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US to Italy business class

US to Italy business class

Old Apr 26, 19, 1:32 pm
  #1  
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US to Italy business class

First let me apologize if this is posted in the wrong forum or if something similar has been asked that I couldn’t find. My basic question – and will provide more info below – but what airlines should I be looking to try and fly to Italy from US for good business class.

I am taking my wife on a 10-year anniversary trip to Italy in 2021 (I know – I am early posting this) and wanted to work on at least some basic planning. My goal is to fly from Orlando (MCO) to likely FCO but open to other airports if it makes sense. We would like to fly business class (or possibly first) and use points (hence the early planning so I can earn enough points) and looking for your advice on what product to try and use. This will be my first international trip and while I have flown a ton domestically and experienced domestic US first and business class a number of times – I am excited to do something longer and experience lie-flat seats and all the other amenities that you get to experience on international first/business class – things I have never experienced. My goal is to fly the best product I can but my wife is going to force me to trade fewer stops for anything else.

So – if you were taking a trip in 2021 and looking for a one-stop from Orlando to FCO – what product would you target and why? I don’t need fancy food – would like something that her and I can be close enough to talk when we want to, have lie-flat (hopefully) or even some kind of suite, good entertainment options, and maybe a cool lounge experience during layover wherever that is. Anything else I should be thinking about?

Very much appreciate any responses!!!
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Old Apr 26, 19, 2:00 pm
  #2  
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Originally Posted by nelsoji View Post
<snip>
My goal is to fly from Orlando (MCO) to likely FCO but open to other airports if it makes sense. We would like to fly business class (or possibly first) and use points (hence the early planning so I can earn enough points) and looking for your advice on what product to try and use.

This will be my first international trip and while I have flown a ton domestically and experienced domestic US first and business class a number of times – I am excited to do something longer and experience lie-flat seats and all the other amenities that you get to experience on international first/business class – things I have never experienced.
<snip>
As you have only flown USA domestic first/bus a long haul international business class will be a big step up. What is domestic first on some (old) USA 2 class aircraft that would not pass as premium economy on better international long airlines/aircraft. First class is now not available on many airlines/aircraft/routes. And getting less.

Long haul business class awards are hard too get. 2 people on the same flight 4 times as hard (2 squared). Or harder. Need to be flexible with route & date. To "fly the best product" may not be possible. With business awards (x2) you immediately take what you find. 100's of others are wanting to do the same. Trains in Eu Italy will get you many places.

What ff miles do you have? Note UA will not have a published award chart from Nov 2019. (devaluation??)
Working backwards from Italy is one method. While wanting to do the trip in 2021 you can practice now to see what you can find.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orland...tional_Airport
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonar...micino_Airport

Great Circle Mapper
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Last edited by Mwenenzi; Apr 26, 19 at 2:08 pm
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Old Apr 26, 19, 2:03 pm
  #3  
 
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Originally Posted by nelsoji View Post
First let me apologize if this is posted in the wrong forum or if something similar has been asked that I couldn’t find. My basic question – and will provide more info below – but what airlines should I be looking to try and fly to Italy from US for good business class.

I am taking my wife on a 10-year anniversary trip to Italy in 2021 (I know – I am early posting this) and wanted to work on at least some basic planning. My goal is to fly from Orlando (MCO) to likely FCO but open to other airports if it makes sense. We would like to fly business class (or possibly first) and use points (hence the early planning so I can earn enough points) and looking for your advice on what product to try and use. This will be my first international trip and while I have flown a ton domestically and experienced domestic US first and business class a number of times – I am excited to do something longer and experience lie-flat seats and all the other amenities that you get to experience on international first/business class – things I have never experienced. My goal is to fly the best product I can but my wife is going to force me to trade fewer stops for anything else.

So – if you were taking a trip in 2021 and looking for a one-stop from Orlando to FCO – what product would you target and why? I don’t need fancy food – would like something that her and I can be close enough to talk when we want to, have lie-flat (hopefully) or even some kind of suite, good entertainment options, and maybe a cool lounge experience during layover wherever that is. Anything else I should be thinking about?

