Trying to Use Miles to Fly Business Class to Italy This Summer? American’s Got the Route for You
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Last August, American announced a slew of new and unique routes between its hubs in the US and Europe. Flights included Charlotte (CLT) to Munich (MUC) and Philadelphia (PHL) to Dubrovnik (DBV).
However, there's one route, Philadelphia to Bologna, Italy (BLQ) that appears especially unique, mainly because the front of the aircraft is completely empty on many days.
I discovered this after vigorously searching for award availability from Florence (FLR), Rome (FCO) and Milan (MXP) back to New York earlier this week. After browsing the map I plugged in Bologna and to my surprise, there were seven saver level awards in business for the dates I needed to fly. I ended up booking myself, my girlfriend and our friend back to the states in business class, all with miles and very reasonable taxes of ~$40 per ticket.
JonNYC, who closely monitors American Airlines, also commented yesterday on how the route is faring, and the conclusion is ... not well.
While this bad for AA's bottom line, it means there's fantastic business-class award availability between the states and Bologna during peak summer dates — and that's a rarity in award travel. While Bologna might not be the most popular destination in Italy, there's still plenty to see and do there. And if you're wanting to visit somewhere else, it's centrally located and requires just a quick train ride, drive or flight to get to other Italian cities.
Unfortunately you'll be on one of American's subpar products: a 767-300. The aircraft does have lie-flat seats but no seatback entertainment. Instead, you'll be given a tablet with a more limited selection of movies and television shows compared to standard in-flight entertainment systems.
But hey, saver business award availability to Italy in the summer with low taxes and fees? It's hard to complain about that.
To book, head over to AA.com and plug in your preferred departure airport and dates. Note that American only flies this route a few times a week, so you may not see availability everyday. And many days have multiple saver awards available, so you may be able to fly your entire family to Italy on the cheap.
If you don't have any American miles, you can book via Alaska for 57,500 miles and $19. British Airways Avios and Asia Miles are also options, although they'll both tack on higher taxes and fees.
Routes: US Airports to BLQ
Cost: 57,500 American miles + $6 one-way
Travel Dates: June 6 to September 28
Pay Taxes/Fees With: The Platinum Card® from American Express (5x on airfare booked directly with the airline), Citi Prestige Card (5x on airfare), Citi Premier® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve (3x on airfare), American Express® Gold Card (3x on airfare when booked directly with the airline) or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x on travel)
Philadelphia (PHL) to Bologna (BLQ) nonstop for 57,500 miles + $6 in taxes and fees one-way in July:
Bologna (BLQ) to Philadelphia (PHL) nonstop for 57,500 miles + $6 in taxes and fees one-way in July:
Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) to Bologna (BLQ) for 57,500 miles + $6 in taxes and fees one-way in August:
Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) to Bologna (BLQ) for 57,500 miles + $6 in taxes and fees one-way in August:
New York-LaGuardia (LGA) to Bologna (BLQ) for 345,000 miles + $34 in taxes and fees one-way in July for six passengers:
Maximize Your Purchase
Don’t forget to use a credit card that earns additional points on airfare purchases, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express (5x on flights booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel), Citi Prestige Card (5x on airfare on plus excellent trip delay insurance), Chase Sapphire Reserve, American Express® Gold Card (3x on airfare when booked directly with the airline), Citi Premier® Card (3x on airfare) or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x on all travel purchases). Check out this post for more on maximizing airfare purchases.