A couple of weeks ago I covered Alitalia’s doubling the price of partner awards overnight.
Their partner award chart had said for a few weeks that it was ‘valid through October 14’ however no new chart was posted in advance. So members were shocked that many awards doubled.
A transatlantic economy award on Delta or Air France now costs 100,000 miles plus fuel surcharges which is simply insane.
In contrast, Alitalia still charges 80,000 miles roundtrip for business class on its own flights.
Alitalia flight award prices haven’t changed and that’s true for upgrades as well.
And there’s some good news in Alitalia’s changes as well.
- Improved online redemption. You can now book partner awards online, and also new cash and miles awards as well. That saves you the hassle of talking to Alitalia agents whom I place in the most frustrating quartile of airline call center staff.
- Better combinability of awards. You can combine economy and business class in an award, no penalty for one way bookings now, and cash and miles redemptions start at 345 miles up to full ‘pay with miles’ options (and those earn miles too).
- You can now cancel an award and redeposit miles, as well as pay award taxes and fees with miles and also use miles to pay for ancillary services like premium seating and baggage charges.
- Partner awards can be combined into a single ticket at one price.
- New miles for merchandise “MilleMiglia Gallery” with over 700 items to shop for.
I checked in with the Alitalia folks to find out what to expect going forward.
- The current Alitalia program will end December 31, 2017. They explain that the maximum validity of the program under Italian law is 5 years. In the past, their programs have lasted closed to 3 years. They’ve previously announced though that this time when the program expires members will get to keep their miles.
- The current award charts are published to expire December 31 but they tell me “we are planning to confirm shortly the current table until 31/12/2017 as well.” This should give confidence that we won’t see a devaluation before then and that Altalia’s cheap redemptions and upgrades for their own flights will remain in place for more than a year.
I still strongly believe the increase in partner award pricing is very out of step with competitors, and that the changes without notice are highly objectionable.
However – and I initially pointed this out as well – the continuation of Alitalia flight awards at the same price as before represents strong value, and combined with the expectation that those prices won’t be changing soon makes the program a continued useful one for members.