Air Italy award space is generally quite good, even in premium cabins…but be sure to book in advance.
I tend to be a last-minute type of flyer. I rarely book tickets more than 1-2 days before travel and consequently routinely end up booking award tickets. Unlike revenue space, which tends to go up in price in the final days before travel, cheaper-priced “saver” award inventory often opens at the last possible moment.
But not on Air Italy. Bucking what has become a more conventional trend, Air Italy pulls award space at the last minute, even when multiple seats remain for sale. In fact, Air Italy pulled all award space from a MXP-SFO flight I was monitoring that still showed all 24 seats in business class unassigned. That’s not a perfect indicator of how full a cabin is, but you can bet that there are many unsold seats if not a single seat is assigned.
You can check and book Air Italy space online with British Airways Avios. Pricing and taxes are not cheap, but getting nonstop to Italy during the summer months when other carriers are charging exorbitant “anytime award” pricing still represents a good deal.
Here’s what I have found: Air Italy pulls all award space on North American routes exactly one week before travel. For or better worse, if you know that going in you can plan around it. At first I thought this might just be a British Airways online restriction (like Cathay Pacific, which is also automatically blocked on some routes) but reservation agents also could not see the space.
Air Italy remains a great option for award space between North American and Europe. Just plan on booking it at least one week in advance.