The Best Ways to Fly to Italy With Points and Miles

Emirates Business Class Seat

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Italy is a country with a combination of incredible food, welcoming people, and amazing sights to see. The country’s capital, Rome, is known for the Vatican, Florence is home Michelangelo’s “David,” Venice has its canals, and Milan is Italy’s fashion capital. In addition to these cities, Cinque Terre, the Italian Alps, Tuscany, Naples, the Amalfi Coast, and Sicily can’t be missed.

As with any popular destination, flights to Italy during certain times of the year can be expensive. The key is to use Google Flights to find when flight costs are low or use your points and miles to get there on the mega cheap!

Here are the best programs you can use to book award flights to Italy, how to book an award flight, and how to earn enough miles for your next redemption.

Best Programs to Use to Book Flights

It’s important to note that award space in premium cabins on certain routes to Italy can be tough to find. Typically, you’ll want to search either close-in (meaning close to the date of travel) or far out in the award calendar (10-11 months ahead of travel).

Below you’ll find a number of programs that you can use to book an award flight. We’ll cover Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Korean Air, Virgin Atlantic, and Etihad.

Japan Airlines (JAL) Mileage Bank 

Emirates A380 Business Class - Snack
Emirates A380 Business Class. Image Credit: Cherag Dubash

The Japan Airlines Mileage Bank program offers a few options for flights from the U.S. to Italy. The airline is a member of the Oneworld alliance. This means that you can use Japan Airlines miles to fly a Oneworld airline partner to Italy. Japan Airlines also partners with Emirates, an airline that offers flights from the U.S. to Italy and Europe.

Book Awards With JAL


Total Trip Distance (Miles)EconomyBusiness Class First Class
410,001 – 12,00060,000110,000160,000
512,001 – 14,00070,000115,000165,000
614,001 – 20,00090,000120,000170,000
720,001 – 25,000120,000150,000230,000
825,001 – 29,000140,000190,000280,000
929,001 – 34,000150,000200,000300,000
1034,001 – 50,000160,000220,000330,000


Total Trip Distance (Miles)EconomyPremium EconomyBusiness ClassFirst Class

Japan Airlines uses a distance-based award chart. The program’s search engine has improved recently, however, you’ll still want to leverage other Oneworld partner websites to search for flights. The Japan Airlines partner award chart determines the mileage required based on the distance of the total award itinerary of each segment and the cabin class.

Use the British Airways or Qantas websites to search for Oneworld award flights, confirming that same availability on the Japan Airlines website, and then booking the flight. If you’re unable to confirm availability on the Japan Airlines website, you can call the airline at 800-525-3663.

Here are the redemption rates and an estimate of the taxes and fees for both Oneworld and Emirates round-trip flights to Italy:

PartnerCabin ClassMilesTaxes and Fees

Hot Tip:  Need help booking this award? Here’s a step-by-step guide to booking Emirates business class.

Here are some examples of flights that you can book with Japan Airlines miles:

  • New York (JFK) to Milan (MXP) — Emirates
  • Philadelphia (PHL) to Rome (FCO) — American Airlines
  • Chicago (ORD) to Venice (VCE) — American Airlines (seasonal)

Earning JAL Miles

While not impossible, Japan Airlines miles are difficult to earn. Many airline programs have either co-branded credit cards with sizable sign-up bonuses or multiple transferable point program partners. JAL lacks in both areas.

The main way in the U.S. to earn Japan Airlines miles is by transferring Marriott points to Japan Airlines. For every 60,000 Marriott points that you transfer, you’ll receive 5,000 bonus miles.

For example, 60,000 Marriott points becomes 25,000 Japan Airlines miles. Before transferring Marriott points, keep in mind that points transfer at a 3:1 ratio and can take 7 days to transfer.

