The Best Airlines to Fly to Italy According to Travelers!

The Best Airlines to Fly to Italy According to Travelers!

When you daydream about Italy – and let’s face it, everyone daydreams at some point in their life about Italy – what do you envision? Perhaps you imagine yourself in a gondola floating through the grand canal in Venice. Maybe you see yourself exploring the Colosseum in Rome. Possibly, you are dining in a little trattoria on delicious, fresh, hand-made pasta while sipping a lovely, local wine. Whatever you dream about when you think about Italy, it’s only a dream. Nothing can compare to actually being in Italy.

The sights, sounds, and smells of the country are unique, awe-inspiring, and breathtaking all at the same time. The personal interactions with the local inhabitants are interesting, confusing, and educational. You cannot experience any of it, however, unless you GO TO ITALY! So, what are you waiting for?

Facts About Italy

Italy has a population of approximately 59.3 million people. The capital city is Rome and they use the Euro for currency. The official language is Italian but many people, especially in the larger cities, speak English very well. Be a thoughtful traveler though and learn a few key phrases. The locals will appreciate your effort!

The best time to visit depends on you. July and August are the peak summer months and attract the most visitors. The temperature will be higher, so it pays to remember that Europeans do not have air conditioning as extensively as we do in the United States. If you are okay with crowds and being hot, summer would be an ideal time to visit.

Italy’s low season starts in November and runs through March. The temperature is cooler, and the crowds are much smaller. You will have an easier time getting up close and personal with The Last Judgement and stand in a much shorter line to visit the Duomo.

Flying to Italy

Getting to Italy will vary depending on where you live. Ignoring everyone who is lucky, and close, enough to drive or take the train, let’s concentrate on those of us who need to fly to get from where we live to Italy, the land of daydreams.

Air Travel Statistics

According to the Italian Civil Aviation Authority, Italy received approximately 164 million passengers in 2016[i] – and that number is steadily growing!

What are the international airports in Italy?

Italy has two main intercontinental airports which will transport you direct from certain US cities.

  • Rome Fiumicino, Leonardo DaVinci Airport – Rome Fiumicini served nearly 43 million air passengers in 2018.
  • Milan Malpensa Airport serves more than 24 million air passengers annually.

There are a number of additional international airports located in Italy to which you can fly a connecting flight so check to see which airport services your desired destination:

  • Pescara Abruzzo International Airport is located four kilometers from the center of Pescara.
  • Orio al Serio International Airport, also known as Il Caravaggio International Airport, is the third busiest airport in Italy and located 3.7 kilometers southeast of Bergamo.
  • Federico Fellini International Airport is located at Miramare, approximately five kilometers from Rimini.
  • Naples International Airport is located six kilometers northeast of Naples.
  • Venice Marco Polo Airport is located on the mainland approximately eight kilometers north of Venice.
  • Bari Karol Wojtyla International Airport, named after Pope John Paul II, is located eight kilometers northwest of Bari.
  • International Airport of Umbria, also known as Perugia San Francesco d’Assisi Airport, is located near Perugia.
  • Turin Cuneo International Airport is also called the Cuneo Levaldigi Airport and is located near Turin.
  • Rome Ciampino Giovan Battista Pastine Airport is also located near the city of Rome.
  • Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport is located approximately six kilometers northwest of Bologna.
  • Cagliari Elmas Airport is located near Cagliari on the island of Sardinia.
  • Forli International Airport, also known as Luigi Ridolfi Airport after the Italian aviator, is located in Forli and serves the city of Bologna.
  • Pisa International Airport, also known as Galileo Galilei Airport, is located near the town of Pisa.

There are a number of additional local and regional airports which can be connected to from the airports listed above.

Which Airlines Fly to Italy?

You have a wide range of airline choices to fly to Italy from the United States. Your best deal will vary based on where you live and your closest international airport.

If you would like to fly direct from the United States to Italy, here are your options:

  • Delta Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • Norwegian Airlines
  • Alitalia
  • Air Italy
  • Emirates Airline

If you are comfortable with layovers or non-direct flights, here are additional options:

British Airways

China Eastern

Lufthansa

Condor Flugdienst

Air France

LATAM Airlines Brasil

Air Canada

Aerolineas Argentinas

Iberia Airlines

LOT

Swiss International Airlines

Ethiopian Airlines

Turkish Airlines

Icelandair

Aer Lingus

China Southern

Qatar Airways

Air India

JetBlue

Ukraine International

Austrian Airlines

SATA

Aeroflot

Royal Jordanian

Korean Air

EgyptAir

TAP Air Portugal

China Airlines

Brussels Airlines

Norwegian Air UK

Cathay Pacific Airways

Saudia

SAS Airlines

Air Servia

Air China

Czech Airlines

EL AL Israel Airlines

Virgin Atlantic

Etihad Airways (UAE)

Air Transit

Air Europa

Thomas Cook Airlines

Asiana Airlines

Kurwait Airways

Eurowings

Hainan Airlines

Royal Air Maroc

Tui Fly

Singapore Airlines

Uzbekistan Airways

Which US Cities Have Direct Flights to Italy?