Very much appreciate any responses!!!
I'm partial to international carriers for TATL business class. AF/KL or LH/LX are my usual choices. Though I'm in the minority, I don't mind CDG or FRA, but will opt for the smaller MUC or ZRH if available and competitively priced.
I really can't speak to domestic US carriers TATL hard product, because I haven't used them since the recliner days.
As for crews, that's courses for horses. For example, I like KL service. Many find it cold and impersonal. I also get along well with French people, something others find impossible
I personally will no longer fly BA. The product is imo poor in comparison to others. A very annoying "feature" is the purchase of a 4-figure premium cabin ticket does not include free seat selection until 7 days before departure. You can pay for the privilege, either by buying a full fare J ticket or by paying something like an extra £60 per seat on a Z (discounted, not fully flexible) fare. Essentially they reserve the entire cabin for their high status flyers. Nice for them, but renders the ticket uncompetitive for anyone else. IME, this is also evident in the differential quality of service high status and non-status passengers receive. It's a small cabin and you will notice it. Again, terrific for their FF, but not so much for anyone else.
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Old Apr 26, 19, 4:50 pm
  #4  
 
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That's a long time in the future to plan routes / airlines / awards. Who knows how many points one would need on AA, DL, AZ (Alitalia - if they are even flying..). Given that, if I were doing it, these are some points I would consider:

1) think about racking up points on Chase or other programs that effectively give you $'s to spend - that will let you flex to the best offer / availability at that time
2) when you get within 6-7 months of when you want to fly, get an expertflyer subscription
3) learn how to use itamatrix and pray it is still up and running then
4) what time of year are you talking about - that has a big impact on routes, cost/availability of award inventory upgrades - winter is a lot cheaper than peak tourist
5) beyond a straight award, doing an upgrade on a Y ticket may be a good approach.
6) I'd be open to airports other than FCO. Right now, MXP via JFK is the best way in/out but a last year, BLQ was pretty cheap via MAD for example.

Much of this is really hard to optimize as there are many factors that will change between now and then. You can't predict what will change so the best strategy is one that maximizes your flexibility.
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Old Apr 28, 19, 12:29 pm
  #5  
 
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Hi Nelsoji,

I can't speak to the points aspect but I found the following helpful when I booked biz class to italy last summer. I live in North FL as reference.

The previous posters have a wealth of information!

1. I would not be tied to MCO, check out MIA, FLL, TPA and SFB also.
2. I would not be tied to FCO. Check out other airports in central & northern Italy.
3. I got good biz class rates through AA Vacation but I did not ultimately book through them. This thread is worth a read (all the way through) for those wanting to book biz class to Europe. AA: Reduced J Prices to Europe when purchasing via AA Vacations
4. Hang out on the premium deal forum. I don't have the thread but you go to Miles and Points and then Premium Fare Deals. I typically
don't see much for MCO but occasionally good deals pop up for MIA to Europe.
5. After I had 2-3 options Seat Guru was helpful. (I used the free version.)
6. At some point you will have to lock into some parameters that are important to you. For me I wanted a true "lay flat". Not all planes that operate
across the Atlantic are true "lay flat" 180 degrees. Seat Guru was helpful in determining the true "lay flat"s. I tossed out any routes that did not
have true "lay flats." Another criteria for me was change plane in US? or change plane in Europe? I prefer to change planes in US to get non stop
to Italy so that is what we did.
7. One of the better things that I did was book a car service to collect us at airport in Europe. I've never done this before but looking back it was worth
it. Think Italian guy in suit, holding a sign with your name and collecting you at the luggage area. It made getting to our accomodations seamless.
8. ITAMATRIX like the other reader said.
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Old Apr 28, 19, 4:28 pm
  #6  
 
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Originally Posted by nelsoji View Post

So – if you were taking a trip in 2021 and looking for a one-stop from Orlando to FCO – what product would you target and why? I don’t need fancy food –would like something that her and I can be close enough to talk when we want to, have lie-flat (hopefully) or even some kind of suite, good entertainment options, and maybe a cool lounge experience during layover wherever that is. Anything else I should be thinking about?

Very much appreciate any responses!!!
Couple of points:

Close enough to talk - J cabins tend to be 1-2-1 and often the 2 in the middle are terrible for talking with one another. My wife hates the J AA configuration exactly because it's next to impossible to talk without having to drastically lean forward and almost shouting. I'll probably install a bluetooth chat app on our phones for exactly this scenario next time we fly TATL J. On the flight to Europe it's not a big deal - you'll want to sleep if you can. On the flight back, my wife actually prefers Premium Economy when its the 2 of a 2-3-2 configuration. Generally, we do J to Italy and PE coming back so we can talk and be together. We prefer those products for those flights and it significantly reduces the cost of the return.

Some kind of suite - I wouldn't count on this unless an ME3 airline is allowed and can connect via Italy. Nothing, to my knowledge, between NA & Italy has a suite.