Recommended Marriott Cards

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card - Earn 100,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Get automatic silver elite status each account anniversary year; and a free night award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card - Limited Time Offer: Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. Earn 3X points per $1 at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. A solid card for Marriott loyalisty looking for a no-annual-fee card offering Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status.
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card - earn 75,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. A solid card for business owners who will get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy silver elite status. Annual fee is $125. For rates and fees of the Bonvoy Business Card, click here.

Bottom Line: Even after Japan Airlines’ November 2018 devaluation, the Mileage Bank program has value. Competitive award prices for Oneworld economy and business class flights makes this a program to keep in mind for flights to Italy. 

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles 

AA 777 Business Class
Use Cathay Pacific miles to fly American Airlines business class to Italy. Image credit: American Airlines

Cathay Pacific is another Oneworld member airline with redemption opportunities to Italy. The Asia Miles program uses a distance-based award chart when flying Cathay Pacific/Cathay Dragon or its Oneworld airline partners.

Book Awards With Cathay Pacific

Asia Miles Standard Award

Cabin ClassAsia Miles Required by Distance Zone (One-Way)
Ultra-ShortShortMediumLong-Type 1Long-Type 2Ultra-Long
1-750 miles751-2,750 miles2,751-5,000 miles5,001-7,500 miles5,001-7,500 miles7,501+ miles
Premium Economy11,00018,00030,00040,00045,00060,000

Oneworld Multi-Carrier Award Chart

Award ZoneDistance in actual milesRequired Miles
EconomyBusiness ClassFirst Class
21,001 – 1,50030,00060,00080,000
31,501 – 2,00035,00065,00090,000
42,001 – 4,00035,00070,00095,000
54,001 – 7,50060,00090,000140,000
67,501 – 9,00065,000100,000150,000
79,001 – 10,00070,000110,000160,000
810,001 – 14,00090,000135,000220,000
914,001 – 18,000100,000155,000250,000
1018,001 – 20,000105,000165,000260,000
1120,001 – 25,000115,000185,000280,000
1225,001 – 35,000130,000210,000300,000
1335,001 – 50,000150,000240,000345,000

For Oneworld flights to Europe, Cathay Pacific uses distance-based award charts. If you’re flying a Oneworld partner to Italy, you’ll add 5,000 miles to the Asia Miles Standard Award Chart rate. If you’re flying 2 Oneworld airline partners to Italy, you’ll use the Oneworld Multi-Carrier Award Chart. The number of miles is determined by the distance and cabin class of your award flight.

Search for British Airways, Finnair, and Iberia award availability on the British Airways or Qantas websites, confirm the same availability on the Cathay Pacific website, and then book the flight.

If you’re wanting to search for American Airlines’ flights, you’ll need to search for American Airlines award availability on the British Airways or Qantas websites, and then call Cathay Pacific at 866-892-2598 to confirm availability and book the flight.

Here are the redemption rates and an estimate of the taxes and fees for Oneworld round-trip flights to Italy:

Cabin ClassOneworld Taxes and Fees
Business Class90,000-140,000$55-$72
First Class150,000-220,000$885*

*First class only on transatlantic segment

Hot Tip: Need help booking this award? Here’s a fantastic step-by-step guide to booking American Airlines business class.

Here are some examples of Oneworld flights that you can book with Cathay Pacific Asia Miles:

  • New York (JFK) to Rome (FCO) — American
  • Los Angeles (LAX) to Helsinki (HEL) to Milan (MXP) — Finnair
  • Miami (MIA) to Madrid (MAD) to Milan (MXP) — Iberia
  • Charlotte (CLT) to London (LHR) to Venice (VCE) — British Airways

Earning Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

Earning Asia Miles is made easier by the fact that Cathay Pacific partners with 3 transferable point programs in American Express, Chase, and Marriott. Cathay Pacific also has a co-branded credit card that offers a solid sign-up bonus.

If you’re looking to transfer points from 1 of these programs, keep in mind the transfer ratios and transfer times. American Express points transfer instantly at a 1:1 ratio, Chase points transfer instantly at a 1:1 ratio, and Marriott point transfers take 24 hours at a 3:1 ratio.

