joining Alitalia’s program a long while ago but even then put it in the “too hard to be worthwhile” basket. Seems a good decision. The Italians have long been experts at over-complicating even the simplest transaction.

  2. Alitalia was scheduled to undergo a MAJOR IT upgrade yesterday. This may be a side effect of that and not necessarily accurate…. even speaking with an Alitalia rep might not yield correct information today.

  3. @Gary – since Alitalia is partly owned by Etihad, presumably you could use Etihad Guest miles to redeem, right? And if so, does this potential devaluation from Alitalia make Etihad the better program?

  4. Alitalia is the nastiest and crappiest airline in the world with the rudest most obnoxious waiters and waitresses. They supersede rudeness of United trashy fat gay waiters and ugly old grandma waitresses walking in Koma (after taking sleeping pills on the Sydney flights)…
    The Alitalia trash kept arguing with me about the broken equipment and special meals.
    They piled up suitcases in front of the exit row violating every rule.
    They lost our bags to Morocco and I have sent in so many complaint letters and a complaint to DOT and still not answer or compensation.
    All my miles expired, and it was a complete waste a few years ago to deposit my full fare business class flights to their program.
    I can not believe that Etihad has invested in the most dysfunctional airline in the world.
    Italians can not even handle replacing a cold cup of coffee without charging you 5 euro, needless to run an airline!

  5. There is a mistake in the new awards chart publication of viewtothewing etc. The one published is the Multicarrier Chart, i.e. if using 2 or more SkyTeam airlines for your flight. This was more expensive before already. The SkyTeam Chart has not gone up and costs 80.000 miles for Business Redemption between the US and Europe as before. You can see that on the Italian and German website (didn’t check the US site) So I cannot see any devaluation.

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