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ITA Airways (Italy’s Alitalia in a new guise) will be operating between Rome and Chicago from April next year and seats for this new route are already on sale. From a miles & points perspective, it’s good to see that Business Class awards are also now available with surcharges starting at just $5.60.
ITA’s new Chicago route
ITA will launch its new Rome – Chicago service on 7 April 2024. For the first couple of months the route will operate 6x/week (no service on Wednesdays) before turning into a daily service from 1 June 2024.
Once a daily service is in place, this is what the schedule is expected to look like:
AZ628 FCO 09:20 – 13:10 ORD
AZ629 ORD 15:10 – 07:30+1 day FCO
Most of the flights on this route will be operated by an Airbus A330-200 offering 20 Business Class seats, 17 Premium Economy seats, and 219 Economy Class seats and, unfortunately, it would be fair to say that the cabin interiors on this aircraft are ‘tired’.
Some flights, however, will be operated by the airline’s considerably more up to date A330-900neo aircraft which features a larger Business Class cabin (30 seats), a larger Premium Economy cabin (24 seats), and a larger Economy Class cabin (237 seats).
This second aircraft is the one to book regardless of the cabin you’re looking to fly in as the seats in all three cabins on the A330-900neo offer more personal space than the seats in the older aircraft (albeit by a very small margin in Economy Class).
Google Flights is currently showing the following prices for a 7-night trip:
Round trip fares originating in Chicago:
- Economy: $536 – $1,435
- Premium Economy: $1,636 – $3,291
- Business Class: $3,515 – $4,990
Round trip fares originating in Rome:
- Economy: $602 – $920
- Premium Economy: $1,021 – $1,507
- Business Class: $2,971 – $4,079
These fares ranges are correct as of 13 October 2023.
For the time being*, ITA awards can be booked using Virgin Atlantic points, and the good news here is that these awards don’t come with the usual heinous surcharges that we associate with Virgin Atlantic.
Points-wise, Business Class awards for this route aren’t particularly cheap (75,000 points each way), but because the taxes/surcharges on these flights are so low, these awards can still offer great value.
You’ll pay just $5.60 in taxes and surcharges for a one-way flight originating in Chicago.
And you’ll pay just $54.52 (at the time of writing) in taxes and surcharges for a one-way flight originating in Rome.
I value value Virgin Atlantic points at 1.0 cents each so that would place the cost of a round trip award between Chicago and Rome at ~$1,560 and, whichever way you look a it, that’s a bargain.
Keep in mind that Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is a transfer partner for American Express, Capital One, Citi, and Chase, so pulling together enough points for an award booking shouldn’t be too tricky.
*ITA Airways is currently a member of Skyteam which is why you can book its awards with Virgin Atlantic points. Going forward, however, this option is likely to be shut down after Lufthansa’s acquisition of ITA is completed and the airline makes it’s expected move across to the Star Alliance.
From April 2024, Chicago will be getting a new non-stop service to/from Rome courtesy of ITA Airways. As things stand, roundtrip awards are available and can be booked through the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club for 150,000 points and ~$60.