With that said, Amex and Chase points are more valuable since they transfer at a 1:1 ratio.

Recommended Amex Cards (Personal)

The Platinum Card® from American Express - There's currently a welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $5,000 in your first 3 months, worth at least $600.

This is our favorite card for getting into 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide (including Priority Pass) and we get about $2,700+ in value from the card every year.

The card can get you up to $200 in Uber credits annually ($15 per month and a $20 bonus in December) — and up to $200 in annual credit for airline incidental charges (e.g. baggage or seat selection fees). There's even a $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit, annually. For rates and fees of the Platinum Card, click here.
American Express® Gold Card - We love using this card as it earns 4x points at restaurants worldwide and 4x points at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x). There's no better card in our opinion if you eat out and/or shop at supermarkets regularly.

With a welcome bonus of 35,000 points after you spend $4,000 in your first 3 months and a $100 airfare credit per year, for many this is an easy addition to your wallet. For rates and fees of the Gold Card, click here.

Recommended Amex Cards (Business)

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express - Right now, there's a welcome bonus of up to 75,000 points. Earn 50,000 points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 after you spend an additional $10,000, on purchases within the first 3 months.

We get ~$5,525+ in value per year by leveraging many of the benefits & perks.

This is the best business card for lounge access as you'll get into 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide. For rates and fees of the Business Platinum, click here.
American Express® Business Gold Card - probably our favorite Amex business card because we earn 4x points across the top 2 select categories that we spend the most money in each month. The 4x points applies to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year. This means you'll max out at a (whopping) 600,000 points per year. After that, you earn 1x. For rates and fees of the Business Gold Card, click here.
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express - This is a simple card that earns you 2x points on any business purchase, up to $50,000 annually (then 1x). That makes for an easy 100,000 points per year! The card has no annual fee. For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus, click here.

Bottom Line: The Cathay Pacific Asia Miles program has a ton of moving parts. With its many award charts and the challenge of booking airline partners online, review the award charts and running award searches to familiarize yourself with the award pricing. 

Korean Air SKYPASS

air france J
Use Japan Airlines miles to fly Air France business class. Image Credit:

Korean Air’s SkyTeam airline partner award pricing for flights to Europe is one of the most competitive you’ll find. With Delta and Alitalia providing transatlantic flights, the SKYPASS program opens up value with your Korean Air miles.

Book Awards With Korean Air

RouteEconomyBusiness ClassFirst Class
North America – North America25,00045,00045,000
North America – Central America35,00075,00075,000
North America – South America50,000110,000110,000
North America – Europe50,00080,000100,000
North America – Middle East, Africa80,000120,000160,000
North America – Asia 180,000140,000180,000
North America – Asia 290,000155,000200,000
North America – Asia 3100,000170,000230,000
North America – Oceania110,000185,000260,000

Korean Air uses a zone-based award chart for its SkyTeam partner airline flights. This means that all SkyTeam flights between North America and Europe, regardless of the departing U.S. city, will require the same number of Korean Air miles.

For example, Delta flights between Atlanta (ATL) and Amsterdam (AMS) or Detroit (DTW) and Rome (FCO) will cost you the same number of miles.

Search for SkyTeam partner airline flights on the Delta or Flying Blue (Air France or KLM) websites. When you find a flight that works, confirm the same award availability on the Korean Air website, and then book the flight. Another option is to locate award availability via the Delta or Flying Blue websites, and then call Korean Air at 800-438-5000 to book the flight.

Here are the redemption rates and an estimate of the taxes and fees for round-trip SkyTeam flights to Italy:

Cabin Class SkyTeam Taxes and Fees
Business Class80,000~$461+

Hot Tip: Need help booking this award? Here’s our step-by-step guide to booking Delta business class.

