For the past 24 hours, this thread on FlyerTalk has been buzzing with excitement about Alitalia’s most recent discount code that gave a flat $315.30 discount off any flight booked up until 10/26/12 on Alitalia’s Japanese website.
For several days, the US, Italian, German, British, Canadian, and Spanish Alitalia websites have been running a promotion that gives a 25% discount on flights booked using the e-Coupon code SPECIAL:
This was a nice upgrade from the 15% off promotion that Alitalia offered in September–covered in Mile Value’s first Forum Buzz post.
More enticingly, the version of the promotion offered on Alitalia’s Japanese website featured a flat discount of 25,000 Yen ($315.30 USD) on Alitalia flights purchased through the site when the e-Coupon code PROMOJP was used:
As you can imagine, a $315.30 discount on a cheap fare results in a very cheap ticket. There were multiple reports of $0.00 (yes, free) intra-Europe flights booked and ticketed successfully using this code!
It’s only been about 24 hours, so I can still jump on this right?
Nope, it’s dead. If you navigate to the Japanese Alitalia page and try to book any flight, you will be faced with this:
Do I have any options apart from banging my head against the wall?
Yes. Console your self with this game: type promo.alitalia.com into your browser. It will automatically redirect to promo.alitalia.com/italy. Delete Italy and start plugging in some countries and see if you come up with something interesting, like this:
It’s another Alitalia flat-rate discount–on its Russian website. At 4,000 Rubles off–$129.38 USD–it is not nearly as lucrative as the Japan deal, but for flights that are $500 or less, this Russian discount is still a better deal than a 25% discount. The discount is valid for travel between 11/5/12 and 3/7/13 with blackout dates of 12/20/12 to 1/6/13.
How do I get in on this?
Use the Google Chrome or Safari browsers as they both have translation functions. Navigate to alitalia.com and change your country to Russia:
On the next screen, direct your browser to translate the website:
You will then have a somewhat normal-appearing Alitalia website, with some quirky translations here and there. Click on Advanced Search to give yourself more flexibility with your flight search options:
Click Find Bargains–to see the cheapest days to fly–then enter your desired flight information. In this example, I want to go from Milan, Italy to Istanbul, Turkey. The airport code FCO–Rome– entered in the “from” box was changed to MXP, for Milan:
If your flight is not bookable–for example, a US domestic flight–you will get this error message:
Keep trying! You may have to get creative with dates and routing. Once you have successfully chosen your preferred segments, you will see this page, which shows 3 weeks of flight availability from the date you chose:
After you select the date that you want to start your trip, you will then be able to select specific flights:
After choosing both flights, you will be presented with a page that confirms the details and price of your reservations. In this example, the pre-discount price is 6644 Rubles– $214.90. Enter the e-Coupon code PROMORU where prompted, and click Recalculate:
Your 4,000 Ruble discount will be subtracted from your ticket price:
This is a pretty sweet deal – I am getting a round trip ticket between Rome and Istanbul for 2644 Rubles–$85.52! On the next page, you will be prompted to enter the passenger details:
You will then be shown the payment screen. If you booked a flight that cost 4,000 Rubles or less and your total after the discount is $0.00 you can enter your contact information, sit back, and smile smugly. If you have to pay for your ticket, be sure to use a credit card with no foreign transaction fees:
After paying (or not), you will end on a confirmation screen with your e-ticket number (beginning with 055) and a six-character alpha-numeric reservation code:
How can I confirm that my $0.00 flight was ticketed?
First, check your email:
It should have a copy of the e-ticket. But, like any canny cheapskate, you want more proof. If you navigate to Alitalia’s site to check your booking you may get an error message. I had the same problem when I tried to confirm my booking on checkmytrip.com.
However, according to this FlyerTalker, you can get confirmation that your flight was ticketed by going to saudiaairlines.com (a SkyTeam partner). Select Manage My Bookings then enter your e-ticket number and name where prompted:
You will see your e-ticket confirmation–as well as the itinerary, and the pre-coupon price of your ticket:
Can I fly anywhere on any SkyTeam airline?
No. Unlike the September 15% off promotion, the only flights available for both the 25% and 4,000 Rubles off promotions have been on Alitalia, not other Sky Team partners like Delta, Air France, or KLM.
So am I guaranteed a seat on that ridiculously cheap flight I just booked?
It seems very unlikely that Alitalia will honor the $0.00 fares, particularly those that originate outside of the US. Even if flights originating in the US are not honored, there is no guarantee that the Department of Transportation will rule in our favor–remember how the United mistake fare of 4 Mileage Plus miles and $43 to Hong Kong turned out? It seems reasonable to expect that they might honor tickets that weren’t too obviously underpriced–bookings for which there was an actual financial transaction. However, there is at least one report of a cancellation from Alitalia because a flight booked from the Japanese website did not originate in Japan.
If I am actually able to check into my $0.00 flight, when should I start requesting upgrades, special meals, and lounge access because of my Delta status?
Just get on the plane. Don’t do anything that could result in unwanted scrutiny of your ticket.
Which deal is better – 25% off or $129.38 off?
Both deals start to match each other for value when the ticket price approaches $500. A $500 ticket will cost $375.00 after a 25% discount and $370.62 after the $129.38 discount. So, for tickets cheaper than $500, book through the Russian website for the flat rate discount as you will get a better deal.
Anything else I should know?
If you plan to make multiple purchases, consider calling your credit card company to let them know that there may be multiple charges from Russia on your card so that the card is not frozen for fear of fraud.
Clear your cookies and cache from your browser after searches if the Alitalia website gets buggy.
Most importantly–don’t do this if you can’t afford to lose the money that you spend to buy these tickets, as there are no guarantees about how refunds will be managed if the tickets are cancelled.
Alitalia is running a worldwide promotion that offers 25% off all Alitalia-operated flights booked on its US website. This strong promotion was overshadowed by the more sensational offer of a flat 25,00 Yen or $315.30 discount once available on Alitalia’s Japanese website. This offer has been pulled.
However, there is a less-publicized discount of $129.38 on Alitalia’s Russian website which makes it possible to fly on Alitalia for free or very cheaply on lower cost routes. The PROMORU discount is a better deal than the 25% discount for fares $500 or less. Both the 25% and $129.38 discounts are available for use until 10/26/12, and are valid for travel dates between 11/5/12 and 3/7/13. The blackout dates are from 12/20/12 to 1/6/12.