Air Italy A330 Business Class Awards are quite new, since the airline itself is the old Meridiana, rebranded March 1, 2018 as Air Italy after Qatar Airways took a 49% ownership stake in late 2017. You can redeem British Airways Avios for Air Italy Business Class between New York JFK and Milan, and while it's not cheap at 75,000 Avios, with the current 40% AMEX to British Airways Avios transfer bonus, that's 54,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points, so not bad, although there are taxes/fees of ~$170 for JFK-MXP, and ~$215 for MXP-JFK.
Air Italy A330 Business Class Product
Since Air Italy is using Qatar A330-200 for the long haul flights between NYC and Milan, and Qatar has influenced other aspects of the offering, the Air Italy business class product is quite good. There is a slight angle to the seat in bed mode, similar to what you find in Emirates Business Class, but it's closer to flat bed than most “angled flat” business class. The crew even provides turndown service, and gives you a thin quilt to place on top of the seat, in addition to the duvet to use as a blanket and a pillow (most airline business class products only offer a duvet and pillow, with the notable exception of JAL Business Class, where an actual thick mattress pad is provided).
You also receive pajamas (a true rarity for business class), slippers, and a nicer amenity kit, with Acca Kappa products, than is usually given in trans-Atlantic business class.
Air Italy Business Class Award Pros
- 54,000 AMEX points (with the current 40% transfer bonus to Avios) is better than many one way business class awards, such as 70K for United MileagePlus partner awards or even the 60K on United metal, lower than the 65K Singapore KrisFlyer charges for Star Alliance one way awards between North America and Europe, as well as a hair lower than Aeroplan, which charges 55,000 miles one way to Europe.
- It's a solid business product, if you can deal with the very slight angle of the seats.
- Milan MXP is perfect for those traveling to Italy and Switzerland, given the many high speed trains, and is a reasonable gateway to much of Europe, with many flights to other European cities.
- There's good award availability for Air Italy Business Class when booking far in advance. A number of days have 4 award seats available, enough for a family to all fly together–hard for many business class awards to Europe.
Air Italy Business Class Award Cons
- It's not the lowest business class award to Europe; if you can find award availability, JFK-Madrid using Avios is just 50,000 points. If you can find availability for both outbound and return, a roundtrip award on a Star Alliance airline is just 88,000 ANA miles roundtrip.
- The 2-2-2 seating configuration is best for couples. Solo travelers may prefer 2E or 2F, with direct aisle access, to avoid a window seatmate climbing over you for access to the aisle.
- While United MileagePlus awards have low taxes/fees, Air Italy Business Class awards using Avios have ~$170-$215 in taxes/fees on the NYC-Milan route.
- AMEX Membership Rewards points (which are the ones that transfer with the current 40% bonus) aren't as easy to earn for most people, as Chase Ultimate Rewards points, since there are fewer opportunities for 3X-5X category bonuses.
- You can't select Air Italy business class seats online for an award booking; you have to call Customer Service
- Air Italy only flies to New York JFK and Miami MIA in the U.S.; other destinations served from Milan MXP include Accra, Bangkok, Cairo, Catania, Dakar, Delhi, Lagos, Lamezia Terme, Mumbai, Naples, Olbia, Palermo, Rome, Sharm el-Sheikh, so there are limited use cases for most U.S.-based flyers.
If you've flown Air Italy Business Class, what was your experience?
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