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Competition on the route from New York JFK to Milan MXP is heating up with Emirates launching new non-stop service on October 1 and Delta and Alitalia teaming up to offer two daily non-stop flights.

Emirates’ move was a pretty aggressive push with economy roundtrip fares booked now through October 8 for travel between October 1 – December 18 starting at $595 all in, which is a pretty incredible roundtrip economy fare to Europe these days, especially considering what a great economy product Emirates has aboard the 777-300ER’s it uses on this route. Just to test it out, I put in some sample dates and sure enough the tickets came in actually a few dollars under the sale amount.

JFK-MXP for $590 in Coach[1]Now SkyTeam partners Delta and Alitalia have shot back with a bonus offer where you can earn between 5,000-10,000 miles per roundtrip you take on this route between now and January. Here are the details:

First register online, and then book on and fly between now and January 15, 2014 and you can earn the following bonus miles for the following fare classes:

Screen shot 2013-10-04 at 11.56.08 AMBusiness J, C, D, I: 10,000 miles
Economy Y, B, M, S, H: 5,000 miles
Economy Comfort Purchased Upgrade: 1,000

You will earn half the miles on one-ways, and there are blackout dates including travel for eastbound flights from December 19-December 21, 2013, and westbound flights from January 1-January 8, 2014. All travel must be completed by January 15, 2014. There’s no limit to the number of bonus miles you can earn.

Travel may originate or terminate in any other city, but bonus miles will only be earned as long as paid travel is flown on the nonstop flights between New York/JFK and Milan/MXP. Codeshare flights operated by carriers other than Delta and Alitalia are excluded from this offer. Bonus miles earned with this promotion do not count toward Medallion or Million Miler status.

It appears that Delta has matched Emirates‘ $595 prices for most departure dates (Mondays and Tuesdays look to be about $100 higher most weeks October – December), including these sample ones:

Screen shot 2013-10-04 at 12.11.00 PMHowever, these are in some of Delta’s lowest fare classes, and to qualify for the bonus points, you need H class or higher (when you search for flights, pull up the advanced search options and you can select the fare classes. When I pulled up H fare classes or higher, which would include the other eligible economy fare classes, the fares skyrocketed to over $2,000 roundtrip in economy!

Screen shot 2013-10-04 at 12.24.51 PMSo in this case, what I’d suggest is this. If you fly this route and purchase higher fare classes or refundable tickets usually, register for the promo since you might as well rack up the bonus miles on this route. Otherwise, if price is the most important factor (and hey, that’s it for most of us), then it’s still nice that you have your choice of Emirates or Delta/Alitalia to choose from at the decent $595 fares as long as they last, and then if you end up buying one of them on Delta and purchase a paid upgrade to Economy Comfort ($59 each way on this flight), you can still earn a bonus 1,000 miles per roundtrip.

While I wish this bonus was good on regular economy fares, at least fares are low as the competition heats up on this route. I personally had a fantastic time in Milan when I was there in May and I got to experience both the new Alitalia A330 Magnifica Business Class and Delta’s 767-400 BusinessElite on this route. I’d highly recommend both, so if you’re thinking of purchasing business class fares, you might as well earn a 10,000-mile bonus in the meantime.

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