How to book a COVID-tested flight to Italy from 51,000 miles round-trip
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Last week, Italy announced plans to welcome vaccinated American travelers in May. An exact date hasn’t been announced just yet.
However, we recently got some fantastic news that has many of our readers excited about the possibility of traveling to Italy: Starting May 16, Italy will begin welcoming all tourists (regardless of vaccination status) as long as they’re flying on a COVID-tested flight from the U.S., Canada, Japan or UAE.
While this is exciting news for everyone who wants to visit Italy, it does limit your flight options to those operated by Delta, American, United and Alitalia. Demand is likely to be high until the COVID-tested flight restriction is lifted.
We researched Delta and American’s COVID-tested flights between the U.S. and Italy to determine how many miles were needed. Surprisingly, there is plenty of award space and, and with some flexibility, you can score a great deal.
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American COVID-tested flights to Italy
American Airlines has offered COVID-tested flights to Italy since April 2. American’s COVID-tested flight schedule is as follows:
- Daily service between JFK and MXP
- Three-times weekly service between JFK and FCO
- Four-times weekly service between Dallas (DFW) and FCO is not currently COVID-tested but expected to transition in the coming days
New York-JFK to MXP
AAdvantage miles: 60,000 miles + $55.25
With tons of availability on the JFK-MXP route, these awards are pricing out at the standard level of 60,000 miles. Taxes and fees are a bargain at $55.25, which is refreshing because we’re so used to seeing British Airways awards on European routes that tack on hundreds of dollars in fuel surcharges.
American is offering business class Web Specials that price out at 55,000 miles each way, which is lower than the usual 57,500. You might even see fares as low as 85,000 miles round-trip, but one of these segments will be in economy class.
New York-JFK to FCO
AAdvantage miles: 60,000 miles + $70.85
Economy class seats on American’s covid-tested JFK-FCO flights also cost just 60,000 miles round-trip, with taxes coming in at $76.45. There is a Web Special award for business class awards, with taxes pricing out at $70.85.
How to earn miles for a United COVID-tested flight
There are many ways to earn American AAdvantage miles. If you’re not in a rush to travel, then you could apply for a new AAdvantage card in order to secure the miles for this flight.
At the moment, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® offers 65,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first four months of account opening.
The information for the CitiBusiness AAdvantage card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Delta COVID-tested flights to Italy
Before we dive into award availability, let’s review the routes for Delta’s covid-tested flights:
- Daily service between New York-JFK and Milan (MXP)
- Three-times weekly service between New York-JFK and Rome (FCO), increasing to daily on July 1
- Five-times weekly service between Atlanta (ATL) and Rome (FCO), increasing to daily on May 26
Atlanta (ATL) and Rome (FCO)
Delta Skymiles: 110,000 + $107
Flying Blue: 58,000 miles + $76
Delta is offering five-times weekly service between Atlanta and Rome, with daily frequency planned for May 26 and onward. At the moment, an economy class seat on these flights will set you back 110,000 SkyMiles and $107. Meanwhile, Delta One costs 320,000 and $109. If you wait until June, you’ll find economy fares as low as 80,000 miles and $170. Meanwhile, Delta One drops to 270,000 Skymiles and $147.
Those are pretty steep numbers, even considering the summer months and overall high demand. You can save significantly by redeeming Flying Blue miles for these flights instead. You’ll need just 58,000 miles and 62.27 euros ($76) for the same Delta economy class award. Delta One award space is restricted at the moment, so this option is really ideal for those who want to travel in economy class and save almost 50%.
New York-JFK and Milan (MXP)
Delta Skymiles: 60,000 Skymiles + $56
Flying Blue: 51,000 miles + $60
Starting May 16, Delta began offering daily service between New York and Milan. These award tickets are much more reasonably priced than the Atlanta-Rome segments. You’ll pay just 60,000 miles and $56 in taxes and fees. Delta One costs a staggering 320,000 Skymile and $56.
While these rates are reasonable, you can save even more by redeeming Flying Blue miles instead. The same round-trip economy class award between JFK-MXP will set you back just 51,000 miles and $60 in taxes.
If you’re willing to wait until vaccinated Americans are welcomed regardless of which flight they’re on, you can save even more by choosing an Air France flight on the outbound. Air France flights tend to price out cheaper. In this case, just the one segment change drops the price to 47,000 miles and 114.96 euros ($140).
New York-JFK and Rome (FCO)
Delta Skymiles: 66,000 SkyMiles + $71
Flying Blue: 55,000 miles + $75
Delta’s three-times-weekly service between New York and Rome will increase to daily service on July 1. In the meantime, you can book a round-trip economy class award on this route for 66,000 SkyMiles and $71. Delta One service will cost you 270,000 SkyMiles and $47 in May or 220,000 SkyMiles and $103 in June.
While the economy class rate is actually reasonable, Flying Blue comes out even cheaper at 55,000 miles and $75 in taxes.
If restrictions are further lifted and you’re able to fly on any airline, I recommend opting for an Air France segment over Delta to bring the award price down to just 43,000 Flying Blue miles.