City

Rome

Milan

Approx Flight Time (in hours)

Annual Passengers (in millions)

International Destinations

Atlanta (ATL)

Y

Y

10

107

75

Boston (BOS)

Y

8

41

56

Chicago (ORD)

Y

9.5

83

63

Dallas (DFW)

Y

10.333

11.7

62

Los Angeles (LAX)

Y

Y

12

87.5

84

Miami (MIA)

Y

Y

10

45

62

New Jersey (EWR)

Y

Y

8.66

46

56

New York (JFK)

Y

Y

8.5

59

79

San Francisco (SFO)

Y

12

56

49

Atlanta

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) is the busiest airport in the world and a global gateway. ATL serves 107 million passengers annually and offers nonstop service to 75 international destinations. There are direct flights to Italy on Delta and Alitalia which last approximately ten hours.

Boston

General Edward Lawrence Logan Boston International Airport (BOS) is the largest airport in Massachusetts and the New England region. BOS serves nearly 41 million passengers annually and offers nonstop service to 56 international destinations. There are direct flights to Italy on Norwegian, Alitalia, and Delta which last approximately eight hours.

Chicago

O’Hare International Airport in Chicago (ORD) serves 83 million passengers annually. ORD offers nonstop service to 63 international destinations. There are direct flights to Italy on American, Alitalia, British Airways, United, and Delta which last approximately 9.5 hours.

Dallas

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) serves 11.7 million passengers annually. DWF offers nonstop service to 62 international destinations. There are direct flights to Italy on American which last approximately 10.333 hours.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) serves more than 87.5 million passengers annually. LAX offers nonstop service to 84 international destinations. There are direct flights to Italy on Norwegian, Alitalia, and Delta which last nearly twelve hours.

Miami

Miami International Airport (MIA), historically known as Wilcox Field, serves more than 45 million passengers annually. MIA offers nonstop service to 62 international destinations. There are direct flights to Italy on Alitalia which last approximately ten hours.

Newark

Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) serves more than 46 million passengers annually. MIA offers nonstop service to 56 international destinations. There are direct flights to Italy on United which last approximately 8.66 hours.

New York

John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) serves nearly 59 million passengers annually. JFK offers nonstop service to 79 international destinations. There are direct flights to Italy on Alitalia, American, and Delta which last approximately 8.5 hours.

San Francisco

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) serves nearly 56 million passengers annually. SFO offers nonstop service to 49 international destinations. There are direct flights to Italy on Air Italy which last approximately 12 hours.

Many of these cities have direct flights utilizing code sharing and partnership agreements with other airlines.

What are the Best Airlines to Fly to Italy?

You have a lot of choices for flying to Italy. For me, the best flight will ALWAYS be direct and non-stop, so I’m going to focus only on those airlines that fly direct from the United States to Italy.

Delta Airlines

“Keep Climbing” is the slogan for Delta Airlines.

Delta started out as an aerial crop-dusting operation which was called Huff Daland Dusters in 1924. It is now one of the world’s largest global airlines, serving more than 180 million travelers annually.

They are a customer-focused organization whose mission statement is:

We – Delta’s employees, customers, and community partners together form a force for positive local and global change, dedicated to bettering standards of living and the environment where we and our customers live and work.

Delta Airlines has core values that are rooted in a goal to find diversity and promote inclusion, for both customers and employees.  They define sustainability through innovative business practices that minimize the environmental impacts of operations and promote health, welfare, and productivity. Delta strives to reduce their impact on the environment to improve the sustainability of the planet and their business. They are improving their fuel-saving measures with more efficient planes and streamlining operations. Delta also partners with The Nature Conservancy to help stop deforestation and advocate for alternative energy.

Additionally, Delta is rolling out a uniform language bar to be worn under nametags which indicate if a team member is able to communicate in over 300 different sign languages.

Delta is headquartered in Atlanta and offers service to 300 plus destinations in 52 countries on six continents. This translates to more than 15,000 daily flights. They employ more than 80,000 employees worldwide and have a fleet of more than 800 aircraft.