Cool Lounge Experience - all about your routing. Amex Centurions are possible in MIA, PHL, soon to be CLT, DFW. You can get flagship dining on AA if you have enough status (JFK, MIA, I think soon PHL - check the list). If you fly LH via Frankfurt the Lufthansa FC lounge there is a trip. Heck, if you fly via IST on Turkish the lounge in Istanbul is great but that's a pretty round-about way to get to Italy.

PS - if you do fly AA 777 across and want to talk, you can lie flat the bed and flip around to talk.
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Old Apr 29, 19, 12:50 pm
  #7  
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My thoughts:

(1) If you can start accumulating points in a flexible transferrable currency like Chase UR or Amex points or Citi. This will give you the most options for finding saver award seats as you won't be locked into one airline. Count on needing at least 75k points per person, one-way, or 300k points for 2 roundtrips. For example we are also traveling to Italy this summer and found 4 business class saver seats on the same flight using UA miles on LH. But could not find saver return flights using UA miles, though we could find seats on AF by transferring Chase points.

(2) As noted above be flexible with dates and destinations. For example The LH seats we found were DEN-FRA, not our first choice. But we knew we could get a cheap positioning flight from SFO-DEN, and no trouble booking connecting flights to Italy on the same award ticket. For you - there will be more choices if you are willing to take a less convenient connection via IAD, JFK/EWR, PHL, ATL or even BOS. You may also have to accept a connection in Europe as award seats on nonstops to Italy are scarce.

(3) Start looking 11 months out as some airlines release award seats at this mark. But don't pull the trigger unless you see something you like as you will find more options may appear at 9-month and 6-month time frames.

(4) Check this forum for great car service recommendations from FCO.

(5) Lounge options will depend on the airports you end up connecting. Most are crowded and not impressive (IMO even UA Polaris fall into this category) so I wouldn't base my decision on this criterion. Personally I like LH and to a lesser extent UA Polaris. DL and AA are unimpressive. LX and OS are good. Unfortunately SQ, EK are not really good options for this routing.

(6) You didn't specify the time of year for your trip - which is megaimportant. Summer is very difficult as this is peak vacation season. If you can fly between Sept-May you will find many more saver award seat options.
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Old May 5, 19, 6:18 am
  #8  
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This is of course a trip over 2 years out, so what I post now may not even be relevant by then, but I'm going to post as if this was in 2020: (Also, congrats on 8 years so far! )

If it were me, I'd take a quick positioning flight to JFK and take Emirates direct to Milan (MXP). Believe me, Mrs. Meunger11 of anybody loves to fly direct, but if you can sell the spousal unit on some bar action in the sky, and potentially first class: you can snag EK a380 first class for 85k/points pp OW and biz is 57.5k/pp OW. You can also shower. Did I mention EK tends to have a slew of seats in F and J on any given flight? I typically see 3-4 in F and 7 in J (I'd get a basic ExpertFlyer membership if you don't have one already). This is not unlike what JMN57 said about going via JFK to MXP.

Not sure how familiar you are with EK out of JFK, but you'd board straight from the lounge - fun little perk for a points F/J ticket.

Milan is beautiful and a ~3hr bullet train ride to Rome. (I'd recommend splurging for the Classe Executive on the Frecchiarossa - my wife and I love it). You'll see the gorgeous country-side on your way, or if you're feeling adventurous, you can hop on and off the regional and visit the pretty little towns along the way. Our friends did this for their 1yr anni and met us in Rome for brunch in The Vatican.

A 10yr anniversary seems worth splurging for on all accounts, including miles, but not what AA provides, which is usually 135k-180k J redemptions OW/pp direct to Europe. If you MUST fly American for whatever reason, look for Saver Awards, but do know they often only have one Saver per cabin. (Again, check Expert Flyer)

Outside of EK, AA does fly direct from MCO to FCO, but you will be gouged on the miles as noted above. You could hop an MCO - MAD flight direct to Madrid, and then just hop a quick flight to FCO from there. Again, I'm all about direct flights, but from Orlando, this will get complicated quickly.

I have also heard of direct flights out of MIA, but I believe most of them go to LHR, and like other FTers on here, check the seasonality given the fact that this is well over 1.5yrs-2yrs out.

