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Best Way to Use Points for Tix from US to Italy [Consolidated]

Best Way to Use Points for Tix from US to Italy [Consolidated]

Old Nov 23, 07, 3:26 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Nov 2007
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Best Way to Use Points for Tix from US to Italy [Consolidated]

Hi Everyone,
I'm new to this forum, but it seems it would be a good place to find out the best options for a trip to Italy in June. I have approx 200,000 Amex points. We're a family of 5, and I know this is travelling during peak time, but I was hoping it would get us 2 round trip tickets. Are we better off booking through American Express, or would it be best to go directly thru Alitalia? Alitalia has a route from Newark (EWR) to Venice, and then returning we'd leave from Rome flying back to Newark.
Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance for your help!
Afam
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Old Nov 23, 07, 3:49 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Programs: Delta Skymiles
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My advice:

Book it through your regular travel agent if you have a good one, and let them tell you how many points to transfer.

I used Amex's Centurion travel agents for my last trip to Maui to see how they operated, and was disappointed.

They weren't "bad", but my regular agent (a buddy) is MUCH better at it than the 3 agents at Amex (that's how many I went through) were.

He's been at it for 20 years, and is far more experienced and knowledgeable about the travel industry than what Amex hires.
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Old Nov 23, 07, 10:22 pm
  #3  
cwc
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
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Use continential airline reward search online (Alitalia is part of skyteam). We are flying on Alitalia from FCO to SFO this Dec in J pay for by MR -> CO You can transfer MR to CO when you make the award reservation transaction, so guarantee your seats
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Old Nov 24, 07, 9:06 am
  #4  
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Search both Continental and Delta. CO will put you on their metal to FCO/MXP and then AZ metal to VCE by default. You can also connect at CDG and fly AF to VCE. Delta has non-stop flights to both VCE and FCO from JFK, and "connecting" to a car service may be easier and less time that the real connection in Europe. And then consider AF and KL as partners, along with NW. Even VS will get you to LHR from which you can connect down to VCE if you want. All of them can get you to Europe and then connect you down to VCE. It is absolutely peak season, and finding seats may ot be easy, but you may be able to find them with some effort. If you want everyone to fly on the same planes - some free and some paid - it may be even harder as some of the more circuitous routings will not be very cost-effective on the paid seats.

You don't mention if you want to fly in J or Y, but right now I see at least one outbound seat in Y JFK-CDG-VCE on AF for June 10th via the CO site. There appears to be a J seat as well, but I'm guessing that is just J intra-Europe, which is a waste of miles. There are not a lot of seats, but there are some, so you might be able to make it work.

I agree with the above sentiment that using the AX travel agents to plan everything isn't particularly a great plan, but I also don't use TAs at all, and don't have a need for them for the most part, especially in places as easy to negotiate as northern Italy.
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Old Nov 24, 07, 5:19 pm
  #5  
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Thank you all for your comments and advice - I appreciate your replies!
Afam
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Old Mar 14, 08, 11:49 am
  #6  
 
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Best way to use MR for travel to Italy?

Hello,

I have not participated on this board in a few years. Raising children, working on my own business and supporting my wife in her's has limited my travel a great deal in the last few years.

However, my sister (husband, two kids) are living about 20 minutes outside of Rome until next March, and I would like advice on making the most of my MR points on planning a trip to visit them. My kids are 8 and 3, and I have never travelled internationally with them, so any input would be great.

I currently have a little over 200k MR points, 77k Starpoints, 30k miles on Northwest, 30k miles on US Air, and a smattering of other points spread out amongst other airlines. (I think I have like 20k on AA, but I may have used them for something already.)

I have no real airline preference, but US Air and Southwest are the airlines I've been using the most since moving to PHX. I do not believe I currently have any airline status.

What airlines would you suggest? How much lead time to do I need to move points and book award tickets? And, what's the best way to get into Business Class or First Class seating without spending too much in additional money? And, what hotels would you suggest in Rome? (I believe my sister mentioned a Westin or Sheraton near where she lives.)

Thanks for any advice! (and if there might be a better place for me to ask these questions, please direct me to them.)
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Old Mar 14, 08, 1:50 pm
  #7  
 
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Originally Posted by NickyD View Post
Hello,

I currently have a little over 200k MR points, 77k Starpoints, 30k miles on Northwest, 30k miles on US Air, and a smattering of other points spread out amongst other airlines. (I think I have like 20k on AA, but I may have used them for something already.)

What airlines would you suggest? How much lead time to do I need to move points and book award tickets? And, what's the best way to get into Business Class or First Class seating without spending too much in additional money?
I would see where you can transfer your MR and Starwood points into the same airline. Some airlines will hold reservations even if your account doesn't have the miles (ie Delta), Air France on other hand will NOT allow you to search for an award ticket without the miles in your account.

