Italians and Italophiles alike are well aware of the trouble Alitalia has had over the years – facing bankruptcy multiple times, getting propped up by the government, not to mention the airline’s abysmal record on things like lost luggage and flights being late. So even though Italy die-hards might prefer to see the national Italian airline stand on its own two feet, the recent announcement that Alitalia is joining forces with Delta Air Lines and the Air France–KLM union should be music to the ears of travelers.
This new airline network, consisting of Delta, Air France, KLM, and now Alitalia, will now be the “world’s largest transatlantic network” and will allow travelers to book trips on any combination of the four carriers through one system. Additionally, this means that Rome will now be a hub for the already formidable European hub list that KLM-Air France has. It puts Rome alongside major hub cities like Paris and Amsterdam, which – one hopes – will make it easier to find cheap flights to Italy in the future.
As it stands now, many travelers to Italy are forced to try to find cheap airfare by flying into a completely different country and then getting a second flight on a budget carrier into Italy, simply because flights to Italy are often so much more expensive. The trouble is that even though, say, flights to England might be cheaper than airfare to Rome, you may still be stuck needing to find a place to stay in an extremely expensive country for a night either at the start or the end of your trip – or both. And even cheap London hotels aren’t always all that cheap. Besides, it’s just much more efficient to fly to the country you want to be traveling in rather than fly to a completely different country and waste vacation time in transit. (Because even if you walk into the Italian Embassy London, it’s not the same as visiting Italy.)
It’s not clear yet whether this new union will result in cheaper flights to Italy, but at the very least it will result in more convenient booking options, and that’s nothing to sneeze at. Alitalia’s website says that there will be 20 direct daily flights to Rome and Milan from five U.S. cities (New York, Miami, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles) as a result of this partnership, and nearly 250 daily flights to and from Italy altogether.
Now if Alitalia could just get their act together on the lost luggage thing, we’d really have something to celebrate…
photo from Alitalia website