Delta is a founding member of the SkyTeam global alliance and has many joint ventures with worldwide alliance partners.

Delta’s frequent flyer rewards program is a loyalty program called SkyMiles. Every trip and every purchase earn miles toward travel. You can join the program for free and miles earned never expire. A Delta Skymiles credit card you earn miles with every eligible purchase. You can also earn miles with 20+ partner airlines and on the ground with hotels, car rentals, ridesharing, shopping, and dining partners.

Main Cabin amenities include complimentary premium entertainment and exceptional service.

  • Delta Studio provides inflight entertainment which you can watch on your personal device seatback screen where available. Delta Studio includes films, music, games, television shows.
  • There are complimentary headphones on international flights.
  • Savor a complimentary snack on every flight of more than 250 miles.
  • Drink Starbucks coffee, Coca-Cola products, juices, hot tea, or water.
  • Discover beer, wines, and a wide variety of alcoholic beverages for passengers over 21.
  • Enjoy a complimentary meal on international flights with complimentary beer, wine, and spirits.

Fortune Magazine has recognized Delta as one of the Top 50 Most Admired Companies and the most admired airline.

United Airlines

“Fly the Friendly Skies” is the slogan for United Airlines.

United Airlines can trace its roots to Varney Air Lines which was founded in 1926 in Boise, Idaho. In 2010, United and Continental Airlines merged their operations.

United Airlines mission statement is:

Our mission is to create an inclusive work environment, characterized by dignity and respect, that empowers every employee to serve the global marketplace and contribute to our success.

United believes in “Connecting People. Uniting the World,” and have implemented improvements to build a great experience. They operate approximately 4,900 flights daily to 356 airports across five continents. In 2018, United served more than 1.7 million flights and 158 million passengers. They also employ more than 88,000 people.

United has committed to a number of important social causes:

  • Environment
  • Carbon offset program
  • Community involvement
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Human trafficking awareness
  • LGBT outreach
  • Charitable partnerships

United’s environmental strategy is focused on operational fuel efficiency and investments in low-carbon alternative fuels. They have converted to paperless flight decks and utilize iPads to replace paper operating manuals, navigation charts, flight checklists, handbooks, log books, and weather information. United partners with Clean the World to repurpose unused hygiene products from premium-class amenity kits for those in critical need. This helps prevent hygiene-related deaths and promotes handwashing. They also partner with Audubon International to protect raptors in and around New York airports and resettle the birds of prey to more suitable habitats.

United is a founding member in the Star Alliance with 28 member airlines – the world’s largest airline alliance. Their frequent flyer rewards program is called MileagePlus and you can earn miles through flights, daily activities, trips, experiences, dining, and more.

Amenities on United international flights include:

  • United Private Screening with main screen, seatback, and personal device services offer DIRECTV with over 100 channels of movies and television shows.
  • Audio entertainment featuring exclusive programming, curated music videos, and music.
  • WiFi available to purchase
  • Complimentary soft drinks, juices, tea, coffee, house beer, and wines.
  • Meal service featuring a three-course meal
  • Mid-flight snack on flights longer than 12 hours
  • Alcohol available to purchase

American Airlines

American Airlines slogan is “Great is what we’re going for.”

Charles Lindbergh flew the first American Airlines flight on April 15, 1926. He was carrying US mail from St. Louis, Missouri to Chicago, IL. After eight years of flying mail routes, the airline started to develop into what it is today and switched revenue from mail to passengers. American Airlines was formed in 1930 with a union of more than 80 small airlines.

American Airlines mission statement is:

AMR Corporation is committed to providing every citizen of the world with the highest quality air travel to the widest selection of destination possible.

American strives for its workforce to represent a diverse world that puts employees first and encourages people to share their different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences. They believe this enriches work culture, business strategy, and decision-making.

American is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. They operate nearly 6,700 lights per day to approximately 350 destinations in more than 50 countries. They serve an average greater than 500,000 passengers daily and employ nearly 130,000 people.

They are a founding member of Oneworld Alliance. American launched their frequent flyer program called AAdvantage in 1981 and it is the largest frequent flyer program with more than 67 million members in 2011. Members accumulate miles through flights on American and Oneworld Alliance partner airlines and purchases on AAdvantage credit cards. Members can use miles for:

  • Tickets
  • Upgrades in service
  • Free or discounted car rentals
  • Hotels
  • Merchandise
  • Partner products

American’s social responsibility platforms include ethical governance, commitment to diversity and inclusion, and a focus on safety and the environment. They strive to make a positive impact in the lives of their customers, employees, and shareholders as well as the communities where they live, work, and play. American has a wastewater treatment plant that recycles the water used to wash aircraft and irrigate the landscape. There is a bar code system that is used to track and reduce hazardous waste.