I would first call various airline rewards lines and try to search for tickets for the dates you want...if you find something then I'd transfer the points over.

On a good day you can get 90k business class tickets. I just booked two BE tickets on Air France to Paris (with Delta miles) for a trip that was only 3 months away. Initially I received the "there's nothing available" response but some CS people will continue to dig for you.
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Old Mar 14, 08, 7:35 pm
  #8  
cwc
 
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I got two business award tickets on Altalia airline EWR to Rome last Christmas. I booked through CO and they will hold reservation for 1 week. The MR to CO transfer is instant. But since you only have 200K, that will only get you ONE business class SAVER award. Or use all your MR to get 4 award tickets in economic. I think that will save you a big chunk of money.

Best value for hotel is to use SPG point for hotel in any Europe city because Euro is so STRONG! A 100EU hotel + VAT & other fees, you will be paying 250$ per night for a small hotel that barely fit 2 people.
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Old Mar 14, 08, 11:08 pm
  #9  
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i did flights and hotels here >
http://flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?p=9412599
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Old Mar 14, 08, 11:34 pm
  #10  
Moderator: Delta SkyMiles, Luxury Hotels, TravelBuzz! and Italy
 
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My kids moved some miles around and snagged 4 award Biz Class Tickets from LAX/Rome on Swiss Airlines (LX). Think they got those awards with about 4 months lead time and it was for Spring Break Season. They leave the end of next week. Got the exact date they wanted.
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Old Mar 15, 08, 1:23 am
  #11  
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
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Thank you all for your advice. I'll definitely put it to use. I hadn't even considered Swiss Airlines until now.
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Old Mar 15, 08, 10:47 am
  #12  
 
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Just thought I'd correct some items in this post to avoid misinformation:

Originally Posted by cwc View Post
I got two business award tickets on Altalia airline EWR to Rome last Christmas. I booked through CO and they will hold reservation for 1 week. The MR to CO transfer is instant. But since you only have 200K, that will only get you ONE business class SAVER award. Or use all your MR to get 4 award tickets in economic. I think that will save you a big chunk of money.
First of all, a saver business class award on CO is 100K miles round trip, not 200K ("standard" award is 250K round trip). Secondly, a MUCH better way to use your MR points for a trip on Alitalia would be to transfer the points directly to the Alitalia MileMiglia program, for two reasons: (1) Alitalia only charges 80K for a saver business class award, and (2) given the choice, it's much more convenient to book directly with the operating airline as opposed to through SkyTeam when you're dealing with things like ticket changes, irregular ops, etc.

Best value for hotel is to use SPG point for hotel in any Europe city because Euro is so STRONG! A 100EU hotel + VAT & other fees, you will be paying 250$ per night for a small hotel that barely fit 2 people.
Not that this is too related to the OP, but while the euro is strong it still doesn't cost $2.50 (not yet, at least). VAT is included in European hotel rates, so you're really looking at more like $150-160 for a 100 euro hotel room. Good point though about SPG points being a great value in Europe right now. Too bad they're starting to go up in category now to match the exchange rate! I'd suggest looking for Cash & Points rates (the cash part is priced in USD) to really stretch your 77K points.
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Old Mar 15, 08, 12:03 pm
  #13  
cwc
 
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Sorry, my bad, don't mean to give out wrong info.

80K roundtrip per CO website . But I think the OP want 4 tickets, his/her 200K MR will only get 2 business at best.

The reason I recommand CO is because they can hold reservation for a week, and for the skyteam partner award you will need to call CO customer service to make reservation, they are US base CS people ...

As for the hotel room, VAT was not included in the rate for the hotel I stayed at and they are 10% on the bill when I checked out. I assume OP wants to keep the children in the same room (they are only 3&8!), most Europe hotels don't have children stay free policy and it will cost ~20-50$ per kid. So... 100EU + 40kids + 10% VAT + 1.5exchange rate =230$US (depend on if you are renting a car, parking will be another extra)

Yes, the cash+pt with SPG is the best value because you are paying US dollar vs EU. Have fun!
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Old Mar 17, 08, 5:48 pm
  #14  
LLM
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AF has a lot of award availability lately through Delta or NW. I got biz LAX-CDG-Morocco for 90K miles originally MR with less than two months notice. Have a booking for fall LAX-CDG-MAD with NW miles. Biz you have to hunt for but there is plenty of coach availability and 200K would get you four tix if there is the same availability through Delta. Haven't tried transferring directly to AF.
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Old Mar 17, 08, 8:18 pm
  #15  
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direct with AF might have even better avail, and is the only way to upgrade.

its unfortunate they dont allow you to check avail before transferring the miles.
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