Italy and Australia have a number of services that connect in one-stop through Asia or the Middle East, operated by a range of airlines that are relatively redeem frequent flyer points with with the major programs in Australia – Qantas Points, Velocity Points, KrisFlyer miles and Asia miles.
This guide covers your options for redeeming your points for one-stop flights to Milan and Rome primarily, and Venice and Bologna as alternatives, factoring in KrisFlyer’s updated pricing and the latest frequent flyer partner relationships.
Note that all Qantas Point redemptions in this guide are set to increase by 18 September 2019. Read more about the upcoming changes here.
- Summary – which program to aim for ↓
- Using Qantas Points for Qantas / Emirates ↓
- Using Qantas Points or Asia miles for Cathay Pacific / Qatar / others ↓
- Using Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles for Singapore Airlines ↓
- Using Velocity points for Etihad Airways or Singapore Airlines ↓
Australia to Italy is a particularly tricky destination to produce a comparison table, given that more southern Italian cities like Rome can price more cheaply than those in the North, while Perth and sometimes Adelaide too can be close enough to intermediary hubs to reduce the cost further.
However – picking Sydney & Melbourne to Milan as an example does allow a solid comparison:
|Sydney / Melbourne to Milan||Points Currency||Business Class||First Class||Airline / Route|
|Emirates / Qantas Partner Award||Qantas Points||128,000||192,000||Qantas / Emirates via Dubai|
|Qantas oneworld Classic Award||Qantas Points||157,000||229,000||Cathay / Qatar via HK or Doha|
|Cathay one way||Asia miles||85,000||125,000||Cathay Pacific via HK|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||KrisFlyer miles||105,000||148,000||Singapore Airlines via Singapore|
|KrisFlyer transferred from Velocity||Velocity Points||162,750||229,400||Singapore Airlines via Singapore|
|Etihad Guest - Velocity Redemption||Velocity Points||139,000||203,000||Etihad Airways via Abu Dhabi|
In a point-per-point comparison, due to the changes to the Cathay loyalty program, it is now the cheapest in terms of pricing.
In a perfect world where everyone has lots of points/miles to redeem, you’re not going to go too far wrong targeting either Cathay or KrisFlyer for your redemptions.
KrisFlyer also generally has good redemption availability in Business and First Class, making it easier to score those Business or First Class seats in the first place.
Note: KrisFlyer announced changes coming into effect from 24 January 2019, which include an across-the-board increase in the number of miles required for premium cabin redemptions.
If you are planning on earning points in volume from your credit card spend, doing so in a flexible program that can transfer to Asia miles, KrisFlyer or Velocity would be key – if you can plan ahead.
That said, if you have a pile of Qantas Points that you’re already sitting on, then you’ll clearly want to aim for a redemption with Emirates or Qantas themselves to take advantage of their cheaper points pricing.
Emirates also has the widest route network of flights into Italy compared in this guide, servicing Venice, Bologna, Rome and Milan.
For Velocity, the points needed if transferring to either Krisflyer or Etihad Guest is now almost the same. However, due to Velocity’s redemption surcharge for Etihad flights, the best value is still via KrisFlyer and redeeming them for travel on Singapore Airlines.
Qantas Points are best used with Qantas or Emirates for flights to Europe to achieve most value – redeeming for oneworld partner airlines is more expensive.
The Qantas network is now only to Dubai as most of you would already know, with Emirates operating connecting flights beyond Dubai to Europe (and of course to Dubai from Australia too).
Emirates fly to Milan, Venice, Bologna, and Rome from their Dubai hub. A short drive or train journey from Italy is another Emirates destination – Geneva, in Switzerland.
