One of Velocity Frequent Flyer's lesser-known partners is SkyTeam alliance member Alitalia: based in Italy, offering a broad network of flights both long and short to get you to Europe and around the continent.
Reward flight bookings with Alitalia also require fewer points than most of Virgin Australia's other partner airlines – and in fact, the number of points needed is the same as to book Virgin Australia flights of the same length.
Provided you can find availability, you could also pair a Virgin Australia flight to Los Angeles with an Alitalia flight onward to Rome, for a one-stop journey to Italy as part of a single reward booking – but more on that later.
However, we'll flag up-front that Alitalia is currently undergoing bankruptcy proceedings. The airline is still flying as normal, but it's something to keep in mind, particularly when booking flights far in advance, as things can change over time.
Booking Alitalia flights with Velocity points: key routes
To get to Europe with Alitalia, you could fly to Milan from New York or Tokyo, or to Rome from the same cities plus Seoul, Boston, Los Angeles, Miami and Johannesburg, among other places further afield such as Havana, Buenos Aires and Delhi.
Once you're in Italy, much of Alitalia's domestic and short-haul network is centred on Rome – and from there, you can reach a network of cities across the country and continent.
Among the usual suspects of London (Heathrow and City airports) and Paris (de Gaulle and Orly airports), Alitalia also serves places like Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels, Budapest, Cairo, Copenhagen, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Geneva, Madrid, Moscow, Munich, Nice, Prague, Toulouse, Warsaw, Zurich and more.
A trick to keep in mind for Alitalia is that the airline often serves multiple airports in the one city: Heathrow and City Airport in London, Charles de Gaulle and Orly in Paris, Malpensa and Linate in Milan, and so on.
Different routes may run from each airport, so be sure to search all your options when planning travel. From Milan, for instance, Alitalia's only short-haul destination from Malpensa Airport is Rome – but from Linate, you have many more options for both international and Italian domestic flights.
Booking Alitalia flights with Velocity points: how many points you'll need
On those long international flights to Italy, here's how many Velocity points it takes to step on board. For return journeys, double these figures:
|To/from Italy (one-way)||Magnifica Class (business)
|83,500 Velocity points||39,800 Velocity points|
|71,500 Velocity points||34,800 Velocity points|
|59,500 Velocity points||27,800 Velocity points|
As Los Angeles is a destination also served by Virgin Australia, and Alitalia belongs to the same Velocity 'reward table' as Virgin Australia, seriously savvy flyers could also take the opportunity to fly from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane to Rome via Los Angeles, pairing a Virgin Australia flight and an Alitalia flight on the one reward booking.
It's not easily done, because you'll first need to find reward availability on a flight to LAX, which is now notoriously difficult being such a popular destination – and in connection with that, you'd also need to find reward space on an Alitalia flight leaving Los Angeles on the same day you arrive, to make it a connection.
If the stars align, you could book your Australia-LA-Rome journey for 127,500 Velocity points in business class or 59,800 points in economy class: but this can only be done over the phone, and you may need to 'remind' the operator that this itinerary qualifies as a "Table 1, Zone 10 journey", as both airlines are on the same reward table and the total flying distance is approximately 13,842 miles, well within the "Zone 10" cap of 15,000 miles.
Alitalia's daily flight from Los Angeles to Rome pushes back at 3:40pm, while most Virgin Australia flights arrive in the mornings, giving you plenty of time to connect in between. Connection times are also lengthy on the way back, with Alitalia arriving at 1:40pm and Virgin's flights leaving mid-evening, giving you the afternoon in Los Angeles and enough time to leave the airport, if you desire.
Just note that while Alitalia offers a "Classica Plus" (premium economy) cabin on some flights, these premium economy reward seats aren't typically made available to Velocity Frequent Flyer members.
Booking Alitalia flights with Velocity points: making that reservation
To book your Alitalia Magnifica Class (business class) or economy reward flight using Velocity points, you'll need to call Velocity Frequent Flyer on 13 18 75 between 7:30am and 10:30pm (AEST), seven days a week – or +61 2 8667 5924 during the same hours if dialling from overseas.
Don't visit Velocity's website to search for Alitalia flights: they don't appear, but there is a way you can check for Alitalia reward availability before you call, to help you plan and save time on the phone.
For this, you'll need an ExpertFlyer subscription – or at least, to sign up for a free membership trial.
Once you're in ExpertFlyer, head to the Awards & Upgrades area, select "Alitalia - AZ" from the list of available airlines, and search for your desired flight.
I'm going to hunt for a reward flight for one passenger from Tokyo to Rome, being flexible with dates by changing "exact date" to the "+/- 3 days" setting, and flying either business class or economy (selecting both classes to reveal all my travel options):
On the next screen, you'll see either one of two things – if your preferred date looks like this, it means there's nothing for you to book using points on that airline, either because there are no reward seats available, or because there's no flight running at all:
However, if the screen looks like this instead, and there's the magic word "yes" next to the flight and class you want to book, you're in luck:
Remember, we searched for flights for one passenger only, so this indicates that there's reward space for at least one passenger in business class on that flight, but none in economy.
If you're planning to book travel for more than one person, you need to enter the correct number of passengers on the search screen to get the most accurate results – you could well see a "yes" when searching for one passenger, but "no" when searching for more.
Once you've found something suitable, you'll be in the best place to give Velocity Frequent Flyer a call, and can provide the operator with the exact flight and date you want to book.
If you're struggling to find Alitalia availability on the dates you need to travel, you could consider flying with Velocity partner Virgin Atlantic instead, which connects destinations across Asia and North America to London.
Then, you could use your Velocity points to book an Alitalia flight from London to Italy or elsewhere (with a connection in Rome or Milan) to get you to your final destination, and make the most of your Velocity points.
Receive 50,000 bonus Membership Rewards points when you apply online, are approved and spend $3,000 on your new Card in the first 3 months from the Card approval date.
- Receive 50,000 Membership Rewards Bonus Points when you apply online, are approved and spend $3,000 on your new Card within the first 3 months. This offer is available to new Card Members, as well as Bank-issued American Express companion cardholders
- Start exploring with a $400 Travel Credit every year
- Enjoy two complimentary entries per year to the American Express Lounge, located at Sydney International Airport or Melbourne International Airport
- 0% p.a. on balance transfers for the first 12 months — A one-off credit plan establishment fee of 1% applies
- No cap on earn rate. You can earn up to 2 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent, no matter how much you spend each month
- Transfer your points to a choice of 8 Airline Partner Programs including Virgin Australia and Singapore Airlines
- Spend more and earn more points by getting up to 4 Supplementary Cards for family members at no additional fee
- Travel with peace of mind knowing that you'll also enjoy extensive protection for you and your partner and dependent children when you pay for travel on your American Express Explorer® Credit Card