Dumpster Fire Program Alitalia Will Go Revenue-Based for 2018

Alitalia is being restructured again because Etihad is the latest investor to decide it’s done losing money on the transatlantic debacle.

Alitalia’s frequent flyer program is a separate company, spun off so that Etihad could give Alitalia more cash and so that Etihad could exercise more control all without running afoul of foreign ownership rules.

And the Millemiglia frequent flyer program is one of the real dumpster fires of loyalty. And not just for doubling partner award prices overnight either.

Some loyalty programs expire miles. Alitalia expires the program. Everyone’s mileage goes away at the end of the year when the program resets. If you want your miles back, they have a promotion to earn them back.

However the new program will be different. In a reminder email sent out about the opportunity to earn back miles after they’re all zeroed, Alitalia said this,

Le tabelle di accumulo miglia saranno riviste per dare maggior valore ai tuoi acquisti Alitalia.

Infatti l’ammontare delle miglia guadagnate sarà più vicino al valore della tariffa acquistata.

Google translates this to:

    The miles accumulation tables will be reviewed to give greater value to your Alitalia purchases.
    In fact, the amount of miles earned will be closer to the value of the fare purchased.

Copyright: jvdwolf / 123RF Stock Photo

Last month Air France KLM Flying Blue announced that miles for flights would be earned based on ticket spend however earning would be less generous than in the U.S..

Then a week ago Lufthansa announced that their Miles & More program would do the same but with less generous elite bonuses than Air France.

In both cases the programs laid out how miles would be earned going forward, though not what changes would occur on the redemption side. And Air France was explicit that there would be redemption changes too. Alitalia hasn’t yet laid out either as far as I have seen.

In the U.S. revenue-based changes have largely meant fewer miles earned than before, de-emphasizing miles earned via flying relative to credit card spend. Miles for flying only comprises about one-third of miles earned. It’s also meant more miles for short non-stops and fewer miles for longer flights. Revenue-based changes have also coincided with award chart devaluations so nobody is rewarded more than before.

In Europe programs are already largely revenue-based on the earn side, since miles are earned as a fraction (or multiple) of distance based on fare class. Revenue-based changes largely mean more miles for short non-stops, and fewer miles for discount premium class fares. We’ll see what happens on the redemption devaluation side.

Although if you take Alitalia at face value, it almost sounds like they’re prepared to roll out the partner award chart devaluation — though I’m skeptical.

You will have new opportunities to use your accumulated miles.

In addition, the miles required for award tickets with airline partners will be revised to allow you to fly more easily to destinations not reached directly by Alitalia.

(HT: Chris M.)

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. Alitalia’s program is actually pretty amazing. 80k Millemiglia miles round trip in business to Italy (on Alitalia itself) is hard to beat, when Delta would charge 170k points. The Alitalia hard and soft products are top of the line in business class – same seats as Etihad (which I find extremely comfortable), and exceptional food, as you’d expect from the Italian airline. Actually, in my opinion Alitalia serves the best food of any airline in Europe, and I’d take them over any other skyteam carrier any day (with the caveat that there are a few Asian ones I haven’t tried and have heard great things about)
    On the downside, you have small quibbles such as not knowing whether the airline will still be in existence at the time of your flights, and the occasional overnight doubling of award prices, and the entire program expiring 🙂 Also, I once went to board my business class flight and was asked whether I’d give up my business class seat for a displaced passenger in return for €150.
    Alitalia, once an abysmal airline, really has a top-notch product thanks to the help of Etihad– if only they could get their act together in terms of efficiency and organization, they would thrive.

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