If you’re looking to book a trip to Italy, below are some examples of SkyTeam flights to Italy that you can book with Korean Air miles:

  • Miami (MIA) to Madrid (MAD) to Milan (MXP) — Air Europa
  • Washington (IAD) to Paris (CDG) to Venice (VCE) — Air France
  • Detroit (DTW) to Rome (FCO) — Delta
  • Chicago (ORD) to Amsterdam (AMS) to Milan (MXP) — KLM

Earning Korean Air Miles

Korean Air has 1 transferable point partner in Marriott Bonvoy. In addition, Korean Air offers a co-branded credit card with a material sign-up bonus. For those looking to transfer Marriott points to Korean Air, the transfer time takes 7 days at a 3:1 ratio.

Bottom Line: Redemptions with the Korean Air SKYPASS program were made more challenging with the elimination of Chase as a transfer partner. As such, Marriott Bonvoy points are the primary way to earn points that can be transferred to Korean Air for an award flight. 

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Delta One Suites A350-900
Delta One Suites A350-900. Image Credit: Stephen Au

Virgin Atlantic is a niche program that can be utilized for flights to Italy. Virgin Atlantic is not in an airline alliance and instead has individual partnerships with airlines. What’s great about this is that you can sometimes find out-sized value that you won’t find in an airline that’s a member of 1 of the 3 major airline alliances.

Book Awards With Virgin Atlantic

Delta Round-Trip
RouteDelta Main CabinTaxes and FeesBusiness / FirstTaxes and Fees
U.S. to Europe60,000$54+100,000$54+


Delta Round-Trip
Route (to/from UK)Delta Main CabinTaxes and FeesDelta OneTaxes and Fees
US East Coast (BOS, JFK,PHL)20,000$52690,000$1,288
US Central (ATL,DTW, MSP)25,000$52695,000$1,288
US West Coast (PDX,SLC)30,000$526135,000$1,288
Standard season travel dates: April 17 to June 21, 2018, and September 7 to December 12, 2019.


Air New Zealand Round-Trip
RouteEconomyTaxes and FeesBusiness ClassTaxes and Fees
Los Angeles – London50,000$349155,000$349

You’ll use a zone-based award chart when flying Delta or Air New Zealand with Virgin Atlantic miles. For Delta flights, the closer to Europe from the U.S. that you fly from, the fewer miles you’ll need. Air New Zealand only flies 1 route, so the amount of miles is either 55,000 for economy or 155,000 for business class.

Search for Delta flights on the Virgin Atlantic website, and then book the flight. If you’re not able to book the flight online, call Virgin Atlantic at 800-365-9500 to book the flight. You’ll use the United website to search for Air New Zealand flights. When you find a flight that works, call Virgin Atlantic to book the flight.

Here are the redemption rates and an estimate of the taxes and fees for round-trip Air New Zealand and Delta flights to Italy:

Cabin ClassAir New Zealand and DeltaTaxes and Fees


Hot Tip: Redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles to fly on Delta will work best if you’re flying non-stop. If your itinerary requires a connecting flight or stopover, you will be charged additional miles for each segment.

Earning Virgin Atlantic Miles

Virgin Atlantic partners with 4 transferable point programs in American Express, Citi, Chase, and Marriott. The airline also has a co-branded credit card with a decent sign-up bonus.

For those wanting to transfer points from Amex, Citi, Chase, and/or Marriott, it’s important to know the transfer times and ratios.

American Express points transfer in 1-2 days at a 1:1 ratio, Chase points transfer instantly at a 1:1 ratio, Citi points transfer in 2 days at a 1:1 ratio, and Marriott point transfers take 24 hours at a 3:1 ratio.