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Old May 5, 19, 6:33 am
  #9  
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Going to pull one of my Maesters into this discussion. @1readyset2go

Had to do a Game of Thrones reference.
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Old May 5, 19, 9:06 am
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Originally Posted by meunger11 View Post

If it were me, I'd take a quick positioning flight to JFK and take Emirates direct to Milan (MXP). Believe me, Mrs. Meunger11 of anybody loves to fly direct, but if you can sell the spousal unit on some bar action in the sky, and potentially first class: you can snag EK a380 first class for 85k/points pp OW and biz is 57.5k/pp OW. You can also shower. Did I mention EK tends to have a slew of seats in F and J on any given flight? I typically see 3-4 in F and 7 in J (I'd get a basic ExpertFlyer membership if you don't have one already). This is not unlike what JMN57 said about going via JFK to MXP.

Not sure how familiar you are with EK out of JFK, but you'd board straight from the lounge - fun little perk for a points F/J ticket.

Milan is beautiful and a ~3hr bullet train ride to Rome. (I'd recommend splurging for the Classe Executive on the Frecchiarossa - my wife and I love it). You'll see the gorgeous country-side on your way, or if you're feeling adventurous, you can hop on and off the regional and visit the pretty little towns along the way. Our friends did this for their 1yr anni and met us in Rome for brunch in The Vatican.

A 10yr anniversary seems worth splurging for on all accounts, including miles, but not what AA provides, which is usually 135k-180k J redemptions OW/pp direct to Europe. If you MUST fly American for whatever reason, look for Saver Awards, but do know they often only have one Saver per cabin. (Again, check Expert Flyer)


I had forgotten that EK has that Fifth Freedom flight from JFK to MXP (I'm pretty much a OW flyer). Good catch meunger11. That is, by far, the best product TATL from North American to Italy. If your itinerary is Rome-centric, it's a small pain to go via MXP. If its Italy-centric, you can probably build an itinerary around going in/out of MXP.

This article - https://thepointsguy.com/guide/booki...t-card-points/ - covers how to get points into EK. Some paths come with steep costs (the taxes for J via Amex, for example, are almost the same price as a RT in business so one might as well buy the ticket. Upgrade from J-F us only 39,000 miles though). All the assumes things stay static for next two years.
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Old May 5, 19, 2:50 pm
  #11  
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I'm not a big fan of EK at all. They lied to WSJ about lie-flat seats (they were angled flat when the story was written) and I find the food and clientele not to my liking. Though you may have a different crowd on JFK-MXP than you find from SFO-DXB. Yes some of the lounges are amazing but I fly for comfort and quiet, and secondarily for edible food that won't inflame my sensitive stomach. EK offered none of that with noisy families in back and drunks in the front cabin hitting on the FAs. Plus what are your options in the event of MX or other irregularities? When I fly UA, AA, LH, BA, I know I will have dozens of options if something goes wrong - they all have dozens of flights a day to Europe and many connections. EK is not known irrops handling and its not like you're going to want to take another EK flight to their hub and double back. Now the % is low so maybe a good flight for those who travel regularly, but not for a once-in-a-decade trip.
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Old May 8, 19, 5:59 am
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A sweet spot to use miles is actually with AZ directly if you AMEX points. AZ charges significantly less and they have more inventory available if you use their miles instead of a partner.

You can search on alitalia.com without opening an account and if you find something you can transfer from AMEX immediately. Note - AZ allows one way bookings, but gives you a discount for RT. 48K one way in business; 80K roundtrip
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Old May 8, 19, 6:09 am
  #13  
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IMO the big question is whether AZ will still be flying in two years and, if so, what the experience/service would be. Currently their business class hard and soft products are considered to be good, but note that all AZ operated domestic flights are coach only.

I agree with the advice above to avoid BA. BA award tickets (including those using AA miles) carry high fees and you can expect to pay a total of about US$700 (roughly 100 pounds per person for each TATL segment and more if you want to sit together in their Eurobusiness class flights between LHR and Italy) to pick seats in advance, even the bad business class seats, in order to sit together on this special trip. Moreover, their product just isn't competitive in terms of seats, configuration, aircraft cleanliness, aircraft wear and tear, etc.
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Old May 13, 19, 4:10 pm
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I recently found two award tickets MIA-ZRH on Swiss (using United points). Return is on Virgin Atlantic LHR-MIA. All tickets are business class. I actually found it easier to get the tickets out of MIA than I did ex NYC.

That being said anything in reward tickets to Italy is a tough find since there FCO or MXP isn't really a transit hub like FRA LHR CDG - there just isn't that many aircraft going to those airports, that means less "free" seats

You will have to look everyday at 330 days to find something and it may not be available. Think of going MCO/MIA to LHR via Virgin. The redemption rates are lower than most (although that is offset by high fuel taxes). After that fly to wherever you want to go to

also look for low priced business seats at the same time. Some can be competitive
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