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It looks as if a fare war has broken out on the Milan – New York route and it may just be that it’s the Qatar Airways backed Air Italy that has triggered it.
Air Italy has recently started to expand its operations to/from the US (much to the anger of the Delta) so I don’t think it’s a coincidence that two of the protagonists in this fare war are Delta and Air Italy with Delta’s subsidised Italian partner (Alitalia) and the Star Alliance airlines joining in too.
Earlier I wrote about the fares that SkyTeam is offering between Milan and New York (details of the Air Italy fare are coming up) so in this post I’m going to focus on the roundtrip Business Class Star Alliance fares between Milan and New York that start at around $1,700.
Star Alliance Fare – Headline Rules
Essentially these are the same fare rules that we’re seeing for the SkyTeam fares:
- Fares are called “midweek excursion fares”
- Travel 23 January through 2 December 2019
- Book by 28 January 2019
- Reservations must be made 14 days in advance
- Minimum stay is 3 days or a Saturday night
- Maximum stay is 3 months
- No stopovers permitted
As you’ll see in a moment this fare is marginally more expensive than the SkyTeam fare but, like the SkyTeam fare, it’s available throughout most of 2019 – that’s very good news.
Star Alliance Fare – Availability
The availability shown below is for the non-stop routing only which is why you’ll see some gaps in the dates (days where a non-stop service isn’t operating). This service is offered by United Airlines and, unlike the SkyTeam and Air Italy fares, this fare is for travel into Newark (EWR) rather than JFK.
One-stop routings are also available (I’ll touch on those later) and, if you’re happy to take one of those, that will expand availability for you.
The United non-stop fare is available for travel from the end of January…
….and you’d struggle to miss it in February….
…..and April (which means it’s available during the Spring school vacations).
The fare is still going strong in May….
….and although availability drops off a little from June onwards ….
…there are still more than enough dates on which it’s available to keep most people happy.
Finding These Fares
I used the Matrix search tool to find these fares as I find that it shows what is and isn’t available clearer than Google Flights (others may disagree) and here’s an example of the search parameters I used:
These parameters limit the search to non-stop Star Alliance flights (which will only bring up options on United) so you’ll have to relax the restrictions if you want to see the one-stop routings too.
The Routing & Aircraft
The $1,736 fare is for a non-stop routing between Milan Malpensa and Newark and is only available on United Airlines which operates a 767-300 aircraft on this route:
The United 767-400 Business Class cabin seat map looks like this (per ExpertFlyer)…….
…and like this on United.com:
Based on what I can find online these seats are the older style United Business Class seats similar to the ones found on the airline’s Dreamliners….
…and should not be confused with the newer Polaris seats that are found on the 767-300 aircraft that United also operates:
I suspect that a lot of people booking these fares will be swayed by what airline they can book with (i.e which loyalty program they can credit the flights to) but, from what I can see, the Delta A330 that operates this same route (and which can be booked for slightly less than the United 767-400) is a much better option.
As I mentioned earlier you can avoid flying the United 767-400 and still book with a Star Alliance airline if you’re prepared to take a stopover….
….and pay a little more.
The SWISS A330 cabin may be a step up from the cabin United is offering but I’m not convinced it’s good enough to warrant the extra cost and the extra journey time too.
Booking The Fares
You can’t book the fares via the Matrix search so, once you’ve found dates that work for you, you should book via the route which is most beneficial to you.
By this I mean….
- If you’re using a credit card that gives you a bonus for booking directly with an airline you should make sure you book via United or whatever other airline you’re choosing to fly. I found this fare with ease on United.com.
- If you’re using a credit card that gives you a bonus for all travel bookings booking you should be safe booking through most online travel agents or the airlines directly.
- There will also be the matter of where to credit the flights for the purposes of earning miles and credits towards elite status (I’ll come on to that in the next section) so you should make sure you’re aware of the rules of the loyalty program you’re crediting to before you decide who to book with – if you book through United and credit to United you’ll earn miles based on the cost of the fare while booking through SWISS (for example) and crediting to United will see you earn miles based on the distance traveled.
Where To Credit The Flights
United is a member of the Star Alliance so there are a lot of loyalty programs to which you can credit these flights.
Booking through United will see you book fares in the airline’s “P” code which, according to wheretocredit.com, will earn you the following (depending on where you credit the flights):
Make sure you look through this tables carefully before deciding how to book your fare and where to credit to and make sure you understand how credits towards elite status will work too.
Out of all the Milan – New York fares that I’m writing about today this would be my second favorite (third favorite if you count the Delta and Alitalia options separately).
The Delta A330 Business Class cabin is a considerable upgrade on the United 767-400 cabin (in my opinion) and I’d choose the Alitalia A330 over the United option too (plus the SkyTeam flights are slightly cheaper).
Still, if you’re looking to earn miles and elite credits in a Star Alliance loyalty program this is still a very good fare.
It may not be a fantastic “must not miss” fare but it costs significantly less than $2,000 and offers a comfortable cabin across the Atlantic – that makes it a pretty good deal in my eyes.