3 perfect days in Rome

How to Fly to Italy with Miles and Points

Ahh Italy, a place with amazing history, gorgeous architecture, and food that’s beyond compare. It’s no wonder Italy is a bucket-list destination for many people.

What’s even better is that visiting Italy with the help of points and miles can reduce our costs whenever we fly to Italy from the USA.   

But searching for the best award flights to Italy can be frustrating!

So in this guide, we’ll take a look at the best ways to fly to Italy using your miles and points and how to search for and book that award flight.

How to Fly to Italy with Miles and Points

Generally speaking, round trip economy flights to Italy using your points will cost around 60,000 points per person, plus taxes and fees.

There are some exceptions. And occasionally, you might score a great deal on a promotion or bonus transfer, but spending 60,000 miles or points is a great ballpark figure to have in mind.

U.S.-based airlines have moved to dynamic pricing so it can be hard to know if the price we’re seeing is actually a good deal. Having a rough figure in mind will help you weed out the possibilities that are insanely high.

And once you’re in Italy, the train system is fantastic, so you shouldn’t have any issues exploring different parts of the country, whether you want to visit the Cinque Terre or Bari. You can see the beautiful countryside all while seeing multiple cities in Italy.

Use Etihad Miles to Fly American Airlines to Italy

If you aren’t familiar with Etihad Guest, I’d recommend looking into the program because it can offer fantastic value. One key piece of information to know about Etihad miles, they’re a non-alliance partner with American Airlines. 

While American Airlines is using dynamic award prices that fluctuate with demand and seasonality, Etihad is actually using the old American Airlines award chart.

You’ll notice one-way flights can be as low as 20,000 Etihad miles to fly one-way in economy, or only 50,000 Etihad miles to fly one-way business class to Italy, which is an amazing value. 

Etihad award chart

The Etihad award chart offers off-peak pricing which is favorable for flying to Europe. Etihad even uses the old American Airlines off-peak award dates from October 15th to May 15th.

Etihad off peak award dates

Now, look at American Airlines off-peak dates.

AA off peak award dates

You’ll see that Etihad offers a much larger range of off-peak dates than American Airlines! 

How to Book an Award Flight to Italy with Etihad Miles

In order to book an AA flight to Italy using your Etihad Guest miles, you will need to search American Airlines for award space. When you search the American Airlines website, you must find SAAver availability for Etihad to book your flight.

In addition, the flight must be flown on American Airlines metal, which means you must fly on an American Airlines plane. To make this easier, you can actually filter your search to show only American Airlines-operated flights. 

ProTip: It can be tricky to know what is true SAAver space with dynamic pricing. Cross-check what you’re seeing with other Oneworld Airlines like British Airways and Qantas. If they can see the same flight, it’s SAAver space and Etihad will see it, too. You can also use a tool like Expert Flyer.

American Airlines Philadelphia to Rome Flight Screenshot
Checking for SAAver space on ExpertFlyer, I can see this off-peak economy flight is SAAver but Business class is not.

Here’s an example of an award search on the American Airlines website from Philadelphia to Rome. The prices set by American Airlines are not important because you won’t be paying them. You must only check that the flights are flown by American Airlines and that the availability you’re seeing is SAAver space. 

Assuming what you found was indeed SAAver space, it would only cost 50,000 Etihad miles one way per person If you were looking to fly business class to Italy. With American Airlines’ dynamic pricing, you’ll see prices starting at 57,500 miles for one-way business class.

Once you find the American-operated flights you need, write down the flight information and call Etihad to book the award.

How to Earn Etihad Miles

To earn Etihad miles, simply transfer your  Citi ThankYou PointsAmex Membership Rewards, or Capital One Venture Miles to your Etihad account.

You can earn these flexible travel rewards points with credit cards like:

That makes earning Etihad miles extremely easy and opens up the opportunity to book American Airlines flights to Italy for fewer miles than American Airlines would charge.

Get to Italy Using Emirates Skywards Miles

It might be surprising to see Emirates on this list of award flights to Italy. But, Emirates operates a daily flight from New York-JFK to Milan. It’s called a Fifth Freedom route because it departs and arrives at destinations outside the airline’s home country.

Emirates doesn’t publish an award chart so you can’t see exactly what they’re charging for award flights to Milan. However, there are a few things we know.

Roundtrip awards in economy cost as little as 45k Emirates miles and roundtrip business costs as little as 90k Emirates miles. This is a fantastic deal.

