Subject: Re: Italy travel
Hello Ziners:

Jim Bardsley has had difficulty redeeming Delta travel miles for a trip to Florence for a first-class trip in October. This underscores the need to make plans many months in advance since airlines really don't like redeeming the points they induce you to collect. We are starting to make plans for our trip next May for this reason.

He specifically asked who had the most flights to Venice and Rome: Alitalia, Air France, or Delta. Perhaps someone else can give a better answer, but I think it is important to note two things about getting to Italy.

The first of these is that many transatlantic flights of these three airlines are what are known as "codeshares". This means they have a cooperative agreement to allow a nominal Delta flight, for example, to also be listed as an Air France of Alitalia flight (I am not sure about all three). This can be an advantage if you have to use a domestic carrier (Delta), which is true when you are flying on federal goverment money. I do this, for example, when I fly to a conference on a federal grant (not that often, but a good example). Personally, I like the food and service on Air France and Alitalia much better than that on Delta (a recent complaint about Alitalia not withstanding). The crux of this point is that I don't think it matters very much, if at all, which airline is used because the number of "nonrev" (non-revenue or frequent flyer miles in airlinespeak) is generally the same since the flights are actually the same.

The second point is that service to Milan Malpensa is probably more frequent than that to Venice, especially when you add in flights though Paris deGaulle and the many other intermediate European cities. You can no longer get nonstop service from Dallas, where I live, to Italy even when paying full fare and "nonrev" flights often involve several stops. For example, last May it took us over 24 hours to get home from Florence.

I am not clear whether he spoke to a Delta international desk representative, which we always have to do and planning a "nonrev" trip takes hours! However, you usually can get it done.

I hope that this oblique answer was useful.

Ira H. Bernstein Dallas, Texas