In short, Chase tends to get you the most value given the 1:1 ratio. Here are some Chase cards that earn transferrable miles:

Recommended Chase Cards (Personal)

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card - This is our favorite beginners travel rewards card which has a 60,000 point bonus (highest ever) after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

This sign up bonus is worth $750 in travel purchases (flights, hotels, car rentals etc) when you redeem your points through Chase's travel portal, which works like Expedia. The bonus alone could get you multiple round-trip flights or hotel stays.
Chase Sapphire Reserve® - Consider this premium card if you want to get into a lot of airport lounges. The current sign up bonus is 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. You'll also get a $300 travel credit per year which wipes away a big chunk of the $550 annual fee.
Chase Freedom Unlimited® - A simple, no annual fee card that earns you a $150 bonus after you spend $500 in your first 3 months. Easy earning at 1.5% on all purchases. Just know that you won't get any travel benefits or the ability to earn bonus points with this card.

Recommended Chase Cards (Business)

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card - This is our #1 recommended business card and comes with a whopping 80,000 sign up bonus after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. This bonus is worth $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards for travel purchases (flights, hotels etc). Also, if you pay for your cell phone bill with this card, you can get up to $600 in cell phone insurance coverage per year.
Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card - earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. In addition, get up to 5% cash back on a range of business expenses such as office supply stores, internet, cable, and phone services. This is one of the best no annual fee business cards.

Bottom Line: Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles are easy to earn. By partnering with 4 programs and having credit cards that earn Virgin Atlantic miles with your credit card spend, you’ll have more than enough miles for your next award flight. 

Etihad Guest

The Etihad Guest program is one that you can use if you’re looking to fly select airline partners to Italy. Etihad is not a member of an airline alliance.  Instead, it has individual partnerships similar to Virgin Atlantic. With that said, you can use Etihad miles to book award flights on American Airlines, Brussels Airlines, and Royal Air Maroc.

Book Awards With Etihad Guest

American Airlines Round-Trip
RegionNorth America
Economy Off-PeakEconomy PeakBusiness ClassFirst Class
Economy Off-Peak: May 15 to October 15.


Brussels Airlines Round-Trip
New York (JFK)Brussels54,00088,000
Toronto (YYZ)Brussels54,00088,000
Washington (IAD)Brussels54,00088,000


Brussels Airlines Round-Trip
OriginDestinationEconomyBusiness Class
BrusselsMilan (MXP)10,00018,000
BrusselsRome (FCO)14,00024,000
BrusselsVenice (VCE)14,00024,000


Royal Air Maroc One-Way
Distance TravelledEconomyBusiness Class
2,001 and above22,00044,000

Etihad uses a zone-based award chart for American Airlines and Brussels Airlines and a distance-based award for Royal Air Maroc. The Etihad website doesn’t allow you to book these partner flights online, so you’ll need to find space elsewhere and then call Etihad Guest at +1-0-877-690-0767 to book the flight.

Use the British Airways or Qantas websites to search for American Airlines award flights. Brussels Airlines flights can be found by searching on the United website. For those looking to fly Royal Air Maroc, search for flights using Expert Flyer or call Etihad Guest to search for the award flight.

The taxes and fees should be close to those shown in the chart below, but confirm with Etihad Guest over the phone.

Cabin ClassAmerican Airlines*Taxes and Fees

*Non-stop only flights

Cabin ClassBrussels Airlines**Taxes and Fees

**Requires 2 separate award flights

Cabin ClassRoyal Air Maroc Taxes and Fees

Hot Tip: Etihad is a program to use if you’re familiar with booking award flights. The inability to search for and book award flights on the Etihad website makes redeeming award flights with its airline partners more challenging. 

Here are some examples of flights that you can book with Etihad Guest miles:

  • Philadelphia (PHL) to Rome (FCO) — American
  • New York (JFK) to Brussels (BRU) to Milan (MXP) — Brussels Airlines
  • Washington (IAD) to Casablanca (CMN) to Venice (VCE) — Royal Air Maroc

Earning Etihad Guest Miles

Etihad makes it relatively easy to earn its miles by partnering with 4 transferable point programs in American Express, Capital One, Citi, and Marriott. The airline doesn’t offer a credit card for the U.S. market, so earning points that can be transferred directly to Etihad is the best way to earn Etihad miles.