Not only is the price noteworthy, but Emirates is known for its high-quality service onboard its flights. This route is also typically flown using an A380.

How to Book an Award Flight to Italy with Emirates Miles

Emirates JFK-Milan Business Class Flight Screenshot
90k Emirates miles + $158 in taxes & fees for business class on the A380!

First, log in to your Emirates account. Then, from the “Search Flights” box, check the Classic Rewards box and enter your search criteria (NYC-JFK-Milan).

To take advantage of this flight, you must depart from NYC. So, if you’re located elsewhere in the U.S, you’ll need to position yourself with another airline to NYC.

When entering your dates of travel, check the +/-3 days option to see a calendar view of award flights. The calendar view allows you to see availability but also the dates with the cheapest price.

Once you find the flights you need, follow the prompts to book the flight online.

How to Earn Emirates Skywards Miles

Emirates miles are very easy to earn because they are a transfer partner with every flexible points currency, including, Chase, American Express, Citi, Capital One, and Marriott.

You can earn these flexible travel rewards points with credit cards like:

Get to Italy Using Delta SkyMiles

I know what you’re thinking, Delta SkyMiles are worthless! While SkyMiles might not be the most valuable travel currency on the market, Delta SkyMiles can still offer some fantastic value, especially when it comes to their Flash Sales. 

Delta SkyMiles award ticket prices are based on the ticket price, so these tickets can be very inexpensive…or they can be outrageous in price. You just don’t know until you search on Delta’s website!

For example, take this round trip from New York To Rome. It’ll only cost 34,000 miles and $80.33 for a round-trip ticket. This definitely qualifies as one of those Delta deals to Italy!

Delta award flight to rome

Fact is, it’s an absolute steal, especially when you consider the ballpark figure of 60k miles round trip in economy for flights to Italy. 

But if you were looking to fly business class to Rome, on Delta One, it would cost you, over 400,000 Delta miles, which is insanely expensive! 

Delta One to Rome

How to Earn Delta SkyMiles

You can earn SkyMiles from their American Express co-branded Delta credit cards, American Express Membership Rewards earning credit cards, or even transferring Marriott Bonvoy points. 

The co-branded Delta cards include:

ProTip: If you transfer American Express points to Delta, you’re required to pay the excise tax of 0.0006 cents per points, up to a max of $99.

Get to Italy from the USA with Virgin Atlantic Points

As good as that Delta deal above is, it’s also equally possible that Delta will be charging a ridiculous number of miles for award flights to Italy. After all, those deals are typically part of flash sales.

That’s where a partner like Virgin Atlantic can help. Even though it can be tough to find depending on how much award space Delta shares with its partners, it’s worth looking for non-stop Delta-operated flights on Virgin’s website.

Not only is the pricing likely to be equal or better than Delta’s, but also Virgin Atlantic doesn’t pass on fuel surcharges on Delta-operated flights.

Regardless of what Delta is charging, Virgin Atlantic charges 30k for a one-way in economy and 50k for a one-way in business. In this case, that business class seat would be in Delta One.

Virgin Atlantic ATL-FCO Flight Screenshot

Here’s an award search from Virgin Atlantic’s website. You can see 30k Virgin Atlantic Points for a one-way economy class seat. This flight is operated by their partner Delta.

On the exact same flight, on the exact same date, Delta is charging 88k Delta miles one-way for the exact same seat in economy class.

Delta ATL-FCO Flight Screenshot

One important thing to note is it’s best to book direct flights with your Virgin Atlantic Points or else the price will go up.

Delta miles can be useful during flash sales and even standard award pricing that is within that standard range of 60k miles roundtrip in economy for a flight to Italy.

However, if you have the flexibility and can award space on Virgin Atlantic’s website, you have the potential to save a ton of miles and points on your flight to Italy.

How to Earn Virgin Atlantic Points

They’re transfer partners of Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, and Marriott Bonvoy

You can earn these flexible travel rewards with cards like:

Fly to Italy from the USA Using Avianca LifeMiles

I’m a fan of Avianca LifeMiles because they offer some great value for Star Alliance flights, especially when it comes to business class flights. 

Flights to Italy start at just 30,000 LifeMiles each way and for business would be just 63,000 LifeMiles each way. To put that into perspective, United charges 70,000+ miles for business class partner awards.  

Unfortunately, Avianca doesn’t publish an award chart anymore, and to find prices, you’ll need to search the LifeMiles website. 

