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Alitalia Is Shutting Down — Here's What to Know If You Have a Flight Booked

Travel + Leisure logo Travel + Leisure 8/26/2021 Meena Thiruvengadam
a large passenger jet sitting on top of a tarmac at an airport: Getty Images © Provided by Travel + Leisure Getty Images

The era of Alitalia is over.

Italy's largest airline plans to suspend operations on Oct. 15. No new flights can be booked for travel after that date. Passengers with tickets for flights on or after Oct. 15 are being offered the option to move up their trips or request a full refund, the bankrupt airline said.

Alitalia got its start in 1946, just after the end of World War II. At its peak in the 1990s, more than 25 million passengers boarded its flights annually for destinations including Rome, Milan, New York, and beyond. It was also a favorite of Sophia Loren, who appeared in the airline's ads in the 1960s. But the Italian flag carrier has struggled for years, despite counting another very important passenger among its frequent fliers: the pope.

a large passenger jet sitting on top of a tarmac at an airport: Alitalia is canceling all flights starting Oct. 15. © Getty Images Alitalia is canceling all flights starting Oct. 15.

Gallery: Take flight for a brief history of aviation (StarsInsider)

Four different popes have flown Alitalia for 57 years, visiting more than 171 countries, the Diocese of Brooklyn noted. But the Vatican won't have to struggle to find a new airline after Pope Francis' last trip on Alitalia next month to Hungary and Slovakia.

Italy plans to launch a new flag carrier called ITA on Oct. 15, and the airline is buying all of Alitalia's planes. It doesn't plan to cover them with its own branding, so you won't notice much of a difference at the airport.

It's unclear exactly what ITA's route map will look like, but Politico reported that ITA plans to fly between Italy and New York, Boston, Miami, and Tokyo this year. Additional routes to Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, and Los Angeles are on the agenda for 2022, according to the outlet.

It's not yet clear how ITA plans to integrate Alitalia frequent flier members. The airline has specified travelers with flights after Oct. 15 that were booked with miles could have those miles deposited into their accounts.

Meena Thiruvengadam is a Travel + Leisure contributor who has visited 50 countries on six continents and 47 U.S. states. She loves historic plaques, wandering new streets and walking on beaches. Find her on Facebook and Instagram.

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