Amenities on American Airlines include:

  • Free soft drinks and snacks
  • Entertainment on screen or your personal device
  • WiFi available to purchase

Norwegian Airlines

“World’s best long-haul, low-cost airline” is the slogan for Norwegian Airlines and their vision is “Affordable fares for all.”

Norwegian Airlines was founded in 1993 but only started operating as a low-cost carrier in 2002.

Their goals are:

  • Affordable fares for all
  • Be the preferred airline
  • Sustainability

They have set priorities on safety, simplicity, and service. Norwegian has aligned their values of innovation, teamwork, and simplicity along with how people tend to perceive the country of Norway.

Norwegian endeavors to be a good corporate citizen and operate responsibly, ethically, and sustainably with respect for people, the environment, and society. They understand that global expansion helps boost local tourism, creates new jobs, and drives economic growth and social progress.

Norwegian strives to support sustainable environmental policy and reduce emissions from aviation due to jet fuel consumption. They have a desire to create economic and social value to be good corporate citizens. Norwegian fosters a responsible people culture to create a good working environment and sound corporate culture of openness and tolerance.

Norwegian employs approximately 11,000 dedicated staff. They fly around 500 routes to more than 150 worldwide destinations. Since 2002, Norwegian has carried more than 250 million passengers.

Norwegian Airlines loyalty program is called Norwegian Reward and it is free to join. You earn CashPoints by flying, staying at a hotel, or shopping with a partner or services such as car rental, tours, and airport transfers. You spend your CashPoints to pay for Norwegian flights with no blackout dates. You can also get benefits like CashPoint Boosts, free checked baggage, and free seat reservation after six flights.

Amenities on Norwegian international flights include:

  • Seatback entertainment system with video on-demand movies and television shows as well as games, 3D interactive map, and destination information
  • Order snacks and drinks from the seatback touch screen
  • Device charging ports and international outlets

Norwegian Airlines are known affectionately as “Red Nose” due to all of their aircraft having a painted red nose. Aircraft tail fins feature a portrait of an inspirational hero. Norwegian taught air travelers in Norway how to book their flights online and has been named the most fuel-efficient airline on transatlantic routes.

Alitalia

The slogan for Alitalia is “Dream it, live it.” The name, Alitalia, means wings of Italy.

Alitalia operated its first flight from Turin to Rome on May 5, 1947. That same year, it made its first international flight from Rome to Oslo. The airline started serving hot meals in 1950 and became one of the most preferred carriers by international travelers. They launched MilleMiglia, their rewards program, in 1991-1992. Alitalia joined the SkyTeam Alliance in 2001.

Alitalia strives to be responsible which means valuing the company, people, customers, country, and environment. They are committed to making a daily effort to do a good job, respect the ethical principles of fairness and transparency, and to take part in sustainability.

The company’s goals are to:

  • Be sustainable by creating value for their stakeholders
  • Be responsible by giving value to the dignity of people, society, and the environment

Alitalia recognizes corporate social responsibility as a core value and fosters global economic, social, and cultural development by contributing to the promotion of tourism and the mobility of people and goods.

Alitalia works in partnership with NGOs and civil society organizations. They encourage their employees to engage on social issues through Alitalia Onlus which has established orphanages and schools in less fortunate worldwide locations.

Alitalia has established corporate policy with regards to climate change, fuel consumption, and noise reduction. They have developed specific products to enhance their customers’ experiences:

  • Ethical fares offers discounted rates to patients traveling for health reasons
  • Safety Card for blind passengers
  • Voglia di Volare (Want to Fly) program for passengers with flight anxiety
  • Special assistance for passengers with reduced mobility

Alitalia flies to 95 destinations in 44 countries. They have 556 daily departures and serve 21.8 million passengers annually.

MilleMiglia is the name of Alitalia’s frequent flyer program. Members can join for free and accrue miles flying on Alitalia and SkyTeam member airlines. You can also earn status miles to qualify you for different SkyTeam tiers like Elite and Elite Plus.

Some of the amenities you can expect on Alitalia international flights:

  • Simply Connect to make phone calls, send texts, and access the internet.
  • Complimentary WiFi to access 80 movies, 100 music compilations, 100 television programs, 28 interactive games, 35 kids’ programs, and two sports and news lives channels

Air Italy

The slogan for Air Italy is “Imagine the world differently.”