Avianca’s website can be a bit quirky to navigate, but they don’t pass on fuel surcharges, which is a great money saver. Also, you’re able to book mixed cabin awards online, which gives you more options to customize your flights and potentially save miles.

Here’s an example from Chicago to Rome. You’ll notice you have the option to book your flight in economy, business class, or even book a mixed cabin award. 

Avianca business class to Europe

If you booked a mixed cabin award, with the Chicago to Frankfurt segment of your ticket in business class and your Frankfurt to Rome segment in economy class, your itinerary would only cost 59,000 LifeMiles! 

Learn more about using Lifemiles for cheaper Star Alliance flights to maximize your redemptions.

How to Earn Avianca LifeMiles

Earning Avianca LifeMiles is extremely easy to earn. They’re transfer partners of Amex Membership RewardsCiti ThankYou Points, Capital One Miles, and Marriott Bonvoy points.

You can earn these flexible travel rewards points with cards like:

You could even apply for Avianca’s co-branded credit cards.

How to Get to Italy using ANA Miles

Another fantastic Star Alliance option is booking an award flight to Italy using ANA miles.

ANA (All Nippon Airways) doesn’t fly to Italy but their partner, United, does. Even better is United-operated flights don’t incur the high surcharges that are typical with ANA award tickets.

ANA charges 88k miles roundtrip for a business class seat between the U.S. and Europe. Award flights must be booked as a roundtrip.

The key to booking this award flight is to fly on United-operated flights. This is easier said than done because finding United business class availability to Italy can be tough.

Search on United’s website to see a calendar view of award space. This can help you narrow down dates before searching on ANA’s website.

Once logged in to your ANA account, replicate the searches you did on United. I always select the +/- 3 days to see a range on ANA because if I haven’t exactly found what I was looking for on United I can see options that include other Star Alliance partners.

Take a look at this example of a business class itinerary showing up on ANA’s website.

United ANA EWR-MXP Flight Screenshot

The outbound flight is a direct United-operated flight from Newark to Milan. I successfully found a business class seat on the United website. However, I couldn’t find a return flight 100% on United.

So I looked for the next best thing. I selected a return flight that had a short flight operated by Lufthansa from Milan to another European city, in this case, Munich. Then, the Munich to Newark leg was operated by United. This helped to mitigate as much of the surcharges as possible because United still operated the longest leg.

How to Earn ANA Miles

ANA is a transfer partner of American Express and Marriott Bonvoy. You can earn these transferrable points with cards like:

How to Travel to Italy using Aeroplan Miles

Most times Aeroplan’s award pricing will fall among the average mileage prices. Not bad, not noteworthy, comparable to others like United.

However, what sets them apart is their Star Alliance membership and that they don’t pass on surcharges as ANA does. This opens up the possibility to book award tickets with other Star Alliance carriers like Swiss Air and Lufthansa, which would come with hundreds if not thousands of dollars in fees if booked through ANA.

Aeroplan’s award chart divides the world into 4 zones. Within those zones, there are award pricing tiers based on distance flown.

For most destinations in Europe, a one-way business class seat will cost 60k-85k.

To search, you’ll need to log in to your Aeroplan account first. Be sure to toggle the points button as you enter your search criteria to see award flights.

In this example flying from Chicago to Venice, it’ll cost 70,000 miles each way in business class. The total for this award itinerary with flights operated by Lufthansa and Swiss Air is 140k miles + $170.00 CAD. 

Aeroplan ORD -Venice RoundTrip Business class screenshot

Compare Aeroplan’s pricing with ANA’s pricing for the exact same award itinerary. The total miles is a fantastic 88k for a roundtrip in business class. However, the taxes and fees are an eye-searing $1,644.87!

ANA ORD-VENICE HIGH FEES Flight ScreenshotANA ORD-VENICE HIGH FEES Flight Screenshot

Learn more about how to redeem your Aeroplan miles for the best value in this guide.

How to Earn Aeroplan Miles

To earn Aeroplan miles, transfer points from Membership Rewards, Capital One Miles, or Marriott Bonvoy points. 

You can earn these flexible travel rewards points with cards like:

Book Italy Round Trip Using Your United Miles

United is a member of the Star Alliance, the largest of the 3 airline alliances including a vast network throughout Europe.

However, United has moved to dynamic pricing for United and partner-operated flights. Prices fluctuate based on a variety of factors like demand and seasonality.

