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The Amalfi Coast of Italy is justifiably on many a traveler’s bucket list. From the picturesque towns of Positano and Ravello to the luxurious island getaway of Capri, the region offers the quintessential Italian escape.
While you can sometimes find affordable fares to the Amalfi Coat, there are also numerous ways to use points and miles to cut the costs. With this in mind, here are the best ways to use travel rewards to plan your Amalfi vacation.
Flying to the Amalfi Coast
If you are coming to Amalfi, you will inevitably need to fly into Naples and transfer to the coast by car or ferry. Unfortunately, there are no nonstop flights from the United States to Naples, so you will need to connect through Europe via a variety of carriers. The following airlines currently offer international service to Naples Capodichino International Airport (NAP):
- Aegean Airlines
- Brussels Airlines
- Air Arabia
- Swiss Air
- Aer Lingus
- Turkish Airlines
- Wizz Air
- Ernest Airlines
- British Airways
- Iberia Express
- S7 Airlines
- Air France
- Air Cairo
- El Al Airlines
- Tunisair Express
Luckily, may of these carriers are members of Oneworld, SkyTeam or Star Alliance, which allows for reasonable award options from across the US to Naples.
The Best Mileage and Points Options
Now let’s focus on which mileage and points programs offer the most convenient and best award redemptions to Naples:
1. United MileagePlus
United MileagePlus is one of the best options for award travel to the Amalfi Coast because the program offers solid redemption rates on the numerous Star Alliance carriers that service Naples without tacking on hefty fuel surcharges. Furthermore, United miles are easy to acquire and use considering United is a 1:1 transfer partner with Chase Ultimate Rewards and a 2:1 transfer partner with Starwood Preferred Guest (soon to be a 2.4:1 transfer partner in the new Marriott program).
If you are willing to travel during the fringe seasons of spring or fall, you likely will be able to find ample saver award availability in both economy and business class. For example, for travel in April 2019, I was able to find round-trip saver award availability in economy from Chicago (ORD) for 60,000 miles + $102.31.
Similarly, I was able to find round-trip saver award availability in business class for 120,000 miles + $102.31.
While award availability, especially in business class, may be harder to find in the coveted summer season, the low fuel surcharges across the Star Alliance network of carriers still makes United one of the best options for maximizing the value of your miles for travel to the Amalfi Coast.
2. Aeroplan (Air Canada)
Aeroplan, Air Canada’s frequent flyer program (for the time being), is another option for finding excellent award redemptions within the Star Alliance network. While Aeroplan is notorious for charging high fuel surcharges for flights on many Star Alliance award flights, the following Star Alliance carriers do not impose such charges on Aeroplan redemptions:
- Swiss Airlines
- Turkish Airlines
- United Airlines
- Brussels Airlines
For example, I was able to find round-trip economy flights from New York (JFK) to Naples on Brussels Airlines and Turkish Airlines for only 60,000 miles and $73.34 USD.
Similarly, I found round-trip business-class flights from JFK to Naples on Swiss Air for only 110,000 miles and $98.59 USD.
While Aeroplan may impose high fuel surcharges on man Star Alliance flights, it can be a wonderful option (especially for 110,000 miles round-trip in business class) if you find award availability on one of the carriers listed above that does not impose such fees. Further, since Aeroplan is a 1:1 transfer partner with American Express Membership Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest (soon to be the new Marriott program), it’s easy to accrue these miles for your Amalfi getaway.
3. American Airlines AAdvantage
The American Airlines AAdvantage program offers a variety of quality award redemptions within the Oneworld alliance. It’s a 1:1 transfer partner with Starwood Preferred Guest (soon to be Marriott), and you can travel to Naples from the USA for only 60,000 miles in economy and 115,000 miles in business class. The key to finding quality AAdvantage award redemptions, however, is to search for awards on Iberia and American metal as opposed to awards on British Airways in order to minimize high fuel surcharges. For example, I was able to find round-trip economy flights from New York (JFK) to Naples in April on Iberia airlines for only 60,000 miles and $224.91.
Similarly, I found business award availability using Iberia and American metal for the majority of the flights for only 115,000 miles and $230.91.
In contrast, AAdvantage awards on British Airways flights impose astronomical surcharges that can negate the value of the redemption, such as this business-class award in April for 1150,000 miles and $1,171.11!
Given the fees, it only makes sense to use AAdvantage if you can avoid flights on BA metal and other Oneworld carriers imposing high surcharges.
4. Flying Blue (Air France and KLM)
As one of only three award programs that is a transfer partner with American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest, KLM and Air France’s Flying Blue is an efficient option for finding SkyTeam awards to Europe.
While the number of miles necessary may vary given Flying Blue’s new revenue-based award model, there are still solid redemptions to be had to maximize your miles, especially in the spring and the fall. For example, for travel in April, I was able to find round-trip economy awards from New York (JFK) to Naples for 43,000 miles $221.38 USD, which is less than the typical 60,000-mile options found in other programs.
You can also find round-trip business-class flights for 114,000 miles, but the fuel surcharges tend to be quite high on these awards, totaling $526.15.
Overall, considering the wide variety of point transfer options with Flying Blue and the opportunity to obtain redemptions for fewer miles than other carriers, the program is a decent option for travel to the Amalfi Coast. The key, as always, is to shop around for awards that minimize fuel surcharges as much as possible.
5. Iberia Plus Avios
As the award currency of British Airways, Aer Lingus and Iberia Airlines, Avios can also be a valuable option for travel to Naples. However, as mentioned above, using Avios on British Airways notoriously leads to high fuel and surcharges that can negate the value of the award. For example, an economy flight from New York (JFK) to Naples on British Airways will run you 55,000 miles plus $514.88!
In order to save both miles and surcharges, you should consider using your Avios through the Iberia Plus program for flights to Naples. Through this distance-based program, I was able to find the following redemptions from JFK to Naples in low season via the Iberia Plus program at Iberia.com:
- 44,000 Avios plus $355.92
- 101,750 Avios plus $326.55
While these fees are not exactly minimal, they are lower than those on British Airways and offer round-trip travel to Naples for the fewest number of miles in both economy and business of any of the above options. As such, this transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest offers one of the best redemption options for travel to the Amalfi Coast
Getting From Naples to the Amalfi Coast
Once in Naples, the quickest way to the Amalfi Coast is by way of car. While a private transfer from Naples to Positano or Amalfi is the most direct and stress-free option, it will likely run you a hefty fee of around 100 euros. As an alternative option, you may consider renting a car and driving the beautiful (and treacherous) Amalfi Road yourself. If you go this route, be sure to use a card that offers primary car rental insurance. Just note that Italy is excluded from many cards’ primary rental insurance policies — so read the benefits guide before booking.
If you are traveling on a budget, you can reach the Amalfi Coast by bus for only a few euros. However, this involves multiple hours of travel as you must first connect by train from Naples to Sorrento and then catch the SITA bus to the Amalfi Coast.
Finally, if you prefer to travel by ferry, note that there is no direct ferry service between Naples and the Amalfi Coast. As such, you will again need to transfer to Sorrento in order to catch a high-speed ferry to Positano, Amalfi or Salerno for roughly 20 euros each way.
Like much of Europe, there are ample airline options for traveling to Naples in order to visit the Amalfi Coast. However, the above options offer the best miles and points redemptions that minimize fees and get the most bang for your buck. By using these mileage programs and having flexibility in your travel dates, you will spend less time stressing over how to get to Amalfi and more time taking in the azure waters of the Mediterranean over a limoncello on your dream Italian vacation.
Featured photo by @heatherdeffense via Twenty20
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