It seems like everyone wants to go to Rome. And while it'd be nice to make the long flight in a lie-flat business class seat so you can hit the ground ready to eat as much pizza and pasta as humanly possible, it's tough to do as airlines are notoriously stingy with releasing the award availability to book those seats with miles.
But there's a new, surefire way to make it happen: You can now book ITA Airways business class using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points, with flights between the U.S. and Rome (FCO) starting at 75,000 points each way. And, as Frequent Miler pointed out first, there's wide-open availability to book many U.S. routes to Italy early next year – including as far out as May 2024!
ITA Airways is the successor to Italian flag carrier Alitalia and a member of the SkyTeam alliance with Virgin … at least for now. And while we haven't flown ITA ourselves, the airline's business class regularly gets high marks for great seats on their newest Airbus A350-900s and Airbus A330-900neos, plus great food and service no matter what plane you're flying.
Exactly how many miles you'll need to book these seats depends on which city you're flying from. Virgin Atlantic uses a distance-based award chart for these ITA flights, so longer flights from Miami (MIA) or the West Coast will cost you more than a nonstop from New York City (JFK). Here's a quick breakdown of the U.S. routes.
- Flights between Boston (BOS) and Rome (FCO): 75,000 points in business class or 25,500 in economy, each way
- Flights between New York City (JFK) and Rome (FCO): 75,000 points in business class or 25,500 in economy, each way
- Flights between New York City (JFK) and Milan (MXP): 75,000 points in business class or 25,500 in economy, each way
- Flights between Miami (MIA) and Rome (FCO): 85,000 points in business class or 31,000 in economy, each way
- Flights between Los Angeles (LAX) and Rome (FCO): 100,000 points in business class or 37,000 in economy, each way
- Flights between San Francisco (SFO) and Rome (FCO): 100,000 points in business class or 37,000 in economy, each way
Read our full guide to redeeming Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points!
Head to VirginAtlantic.com and start searching for these nonstop flights to Italy. Just beware that Virgin's site is full of quirks, including a necessary workaround to pull up a full month's worth of flights. You may also need to filter for direct flights to eliminate some other one-stop options on other airlines that charge fewer miles … but a ton more in fees.
At 75,000 points and up each way, it's certainly not the best deal in the world … but it's one of the few, surefire ways to book business class seats straight into Rome. And these points are incredibly easy to earn: Virgin Atlantic is a transfer partner with all the major credit card companies, so a stash of points on cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, or the American Express® Gold Card is all you need. Throw in one of the 30% transfer bonuses we regularly see to Virgin Atlantic, and you'll need even fewer points.
Plus, you won't pay a mountain of additional taxes and fees: Virgin Atlantic doesn't pass on fuel surcharges on these ITA awards, so you'll pay just $5.60 for a one-way to Rome and 56 euros (about $62 USD) for the return flights to the states.
Oddly, ITA's nonstop flight from between New York and Milan should clock in at 60,000 points each way in business class according to Virgin's award chart, since it measures in at under 4,000 miles. But booking through Virgin, you'll still see 75,000 points each way. Fingers crossed that changes!
No matter where you're looking to go in Italy, this could be a limited-time opportunity. The massive airline conglomerate Lufthansa Group is in the process of acquiring a major stake in ITA Airways. Once that goes through, it's likely that Lufthansa – a member of a different airline alliance, the Star Alliance – would cut off ITA's place in the SkyTeam and sever this redemption.
But until that happens, there might not be a better way to book a nonstop flight to Rome – especially if flying up front is your goal.
You can now book nonstop flights on ITA Airways using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points – including some solid availability up in business class for next year!
Business class redemptions to Rome through Virgin Atlantic start at 75,000 points each way. And considering how easy those points are to earn through credit card transfers, this might just be our go-to way to fly business class to Italy … at least while it's still available.