New York-JFK and Venice (VCE)
Delta Skymiles: 56,000 SkyMiles + $53
Flying Blue: 43,000 miles + $249
Delta’s JFK-Venice route begins July 2 and award rates are fairly low at just 56,000 SkyMiles and $53 in taxes round-trip. Delta One rates start at 270,000 SkyMiles and $53.
Flying Blue isn’t showing any Delta award space on this route yet, but you can book Alitalia and KLM flights from 43,000 miles and $249 in taxes. Alitalia is also offering COVID-tested flights on the JFK-FCO segment.
Atlanta (ATL) to Venice (VCE)
Delta Skymiles: 70,000 SkyMiles + $103
Flying Blue: 43,000 miles + $262
Delta’s Atlanta – Venice route begins operating on Aug. 5, 2021. You’ll need 70,000 SkyMiles and $103 in taxes in fees for an economy award. During that week, the price peaks at 104,000 SkyMiles, so you’ll want to be flexible if you’re using SkyMiles. Delta One will cost you 320,000 SkyMiles and $58 round-trip.
Hopefully by August, all vaccinated Americans will be allowed to travel to Europe without flight restrictions. When that happens, you can use Flying Blue miles to book an Air France economy class ticket for 43,000 miles and $262 in taxes and fees.
Boston (BOS) to Rome (FCO)
Delta Skymiles: 70,000 SkyMiles + $71
Flying Blue: 43,000 + $271
Starting Aug. 5, Delta will begin operating flights between Boston and Rome. You’ll be able to redeem 70,000 SkyMiles for this award, which isn’t bad considering August is still peak travel season. If you want to sit up front, you’ll need 250,000 SkyMiles for a Delta One award ticket.
Again, Delta hasn’t released award space to Flying Blue yet. However, you can book a round-trip economy class award between Boston and Rome on Air France for 43,000 Flying Blue miles and $271.
How to earn miles for a Delta COVID-tested flight
Whether you decide to book with Delta SkyMiles or Flying Blue, earning miles is easy thanks to some generous credit card sign-up bonuses. Flying Blue miles are some of the easiest airline miles to earn, thanks to partnerships with all five transferable rewards programs: Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One Venture, Citi ThankYou, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy.
The best way to generate enough Flying Blue points for one of these award flights is to apply for The Platinum Card® from American Express. The card currently offers 100,000 points after spending $6,000 on purchases in the first six months of card membership, Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership, though you may be able to get a higher bonus through the CardMatch tool (targeted offers; subject to change at anytime).
The card’s annual fee is $695 (see rates & fees), which is a bit steep for most people. A good alternative would be the Citi Premier® Card, with an annual fee of just $95 and a welcome bonus of 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. You can then transfer your Citi ThankYou points to Flying Blue at a 1:1 ratio.
United COVID-tested flights
United currently operates several COVID-tested flights to Italy out of Newark Liberty Airport (EWR).
- Three-times weekly service between Newark (EWR) and Rome (FCO)
- Four-times weekly service between Newark (EWR) and Milan (MXP)
Three-times weekly service between Newark (EWR) and Rome (FCO)
United Mileage Plus: 64,200 miles + $70.85
ANA Mileage Club: 55,000 miles + $70.85
If you’re using United miles, award rats on this route range from 32,100 to 32,300 miles each way in economy class. Meanwhile, business class will cost you 125,200 miles and $70.85 in taxes.
Of course, you can save miles by using ANA Mileage Club miles instead. You’ll need just 55,000 miles round-trip for economy class and 88,000 miles for business.
Four-times weekly service between Newark (EWR) and Milan (MXP)
United Mileage Plus: 64,200 miles + $55.25
ANA Mileage Club: 55,000 miles + $55.19
As of this writing, there is plenty of award availability on United’s EWR-MXP route. The rates are identical to the EWR-FCO award, except taxes are slightly cheaper. Once again, you can save about 9,000 miles by booking through ANA Mileage Club.
How to earn miles for a United COVID-tested flight
Earning enough miles for a United COVID-tested flight is fairly easy. You can transfer Ultimate Rewards to United at a 1:1 ratio or apply for a co-branded credit card like the United Quest Card, which offers 80,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
If you decide to go the ANA route, you can transfer Membership Rewards at a 1:1 ratio. If you’re short on Membership Rewards, you can top off your account with a new credit card welcome bonus. The American Express® Gold Card offers enough points for an economy class ticket to Europe while The Platinum Card from American Express earns enough for a business class award.
It’s nice to see that Delta’s COVID-tested flights from the U.S. are mostly pricing out at reasonable rates despite the growing demand for travel to Italy. And on dates when they’re not, Air France and KLM’s joint program, Flying Blue, offers lower rates.
With Flying Blue Promo Rewards set to make a comeback, you might see those rates dropping even further near the end of summer. By then, the COVID-tested flight requirement will hopefully be dropped in favor of vaccination records.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, click here.
All screenshots courtesy of Flyingblue.us and aa.com.
Photo of Saint Peters Square In Rome, Italy by Peter Unger/Getty Images
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