Here’s how the Qantas Points pricing comes out:
|Origin||Destination||Class||Points Needed (one way)|
|Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane||All Italian cities||Business Class||128000|
|Adelaide||Bologna, Venice, Milan||Business Class||128000|
|Perth||Bologna, Venice, Milan||Business Class||112000|
|Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane||All Italian cities||First Class||192000|
|Adelaide||Bologna, Venice, Milan||First Class||192000|
|Perth||Bologna, Venice, Milan||First Class||168000|
|Dubai Stopover Options|
|Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide||Dubai||Business Class||96000|
|Dubai||All Italian cities||Business Class||50000|
|Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide||Dubai||First Class||144000|
|Dubai||All Italian cities||First Class||75000|
|Sydney, Melbourne||Dubai||Qantas Premium Economy||72000|
So there’s some fairly common pricing across most Australian cities, although Perth, Adelaide and Rome’s slightly shorter flight distances mean that the redemption cost in Qantas Points is lower for those cities.
Qantas fly a Premium Economy cabin to Dubai, but Emirates don’t, so if you’re not stopping over in Dubai you’ll be charged for the higher cabin all the way to your destination.
If you do stopover in Dubai (regardless of Premium Economy travel) then the cost in Qantas Points becomes the cost of the flight to Dubai, plus the flight to Italy.
I’d suggest only trying to use a Qantas Premium Economy redemption as part of an Australia to Italy flight if that’s the only cabin with availability, as otherwise it will be more expensive in terms of points.
Qantas’ pricing is not particularly competitive compared to the competition, but it has Emirates Italian route network going for it, along with generally good points redemption availability on Emirates’ flights between Dubai and Sydney.
Finally, also expect to pay upwards of $600 in taxes and fees along with the points.
Finding availability on Qantas’ own flights between Sydney/Melbourne and Dubai can be tricky in Business and First Class, but Emirates can have slightly better availability on this route, and the timing of Emirates’ flights often connects better than with Qantas’ flights to other Emirates flights into Europe.
Using Qantas Points or Asia miles to get to Italy with Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific and other oneworld partner airlines
Qantas Points can also be used for oneworld partner airlines, and when using frequent flyer points for flights to Italy, this would be Qatar Airways and Cathay Pacific as the primary one stop options.
The same is true for Cathay Pacific’s Cathay program, which has cheaper pricing than when redeeming Qantas Points, for the same routes.
Cathay is a partner of many credit card rewards programs which are more flexible than earning Qantas Points directly. More on flexible points programs here.
Here are the route options when travelling with Qatar:
With Cathay Pacific:
Here’s how pricing for Qantas Points and Asia miles for flights to Italy comes out:
|Origin||Destination||Premium Economy||Business Class||First Class||Premium Economy||Business Class||First Class|
|With Cathay Pacific:||Qantas Points||Asia miles (return miles in brackets)|
|Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth||Hong Kong||52500||65000||95000||30000 (60000)||45000 (90000)||70000 (140000)|
|Cairns||Hong Kong||42000||53000||-||30000 (60000)||45000 (90000)||70000 (140000)|
|Hong Kong||Rome||63000||78000||114000||40000 (80000)||65000 (130000)||100000 (200000)|
|Hong Kong||Milan||75000||92000||134000||40000 (80000)||65000 (130000)||100000 (200000)|
|With Qatar Airways:|
|Sydney||Doha||84000||104000||-||60000 (120000)||90000 (180000)||135000 (270000)|
|Melbourne, Adelaide||Doha||84000||104000||-||-||70000 (140000)||110000 (220000)|
|Doha||Milan, Rome, Venice||42000||53000||78000||-||30000 (60000)||45000 (90000)|
To get the total cost for your preferred (or more likely, available) city pair just add the Australia – Hong Kong / Doha and the Hong Kong / Doha to Italy flights together.
For example, Sydney to Venice in Business Class with Qatar Airways via Doha comes in at 157,000 Qantas Points one way, or 120,000 Asia miles one way / 240,000 Asia miles return.
Both Cathay and Qantas Frequent Flyer will charge you for the sum of both flights (in points) regardless of whether you have a stopover, so adding a stopover in Doha or Hong Kong would effectively be free.
The other key point to note is that Cathay charges significantly fewer points for a return trip than for two one ways. Worth bearing in mind if you have enough points to make a return booking with them.
