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Qatar Airways recently acquired a 49% stake in Meridiana, which they rebranded as Air Italy. Qatar Airways has crazy expansion plans for the airline, as they want to take advantage of Alitalia’s weakness to make Air Italy the national carrier.
Air Italy already took over several Qatar Airways A330s, and over the coming years they’ll lease up to 30 787s from Qatar Airways, which will help them rapidly expand.
As part of these changes, Air Italy is making Milan their hub, and this summer they’ve launched flights to New York and Miami. The best way to redeem miles for these flights is using Avios (ideally those with British Airways), so in this post I wanted to look at what that process is like, for anyone who is considering such a redemption.
Where does Air Italy fly?
Air Italy’s US destinations include New York and Miami. On top of that, later this year they’ll be starting longhaul service to Bangkok, Delhi, and Mumbai.
Their shorthaul network consists primarily of destinations within Italy, though they also operate to some other countries in Europe.
How many Avios are required for Air Italy flights?
Here’s the pricing for redeeming British Airways Avios on Air Italy:
|Zone // Flight Distance||Economy||Business|
These prices are all per segment, so if you have a connecting itinerary, you’d have to pay based on the cost of each individual segment.
For example, a nonstop flight between Milan and the US will cost you 25,000 Avios in economy or 75,000 Avios in business class (technically JFK to MXP is under 4,000 miles so should be cheaper, but unfortunately they use city pair distances, and NYC to MIL is over 4,000 miles, hence the higher pricing).
You should also be able to redeem Iberia Avios for travel on Air Italy, and the redemption rates will be slightly different, as follows:
Iberia’s award chart pricing is one-way, and is based on the cumulative distance of a journey. In other words, a one-way business class ticket from New York or Miami to Milan would cost 62,500 Avios (a better deal than through British Airways), while a one-way business class ticket from the US to India or Thailand would cost 125,000 Avios.
I haven’t been able to pull up Air Italy awards on Iberia’s website, though, so you may have to call, which can be an adventure.
Are there surcharges on Air Italy redemptions?
There are, and they should match what would be charged on a paid ticket. The easiest way to look this up is to use ITA Matrix, and pull up the flights you want to book. When you get to the page with the price, expect that you’ll be responsible for paying everything except the base fare.
For example, a one-way New York to Milan ticket in business class has $127 in carrier imposed surcharges, and your total “out of pocket” is $172. While I’d prefer if there were no surcharges, this is reasonable, and so much cheaper than the surcharges on British Airways.
The fees are exactly the same in economy, which isn’t as good of a deal, obviously.
The total cost will be a little bit higher if originating in Italy, because the taxes and fees on those tickets are a bit higher.
How is Air Italy award availability?
Much to my surprise, Air Italy award seats are bookable directly on ba.com. This surprises me because back in the day Meridiana awards weren’t bookable on BA’s website, and for that matter I don’t remember the last time that BA has added a partner airline award option to their website.
While I’m not finding them to be terribly consistent with releasing award seats, Air Italy seems to often release two business class award seats per flight, and even more seats in economy.
The ticket should price out exactly as you’d expect based on the above (with the slightly higher taxes on a ticket from Milan to New York).
While they seem to release a lot of award availability when the schedule opens, they don’t release much award availability close to departure, though that could just be a function of it being the peak summer travel period at the moment. For example, the next date with award availability from New York to Milan in business class is July 9.
What is Air Italy business class like?
Air Italy’s A330s have old Qatar Airways interiors, with angled flat seats. Obviously these seats aren’t ideal, though they’re a massive improvement over Meridiana’s old 767s, which had recliner seats.
I’m hoping to review them soon so I’m not exactly sure what their soft product is like. I was impressed by the service and food when I flew Meridiana business class last year, and I imagine it has greatly improved since then, and has Qatar Airways service elements.
How can you earn British Airways Avios?
British Airways is transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest, so there are lots of ways to earn Avios.
It’s great to see the expansion of Air Italy, and the additional award options that this opens up for passengers. The best way to redeem on Air Italy is using Avios, and you can expect to pay 75,000 Avios one-way in business class between the US and Europe, with only mild carrier imposed surcharges.
While their business class hard product isn’t great, I suspect the food and service are excellent. Furthermore, the airline will be getting 787s soon enough.
Award availability on Air Italy is generally quite good, and the ability to book these tickets directly on British Airways’ website is the icing on the cake.
Anyone considering redeeming Avios for travel on Air Italy?