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My Experience with Alitalia

Where to even begin?

My experience with Alitalia was the worst I’ve ever had with an airline. They’re uncommunicative, highly unhelpful, and their website is a complete disaster.

Let’s start at the beginning.

I found a really great deal of a ticket – only $281 with a promo code that I used on Alitalia’s Japanese website.

Cheap ticket to Madrid!

Cheap ticket to Madrid!

 

The code was valid on any fare. However, the best deal was to go to Madrid. I’d never been to Madrid and had always wanted to. I used Google Chrome to convert the Japanese text to English, plugged in the code, and got $315 off the fare. It went through after some coaxing. Amex converted the Yen to US dollars, and the total came to $281. Shortly after, I received a confirmation email with a ticket number.

Then, I got this email on the 21st:

Screen Shot 2013-03-05 at 1.27.05 PM

 

Then, on the 22nd, I got this email:

 

 

Rejected purchase

Rejected purchase

I figured the deal was off and forgot about it until I received another email on the 25th:

Screen Shot 2013-03-05 at 1.29.41 PM

 

Shortly after, I received my itinerary. Great. I was booked for Madrid. Those few days in waiting were very “will they or won’t they” – and I honestly thought they wouldn’t honor the fare. So when they did, I wanted to verify that the reservation was in their system.

alitalia.com is a piece of you-know-what. The only way to view the reservation, I found after a lot of Googling, was to use the Russian website – alitalia.ru, which I had to translate from Russia into English. Sure enough, my reservation was there. February 1-5. Yay. I booked a cute room in Chueca, Madrid’s gay district, through Airbnb.

All was good for a few months. November and December passed, and I thought I was still on for my February trip to Madrid. On January 21st, I received this communication:

They canceled my flight on the 5th

They canceled my flight on the 5th

 

Great. Canceled flight. So I called them to get onto another flight on the 5th. Nothing. But I could get on a flight on the 4th, which meant I’d have to cut short my first trip to Spain, and update my Airbnb reservation. I only got $5 back after paying the change fee, and Alitalia put me on a flight on the 4th instead. Fine.

All went as planned on the departure, thank god, because after so much back and forth I already swore I’d never take Alitalia ever again. Their CSRs are like freaking robots. Talking to them is like pressing a button on a phone menu. They don’t listen. They just repeat the same statements over and over. Oh, it’s worth mentioning that the number I called them on isn’t listed on their website. That would be too easy. I had to Google around to get that too. No reservation on their main website, no number to call them on, random flight changes, and a less than accommodating bunch of CSRs. I even hung up and called back a few times. It’s like they’re all brainwashed.

I had a great time in Madrid, and on my last night there, the 3rd, was getting ready to for my 7am flight the next morning. Until I got an email at MIDNIGHT that Alitalia had pushed back the second leg of my trip, FCO-JFK, by five hours. Which meant my layover in FCO, a total shithole of an airport, would be over nine hours.

I called them and asked if I could tighten up the connections in any way. Maybe connect in Milan, or Miami instead of Rome? No. No, no, no. I tried to check their flight schedules on the website, which simply doesn’t function. BUT, it did work on their mobile app. I took a few screenshots and called back again with another plan.

Could I at least fly out of Madrid a little later? The agent gasped like it was the most brilliant idea she’d ever heard. What a moron. She put me on a 12pm flight instead, which meant I could sleep in a bit. How shady to do something like that the night before an early flight, when I was planning on getting only a few hours of sleep anyway.

By that time, I was most unhappy to be taking Alitalia back to JFK. The airline is garbage. And they’re supposedly the 8th largest carrier in the world and Italy’s premier airline? Between Alitalia and FCO, color me extremely unimpressed with Italy’s aviation experiments. Regarding Alitalia: between the terrible agents, multiple canceled/delayed flights, last-minute communication, back-and-forth on whether I even had a ticket or not, and the piece-of-$#!+ international websites, I will avoid this airline at all cost. If you ever have to fly with them, be very wary. You’ll have to check in on them a lot. And even then, expect a lot of red tape to get clear answers. Very customer UNfriendly.

When I think about it all now, it makes me cringe. I’d honestly be surprised if anyone’s had a positive experience with them. Did anyone else get in on this fare deal? How was the service?

At least I credited it to Delta and got a nice batch of MQMs out of it. In fact, when I got back, I found out it had bumped me into Silver Medallion status. Small wins. Small wins.

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Trip Report: Madrid 2013

I went to Madrid February 1-4, 2013.

Booking Madrid

The ticket was only $281 R/T in economy thanks to an awesome deal described in this post from The Points Guy. I was actually in the middle of putting together The Points Game guide, so this was a real opportunity to put some of the things I’d learned from the blogs into practice.

The currency conversion came to $281

The currency conversion came to $281

I bought the ticket for a number of reasons:

  • As a Silver Medallion on Delta, I was entitled to a 25% RDM bonus
  • The itinerary was JFK-FCO-MAD-FCO-JFK – over 10K MQMs and nearly 13K RDMs
  • The end result was 2 cents/mile – a screaming deal

Screen shot 2013-03-03 at 7.28.18 PM

 

Multiply this times two

Multiply this times two – I credited the flights to Delta’s SkyMiles program

 

I paid for the ticket with a no-foreign-transaction-fee credit card (my Amex Platinum Card) since I had a credit with them after bitching for a solid week in September.

And I’d always wanted to visit Spain. You can’t beat a $281 R/T ticket that comes with ~13K RDMs. It would also be my first chance to utilize my Global Entry (coming back to JFK) that I got through the Amex Platinum Card.

Departure

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