One downside to Cathay loyalty program? If you want to book a First Class flight, but First Class isn’t available between Doha and Italy with Qatar, then you’ll still be charged as if you travelled the whole distance in First Class. Often from Sydney (and probably from Melbourne in future too) there is First Class award availability with Qatar, but not Business – meaning the cost jumps to 180,000 Asia miles one way even though only 2/3 of your trip is at the front of the plane.
Alternative oneworld option – British Airways from London
The other option for both Qantas Points and Asia miles is to fly into Italy with British Airways after getting yourself to London with BA, Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Qatar, Malaysia Airlines etc.
That’s a little out of scope for this post – although some of the pricing to Milan in the comparison table is valid for flights into London, and then hopping on a BA flight to Amalfi coast, Bari, Bologna, Florence, Genoa, Milan, Naples, Pisa, Rome, Sardinia, Sicily, Sorrento, Turin, Venice or Verona. Phew.
Using Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles to get to Italy with Singapore Airlines or Star Alliance partners
KrisFlyer, Singapore Airlines frequent flyer program, is a partner of most Australian credit card rewards programs as well as being hooked up with Velocity Frequent Flyer as a transfer partner.
Singapore Airlines fly to Rome and Milan from, funnily enough, Singapore. KrisFlyer offers great value redemptions on Singapore Airlines flights.
Here’s the costs for a redemption to Rome or Milan (with no stopover in Singapore) from the cities Singapore Airlines services in Australia in both KrisFlyer miles and Velocity points, if transferred to KrisFlyer.
|Origin||KrisFlyer miles||Velocity Points to KrisFlyer|
|Business Class||First Class||Business Class||First Class|
|Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Cairns||116,000||163,000||179,800||252,650|
All figures above have been updated with KrisFlyer pricing changes effective 16 April 2019.
The two key airline partners for Velocity Frequent Flyer for travel to Europe are Singapore Airlines and Etihad.
As highlighted above, the first option to consider is transferring your Velocity Points to KrisFlyer, to then redeem directly with that program.
Alternatively, you can redeem your Velocity Points through Velocity for travel on Etihad – I did this last year to fly from Geneva (OK, not in Italy, but close) to Sydney via Abu Dhabi in First Class.
Etihad also fly to Rome and Milan, and the pricing for these flights is simple – from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane it’s 139,000 Velocity Points for Business Class and 203,000 for First Class.
Etihad’s redemption charges are fairly expensive though, when using Velocity Points – $205 USD in Business Class and $300 USD in First Class, with the killer being that the charge applies per flight sector, not per booking.
This means that a two-segment flight from Australia to Italy via Singapore would cost an extra $410 USD for Business and $600 USD in First, and that’s just one-way.
From Perth to Rome only, it’s 121,000 Velocity Points in Business Class and 177,000 in First Class.
Once again, full taxes and fees are passed on by Velocity, so you’ll need to budget for those – however they are usually not as hefty as those imposed by Qantas Frequent Flyer and Cathay.
Aim for Premium Economy, Business or First Class flights
As usual you should aim for Premium Economy or higher cabin redemptions to get most value from your points.
All of the mainstream frequent flyer programs in Australia pass on fuel surcharges and taxes on points redemption bookings, which wipes out most of the value of using points if booked in Economy – the $$ copayment that comes with a points redemption is just too high to get good value from the points you use as well.
Sidenote – Skiing in the Dolomites
One of my ‘things’ is skiing… I’ve skied since I was a kid, took a trip to ski in Japan earlier this year, and have spent time skiing in California, New Zealand, France – and an extended stint as a ski guide in Italy. I’m hoping to go back soon.
Dolomites Ski Tours are an Australian ski business who have been operating in the Italian Dolomites for the last 30 years and who I’ve spent many weeks ski guiding with.
The Dolomites has a vast range of connected towns and resorts, with spectacular skiing, scenery and food. I’d thoroughly recommend the skiing and Dolomites Ski Tours if this is your thing too. Tell them I sent you!