For those looking to transfer points to Etihad, it’s helpful to know the transfer times and transfer ratios. American Express points transfer instantly at a 1:1 ratio, Capital One points transfers take 36 hours at a 2:1.5 ratio, Citi point transfers take 6 days at a 1:1 ratio, and Marriott point transfers take 5 days at a 3:1 ratio.

We recommend transferring American Express points first for your next award flight.

Bottom Line: Etihad is an under-the-radar program providing value if you know where to look. Its partnerships with American Airlines, Brussels Airlines, and Royal Air Maroc are great to leverage if you’re looking to fly from the U.S. to Europe. 

Final Thoughts

Italy is a country that has a rich history and offers tons of diverse experiences. From the mountainous regions in the north to the vineyards in Tuscany to the beautiful coastal cities in the south — Italy has it all!

The key to getting to experience the country is knowing how best to leverage your points and miles with the programs that offer the best redemptions. With several programs at your disposal, you have more than enough ways to fly in a cabin class that makes sense for you.

What may be noticeably absent from this article is the ability to fly on an award ticket from the U.S. to Europe, and then buy a ticket on a low-cost carrier from that city to Italy. This is certainly an option too — and one that we recommend if you don’t mind a connection and spending a small amount of cash on a cheap flight.

Frequently asked questions

Which airlines include carrier-imposed surcharges on award flights to Italy?

Emirates, American Airlines, Delta, and Alitalia all impose some form of surcharges on flights to Italy.

What is the fewest number of miles you can use to book an economy class award flight to Italy?

Japan Airlines and Etihad require the fewest number of miles to fly economy, at 39,000-40,000 miles round-trip.

What is the fewest number of miles required to fly business class to Italy?

Japan Airlines requires the fewest number of miles to fly business class, at 63,000-80,000 round-trip.

What is the fewest number miles required to fly first class to Italy?

JAL requires the fewest number of miles to fly first class, at 100,000-120,000 miles round-trip. The route is between New York and Milan on Emirates.

Michael McHugh

About Michael McHugh

Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Michael took his first international trip in 2013 with friends to the Bahamas. Although he didn't travel much in his younger years, on that trip, he caught the travel bug and has been hooked ever since. Michael first caught wind of the points and miles game in 2014 while at a bar in Washington, DC where the conversation amongst friends was quickly derailed because of an alert on a friend's phone about a mistake fare.  That's where the love affair with points and miles began.

Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.


  1. I looked on Delta’s website & it doesn’t show availability nor options for LAX-FCO direct on Alitalia. It is also showing 280k miles just one way on Delta with stops in DTW. How would I check availability & how many miles it’d be to fly direct LAX-FCO?


    • Michael McHugh August 15, 2018

      Hi Aleks

      Delta or Flying Blue (KLM / Air France) will be the best sites to use to check SkyTeam availability.

      Korean Air charges 50k RT in economy and 80k RT in business class for SkyTeam (Delta, Alitalia) flights to Europe.


  2. Arlyne Feintuch December 1, 2019

    I have approx 14,000 miles on Delta but over 180,000 points to transfer from my Chase Sapphire credit card. Which is the best airline to book 3 coach tickets for next September?


  3. Headed to Florence in October from the North East USA –

    I have tons of Amex Points – I want to use them to cover the flights

    Two questions:

    1. What is the best city to fly into (I don’t like connections)

    2. If you could chose your favorite airline to fly first class, which would you pick? And – Is there a path from Amex points to that airline?


    • Rich,

      1. For nonstop flights, Rome is the easiest city to fly into, followed by Milan.

      2. First class doesn’t exist on flights to Italy with the exception of New York City (JFK) – Milan (MXP) on Emirates first class.

      I’d recommend you start your search early.

      However, if you feel like you’d get value from an ultra-personalized points wealth management and travel concierge to to truly optimize your points and miles, please feel free to contact me directly at to inquire about a monthly subscription service.


Any thoughts or questions? Comment below!

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