Using United miles will generally cost 30,000 miles per person for economy class, 60,000 miles for business class flights on United metal, and 70,000 miles for flights on Star Alliance partners. You can also find awards that price out higher than this.

United Airlines Award Chart
A screenshot of the old United Award Chart. Dynamic Pricing fluctuates around these numbers.

While United might be one of the more expensive options for business class flights, they do offer the Excursionist Perk, which lets you add a free one-way segment to United award itineraries.

Another upside is using United miles is straightforward and easier for many people, compared to the other ways to use miles and points for Italy on this list.

How to Earn United Miles

When it comes to United miles, they’re only transfer partners with Chase Ultimate Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy

These flexible travel rewards can be earned with cards like:

United also has co-branded credit cards with which to earn United miles. These are:

Travel Portals: The Best Way to Fly to Italy??

The last option we should talk about is the travel portals, and most importantly the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal. There are times when flights to Europe are affordable and you can find a great deal to fly to Italy for cheap on a cash fare. 

Couple a cheap cash fare with the Chase Sapphire Reserve increased point redemption at 1.5 cents per point and you have a recipe to save you points!

For example, you could fly LAX to FCO nonstop (Los Angeles to Rome) for only 46,000 Ultimate Rewards points. 

Ultimate Reward Portal cost to Italy

Not only is this saving you points compared to transferring to an airline partner, but you won’t pay any taxes and fees. 

Using the travel portal won’t always result in better pricing, but you should certainly research portal pricing before transferring your points to any airline partner. 

How to Earn Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

You can earn Ultimate Rewards with a range of different credit cards. One of the great things about earning Ultimate Rewards points among different Chase credit cards is that you can combine your points into one balance.

For a 1.5 cent-per-point value, consider the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

You can combine Ultimate Rewards points earned from the following cards with your Sapphire Reserve points.

Italy on Points and Miles Bottom Line

If visiting Italy is on your bucket list, these are some of the best ways to fly to Italy using your points and miles.

But now that you have the info you need, the real question is, when are you finally going to book that award ticket to Italy?!

How will you use your miles and points to get to Italy?

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How to Fly to Italy with Miles and Points

4 thoughts on “How to Fly to Italy with Miles and Points”

  1. MIchael R Karpiel

    Dustin – I guess we did pretty well as in June 0f 2018 I booked an award trip via Delta as follows for my wife and I. I’ve checked since and the DL non-stop FCO/ATL is never showing anymore under 300K each one way:

    MLB/ATL – Delta F Class Mar 30 2019
    ATL/LHR – Virgin Upper Class Mar 30 2019

    FCO/ATL – Delta DeltaOne Apr 17, 2019
    ATL/MLB – Delta F Class Apr 17, 2019

    Rate was 75K for the MLB/LHR and 86K for FCO/MLB for 161K SkyMiles each person plus $77.81 taxes and fees each. Total for both 322K SkyMiles and $155.62 taxes and fees. At the time of booking the cash price for the same itinerary was $7675 (for 2) and of course about 1 month prior to travel it was around $16.6K (for 2).

    We did 5 nights in LON, 4 in PAR and then 3 in FLR and 2 in Via Reggio and 3 in ROM. Booked trains for the travel in Europe. To me the train is the only way to go between major cities in Europe so agree with your suggestion.

    Also I wanted to mention that you might be able to book Delta via Virgin Atlantic miles with their fixed rate redemption’s vs. the Dynamic on DL. Also of course DL has had some very interesting SkyMiles Deals that they publish on a regular basis.

    I also need to always remember AeroPlan as an option since I took advantage of a transfer bonus from Bonvoy to Aeroplan last month with a 35% bonus in addition to the 60K Bonvoy –> 25K Aeroplan. Basically transferred 300K Bonvoy and received 168,750 Aeroplan miles..

    1. Hey Michael,

      It looks like you got yourself a good deal! Great job separating the itinerary to get a better deal.

      Good point on Virgin Atlantic, it can also be a really good option.

      I don’t think you are alone in forgetting about Aeroplan. It’s a really good program, but often overlooked.

      Thanks for reading!
      Dustin

  2. We went LAX-MXP last March on SkyMiles for only 32k miles RT. I have never seen it so low. We had to drive a little (LAX is not our home airport) to save a lot. LAS departures were 2x the miles. One Utah airport would have cost 190k miles!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Joseph. It pays to be flexible, especially to snag a Delta flash sale deal like that. Congrats!

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