Earlier today I wrote about Alitalia devaluing their award chart overnight, and in some cases awards now cost more than double. Well, more details have now surfaced. It’s not as devastating as it seems initially, and there are still good redemption options (phew). However, you now have far less flexibility in terms of carrier options, and much of the program has essentially been gutted.
Previously, Alitalia offered just one award chart, for travel on Alitalia metal and partner airlines. This award chart did bear the “Valid until 14/10/2016” tag as early as September, as seen in Google Cache. However, Alitalia never announce what the changes would be after October 14.
It now appears that Alitalia will actually have two separate award charts, one for traveling on Alitalia’s own metal, and the other for any itinerary that involves partner airlines. Many airlines have similar schemes, so this in and of itself isn’t surprising. It’s the way the changes were implemented that’s upsetting.
The new award charts are not yet available on the English website, but have been posted on the Italian website. The Alitalia award chart remains the same as the old chart, which is good news. However, the partner airlines chart has basically been gutted.
I did a few dummy bookings, and it dose appear that flights on Alitalia’s own metal will be maintained at pre-October 14 levels. For example, I can fly round-trip between New York JFK and Milan (MXP) for 80,000 miles in business class, plus ~$281 in fees, which is actually a pretty nice redemption.
Because Alitalia levies fuel surcharges when the airline assess them, one of the main, desirable redemption option involved using Alitalia miles on Delta flights. However, with this new award chart, Delta flights will now cost 200,000 miles to fly roundtrip, which is hardly worth it.
Case in point, you can redeem just 140,000 Delta SkyMiles for the same ticket.
Make no mistake, this is a devaluation, but it’s not as bad as I initially thought it was. Essentially, redemptions on Alitalia metal has not changed, but redemptions on partner airlines now cost double (or more). I maintain that this is a bad move on their part, since this is something they could have clearly announced in advance. This latest award chart is valid until December 31, 2016, and I won’t count on things staying the same after that.
Alitalia remains a reasonable choice if you want to redeem miles to fly on Alitalia’s own flights, since the prices have not changed. However, there are far better options in redeeming partner awards. This latest devaluation will significantly reduce your flexibility in using Alitalia miles.
For what it’s worth, American Express is still running a promotion on transfers to Alitalia. You will earn a 25% bonus if you transfer your Membership Rewards points into Alitalia miles before October 31, 2016.