Since Airberlin went broke last year, Alitalia has been the only Virgin Australia partner airline operating flights within Europe. The Italian flag carrier, which also has ongoing financial difficulties, has been a partner of Virgin Australia and Velocity Frequent Flyer since April 2016.
With hubs in Rome and Milan, Alitalia operates many short-haul flights within Europe as well as long-haul flights to/from Italy. Virgin Australia codeshares on Alitalia’s flights between Abu Dhabi and Italy, and several domestic Italy routes.
Velocity members flying Alitalia can earn Velocity points and status credits, including for flights with an Alitalia “AZ” flight number. It is also possible to redeem Velocity points for Alitalia flights by calling the Velocity Membership Contact Centre. In theory, frequent flyers with Velocity Gold or Platinum status also receive Alitalia lounge access, priority boarding and priority check-in. The latter benefit is extended to Velocity Silver members.
The Virgin Australia website also states that Velocity Silver, Gold and Platinum members receive an additional checked baggage allowance when flying with Alitalia. But the website does not provide any details on this benefit, saying only that “the checked baggage allowance varies according to your fare class and Velocity membership level at the time of travel”. The website provides a link for “further information”, but the linked page does not actually provide any details about baggage allowances with Alitalia.
So, those are the published benefits for Velocity members flying Alitalia. In reality, the benefits aren’t consistently applied. Several Australian Frequent Flyer members have tested out Virgin Australia’s partnership with Alitalia recently. Many felt that going out of their way to fly Alitalia was not worth the effort.
Velocity Gold and Platinum members can access a small selection of Alitalia lounges, with up to 1 guest also permitted. These lounges are available at Rome, New York, Venice, Catania and both airports in Milan (Linate and Malpensa). Unfortunately, numerous AFF members have reported that Alitalia’s lounge staff were unaware of Velocity and refused access to members that should have been entitled to it. One member even reported that lounge access was refused because they were travelling on a domestic Alitalia flight. This refusal would be correct if Virgin Australia was a SkyTeam partner of Alitalia. But it is not, and there is no reference to any such rule on the Virgin Australia website.
Unfortunately, Velocity members have also been unable to use the checked baggage benefit.
Velocity platinum status next to useless at check in. I recently flew Rome – Palermo return. The only way to get my second bag onto the flight was pay the $60 euro charge. No one including supervisors from Alitalia recognised my platinum velocity status. I showed the supervisors the velocity website showing the status benefits inc luggage I should receive with Alitalia they practically laughed at me
We were told that our frequent flyer details were already on the booking, but we would still have to pay for the bag (contrary to the details above). So we paid the EU50 and got a receipt, which I doubt we’ll get around to claiming.
There have also been problems with points and status credits not crediting automatically. (You should receive them eventually if you submit a missing points claim.) Some members have also reported being unable to add their Velocity Frequent Flyer number to Alitalia bookings.
I can’t even add my Velocity number to my booking. This is going to be interesting.
I could add my velocity number (chose velocity from the dropdown)… But under my name on the ticket it says “null 2112518425”. So I don’t expect the points will be credited automatically.
If you are flying with Alitalia and have Velocity status, we recommend taking a printout or screenshot from the Virgin Australia website that clearly states the benefits you are entitled to. If you stand your ground, you’ll usually receive the promised benefits… eventually.
Have you flown Alitalia as a Velocity member? Share your experience on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Alitalia and Virgin, anybody?