Happy Memorial Day from YWW! I’ll actually be spending the day in the office, but got some beach and family time in earlier in the weekend. As we kick off the summer travel season, let’s all remember the day as one to commemorate those who have fought in battles – both literally and metaphorically.
I didn’t travel this weekend, but my weekend did have a lot of travel planning, as I am preparing for a twelve day sojourn to the Mediterranean at the end of the week. It’s hard to get away from work for that long, so I’ve been trying to get ahead of things. Alas, I’m sure I will end up doing some work on the road. Oh, well. I’ll also try and keep you all posted as to my experiences on the journey!
Since I’ve been so swamped at work, I haven’t really planned much for my trip other than hotels and basic transportation. To that extent, though, the trip is looking to be a pretty cheap one, as I’m spending a lot of points and miles, though I will also be earning back a decent amount of the Priority Club points I’m spending. The trip itself derived from a desire to go to Tel Aviv Pride, as I haven’t been to Israel since 1999, and then barely spent time in Tel Aviv. I imagine I will have a very different experience now from when I spent the summer studying in Israel as a 15 year old.
For all the griping people have about Delta Skymiles (calling them “Skypesos”), there are some great awards available, one of which I built this trip around. In my opinion, Alitalia happens to be one of the most undervalued options for Delta redemptions. While many people associate Alitalia with a state-run, sloppy airline of yore, the airline has really turned a new page over the last several years. One major change is the reconfiguration of most of its long-haul planes (777s and A330s), with lie-flat seats upfront in “Magnifica” business class, as well as a really nice economy plus product. I have flown Alitalia once before in Business Class in the older recliner seats, and it was still an excellent flight. Although the service was curt, to say the least, the food and wine was phenomenal, and I anticipate that hasn’t changed. And most importantly, when I booked this trip in the winter, Alitalia had pretty wide open availability in Business Class on flights to Rome from New York. (It also flies from Boston, Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles.) From Rome, Alitalia flies pretty much all over the world, including multiple daily flights to Tel Aviv.
I’ve actually never been to Italy, so figured I’d spend several days there before continuing on to Israel. Delta’s award routing rules allow stopovers with no extra costs, and all partner awards price out at the “Saver” level, so my EWR-FCO (stop), FCO-TLV, TLV-FCO-JFK flight in business priced out at 120,000 miles. In coach, this routing would have cost around $2,000, so in business class, which would have cost around $9000, I figured it to be a good deal. I tinkered with the idea of trying another airline on the way back, as Delta, Air France, and KLM each had one or nonstop options, but there was availability on Alitalia for the date I wanted, with just a 2 hour layover in Rome – which isn’t particularly out of the way – and it was the most likely to have a lie-flat seat for the long haul flight.
My itinerary is below. Have some tips or thoughts about where I’m going? Let me know!
Day 1: Fly Newark to Rome – Alitalia Business Class – SkyMiles Redemption
Day 2: Arrive Rome; Train to Florence; Day in Florence
Hotel: Montebello Splendid - deal from Skyauction.com
Day 3: Hiking Trip through Cinque Terre, return to Montebello Splendor
Day 4: Train to Rome; Day in Rome
Hotel: Radisson Blu Es. Rome – Best Rate Guarantee, Radisson Stay One Get One Promo
Day 5: Rome
Hotel: Intercontinental de la Ville Rome – Priority Club Redemption (in grace period prior to rate increase)
Day 6: Fly to Tel Aviv – Alitalia Business Class – SkyMiles Redemption
Hotel: Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv – Cash & Points Redemption (prior to price increase)
Day 7-8: Tel Aviv
Hotel: Intercontinental David Tel Aviv – Ambassador BOGO Certificate
Day 9: Tel Aviv
Hotel: Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv – Best Rate Guarantee Free Night
Day 10: Tel Aviv
Hotel: Renaissance Tel Aviv – Marriott Points Redemption
Day 11: Day Trip to Jerusalem
Day 12: Early Morning return to New York via Rome