Air Italy was formed in February 2018 when Meridiana and a charter subsidiary called Air Italy merged. It is headquartered in Olbia and established a hub at Milan Malpensa Airport.

Air Italy has a primary goal to make every flight a positive experience for their customers. The Commitment explains their policies and they have implemented detailed training programs to support their staff in pursuit of this goal. The following details how they address customer service:

  • Advise passengers about the lowest available fares.
  • Notify customers about known delays, diversions, and cancellations.
  • Deliver baggage on time.
  • Allow cancellation of reservations for a defined period after purchase.
  • Provide ticket refunds promptly.
  • Accommodate all passengers with disabilities.
  • Treat passengers fairly and consistently in the event of over-sales.

Air Italy operates 21 year-round and 5 seasonal destinations on four continents. Their goal is to fly more than 50 year-round routes by the year 2022.

Air Italy’s frequent flyer program is call @MyAirItalyClub. Customers earn Avios points from Air Italy flights. Avios points can be redeemed on Air Italy and with partner airlines British Airways and Iberia. Avios points can also be used with partner car rentals, hotel stays, subscriptions, and more.

Amenities available on international Air Italy flights include:

  • In-flight entertainment with seat-back television screens featuring complimentary movies, television shows, and music in both Italian and English.
  • USB charging ports at every seat.
  • In-flight WiFi for purchase.
  • A complimentary meal, drinks service, and snacks are served.
  • A selection of fine wines and various alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

Emirates Airline

Emirates slogan is “Fly Emirates. From Dubai to destinations around the world. Keep discovering; Hello tomorrow; Fly better.

Emirates Airline was founded in 1985 by the royal family of Dubai. The first flight was from Dubai to Karachi, Pakistan. Emirates grew rapidly with partnerships and investments. As always, their goal is quality, not quantity. In 1992, Emirates became the first airline to install video entertainment systems in all seats in all classes in their fleet. They were first to introduce telecommunications in all three classes of service and implemented an on-flight fax facility in 1994.

Emirates Airline flies to over 155 destinations in more than 80 countries and six continents worldwide. More than 1,500 Emirates flights depart Dubai each week

Emirates Airline is committed to improving their environmental performance. The cornerstones of Emirates operations are sustainability and eco-efficiency. This has led to the development of eco-efficient technology in engines, aircraft, and ground equipment.

They are also committed to reducing the company’s carbon footprint and reducing emissions with their aircraft. In 2013, Emirates launched A Greener Tomorrow to support not-for-profit organizations.

Emirates believes that airlines can play a significant role in disrupting the supply chain of the illegal wildlife trade. They have partnered with United for Wildlife which has unified the efforts of leading wildlife organizations

Emirates provides philanthropic and humanitarian service for children in need. They aim to improve the quality of life for children regardless of political, religious, or geographical boundaries.

Emirates Skywards is the frequent flyer program for Emirates Airline. You may accrue miles on airline trips and from their partners in hospitality, car rentals, lifestyle, finance, and retail. There are two types of miles in the Emirates program:

  • Skywards Miles – earned on flights, promotions, and partner offers
  • Tier Miles – earned when you fly on Emirates or flydubai

Amenities on Emirates Airline include:

  • Taste the flavors of your destination with a regionally-inspired meal.
  • Enjoy over 4,500 channels and choose from live sports, over 1,000 of the latest movies, and music for everybody.
  • All aircraft have free WiFi and in-seat power ports.
  • Complimentary beverages.

Condé Nast rated Emirates #2 of the Best International Airlines 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards.[ii]

Conclusion

You have a lot of decisions to make about your next trip to Italy. I always try to fly direct, or it that’s not available or cost-effective, no more than one stopover. I have flown to Europe on many of the airlines listed above and have never had a horrible flight. The best trip I ever took to Italy, however, started and ended with Emirates Airline. From the ease of boarding to the meals, and in-flight entertainment, it was a truly pleasurable experience. They also frequently have fare sales, so sign up for their emails and try them out. In fact, if you’re planning a trip to Italy, you should sign up for alerts from all the direct flight carriers above and determine which works best for your home location and your desired destination. Be the envy of your friends when you return and talk about your Italian vacation. It’s a big world out there – travel, experience, enjoy!

Further read:

Tammy Wunsch

Tammy Wunsch loves wine, vineyards, and travel. Her blog, ExpatWriter.com, prominently features these three topics, as well as information about living the digital nomad life. Tammy is the author of "The Navarre Brotherhood," an adventure novel about a search for the Knights Templar treasure. She lives in the Quiet Corner of Connecticut and spends her free time working on a sequel, planning her next trip, and seeking out new wines to share with friends
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