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.
Table of contents
- Best Programs to Use to Book Flights
- Japan Airlines (JAL) Mileage Bank
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- Korean Air SKYPASS
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- Etihad Guest
- Final Thoughts
Table of Contents
- Best Programs to Use to Book Flights
- Japan Airlines (JAL) Mileage Bank
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- Korean Air SKYPASS
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- Etihad Guest
- Final Thoughts
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
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)||Economy||Business Class||First Class|
|4||10,001 – 12,000||60,000||110,000||160,000|
|5||12,001 – 14,000||70,000||115,000||165,000|
|6||14,001 – 20,000||90,000||120,000||170,000|
|7||20,001 – 25,000||120,000||150,000||230,000|
|8||25,001 – 29,000||140,000||190,000||280,000|
|9||29,001 – 34,000||150,000||200,000||300,000|
|10||34,001 – 50,000||160,000||220,000||330,000|
|Total Trip Distance (Miles)||Economy||Premium Economy||Business Class||First 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:
|Partner||Cabin Class||Miles||Taxes 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™ Card - earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 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 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.|
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
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 Class||Asia Miles Required by Distance Zone (One-Way)|
|Ultra-Short||Short||Medium||Long-Type 1||Long-Type 2||Ultra-Long|
|1-750 miles||751-2,750 miles||2,751-5,000 miles||5,001-7,500 miles||5,001-7,500 miles||7,501+ miles|
Oneworld Multi-Carrier Award Chart
|Award Zone||Distance in actual miles||Required Miles|
|Economy||Business Class||First Class|
|2||1,001 – 1,500||30,000||60,000||80,000|
|3||1,501 – 2,000||35,000||65,000||90,000|
|4||2,001 – 4,000||35,000||70,000||95,000|
|5||4,001 – 7,500||60,000||90,000||140,000|
|6||7,501 – 9,000||65,000||100,000||150,000|
|7||9,001 – 10,000||70,000||110,000||160,000|
|8||10,001 – 14,000||90,000||135,000||220,000|
|9||14,001 – 18,000||100,000||155,000||250,000|
|10||18,001 – 20,000||105,000||165,000||260,000|
|11||20,001 – 25,000||115,000||185,000||280,000|
|12||25,001 – 35,000||130,000||210,000||300,000|
|13||35,001 – 50,000||150,000||240,000||345,000|
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 Class||Oneworld||Taxes and Fees|
*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. This is our favorite card for getting into 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide (including Priority Pass) and we get about $1,500+ in value from the card every year. |
Plus, get 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 fees). 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 $2,000 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 - Even though this card carries a hefty annual fee, we get ~$1,250+ in value per year by leveraging as many of the benefits/perks card. |
Get access to 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide, $200 in airline fee credits for incidentals (e.g. baggage fees) and a lot more. Also, earn a welcome bonus of up to 75,000 points (terms apply). 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 real simple card that earns you 2x points on business purchases up to $50,000 annually (then 1x). There's no annual fee. For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus, click here.|
Korean Air SKYPASS
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
|Route||Economy||Business Class||First Class|
|North America – North America||25,000||45,000||45,000|
|North America – Central America||35,000||75,000||75,000|
|North America – South America||50,000||110,000||110,000|
|North America – Europe||50,000||80,000||100,000|
|North America – Middle East, Africa||80,000||120,000||160,000|
|North America – Asia 1||80,000||140,000||180,000|
|North America – Asia 2||90,000||155,000||200,000|
|North America – Asia 3||100,000||170,000||230,000|
|North America – Oceania||110,000||185,000||260,000|
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|
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.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
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
|Route||Delta Main Cabin||Taxes and Fees||Business / First||Taxes and Fees|
|U.S. to Europe||60,000||$54+||100,000||$54+|
|Route (to/from UK)||Delta Main Cabin||Taxes and Fees||Delta One||Taxes and Fees|
|US East Coast (BOS, JFK,PHL)||20,000||$526||90,000||$1,288|
|US Central (ATL,DTW, MSP)||25,000||$526||95,000||$1,288|
|US West Coast (PDX,SLC)||30,000||$526||135,000||$1,288|
|Standard season travel dates: April 17 to June 21, 2018, and September 7 to December 12, 2019.|
|Air New Zealand Round-Trip|
|Route||Economy||Taxes and Fees||Business Class||Taxes and Fees|
|Los Angeles – London||50,000||$349||155,000||$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 Class||Air New Zealand and Delta||Taxes 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
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 #1 favorite starter travel card which has a 60,000 point sign up bonus (highest ever) after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. |
The current bonus is literally worth $750 in travel purchases (e.g. flights, hotels, car rentals and with no blackout dates) when you redeem your points through Chase's travel portal, which works similar to booking sites like Expedia etc. You could buy several round-trip flights or hotel stays with that 60k bonus.
|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 $450 annual fee.|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited® - A simple, no annual fee card that earns you 1.5% cash back 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 80,000 bonus is worth $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards for travel purchases (e.g flights, hotels, car rentals). Earn lots of points by leveraging bonus categories, and also - if you pay for your cell phone bill with this card, you can get up to $600 in insurance coverage.|
|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. A simple, $0 annual fee card.|
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|
|Economy Off-Peak||Economy Peak||Business Class||First Class|
|Economy Off-Peak: May 15 to October 15.|
|Brussels Airlines Round-Trip|
|New York (JFK)||Brussels||54,000||88,000|
|Brussels Airlines Round-Trip|
|Royal Air Maroc One-Way|
|Distance Travelled||Economy||Business Class|
|2,001 and above||22,000||44,000|
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 Class||American Airlines*||Taxes and Fees|
*Non-stop only flights
|Cabin Class||Brussels Airlines**||Taxes and Fees|
**Requires 2 separate award flights
|Cabin Class||Royal 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.
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.