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sep 18 2008

Alitalia deal falls apart! Liquidation is possible

UPDATED Sept. 18, 11:24 ET: The only consortium willing to buy Alitalia has withdrawn its offer, as unions remain unable to agree to a deal, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

Chaos is possible. If you're flying Alitalia, flights may be disrupted or canceled.

Alitalia's home page is listing which flights were canceled yesterday. Transatlantic flights between the U.S. and Italy are not affected so far.

If you've already booked your ticket, what can you do?

If you're flying Alitalia this month, be sure to check with FlightStats.com before you depart to the airport to make sure your flight has not been re-scheduled or otherwise changed.

Consider shipping your luggage. For details on how to do this, see our luggage-shipping report.

Bring the airline's phone number with you (800/223-5730). If you're at the airport when your flight is canceled, call the number while you're walking to the airline counter (and stay on while in line). This two-pronged strategy increases your chance of getting on the next flight.

If flights are canceled and you're unable to rebook an another Alitalia flight, contact a rival airline to see if they are offering any discounted fares for Alitalia ticketholders. You may want to consider hiring the services of a travel agent to identify what deals are available for you, or else call the reservations line of a few major international carriers.

If your flight is canceled, be sure to get proof in writing by paper (at the gate) or by email (at home). If you don't have proof of a cancellation, you're facing an uphill battle if the charge eventually shows up on your credit card bill and you need to dispute it.

Now that you've made a purchase, you're better off relying on your credit card company as back-up protection. If Alitalia shuts down, file a dispute with your credit card company immediately, to get reimbursed. Don't attempt to cancel your tickets now. If Alitalia is reorganized or liquidated, it may take so long for Alitalia to process your refund that your paperwork may be lost. A credit card company will have more leverage to press your case for reimbursement.

Be wary of tight connections. Many international flights between the U.S. and Italy involve connections that need to be made in less than an hour's time. If your itinerary requires you to change planes, you risk being unable to make your onward connection because your first flight may be delayed or canceled due to Alitalia's troubles. Be attentive to the layover time between flights and consider paying a fee to re-book an itinerary with additional time to make any connections.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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