Ahh, London – home of the Queen, Big Ben, and the famous Underground. If you’re craving some tea and crumpets, here are five of our favorite mileage programs to use for a trip to London.
The main airport in London for transatlantic flights is Heathrow (LHR). However, London Gatwick (LGW) airport also has some transatlantic service – mostly on low-cost carriers like Norwegian Air, but there are also a handful of flights on British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. (London City airport (LCY) also has one flight to New York on British Airways).
A Note on Taxes and Fees
Flights departing London and most other airports in the United Kingdom are subject to significant departure taxes – approximately $150 for economy flights and $260 for business or first class. For this reason, some people avoid booking premium cabin awards originating in London, preferring to return from a nearby airport like Dublin, Ireland. (Flights that connect through London have significantly lower taxes as long as the connection is less than 24 hours.) However, this also means that award availability from London can be quite good.
Singapore Airlines Krisflyer
Here are the one-way award rates when booking with Singapore KrisFlyer miles:
Economy: 27,500 miles
Business: 65,000 miles
First: 80,000 miles
You can use Singapore miles to book nonstop flights to London on United Airlines from Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, Washington-Dulles, and seasonally from Denver, and on Air New Zealand from Los Angeles, and on Air India from Newark.
You can also use Singapore miles to book flights with connections on other Star Alliance airlines like Air Canada, Austrian, Brussels, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Swiss, and TAP Portugal; however, you may have to pay fuel surcharges when booking flights on other partner airlines — these surcharges can be steep.
To book a flight with Singapore Airlines miles, go to Singapore’s site and select the ‘Redeem Flights’ button, then enter your cities, dates, and other search details.
If there are flights available for the date you selected, you’ll see a table with flight details and mileage costs. Clicking on the button under the number of miles required will show you the total cost in miles and cash for that flight.
How To Earn Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Miles
One of the great things about Singapore Airlines’ Krisflyer program is that you can transfer points from all four major transferable points programs – American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, and the new Marriott rewards program.
However, be careful – Singapore miles expire 36 months after they’re added to your account, regardless of what account activity you’ve had since they were earned. So make sure you’re ready to spend those miles before you transfer them!
Cards to Help You Earn More Singapore KrisFlyer Miles
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of our favorite cards for earning Singapore Airlines miles. You’ll earn 3X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on restaurants and travel and 1X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on all other purchases. Ultimate Rewards can be transferred 1:1 to Singapore miles.
Even though United MileagePlus doesn’t have the cheapest rates to fly to London from the US with miles, they do offer a great award search engine and the ability to avoid paying fuel surcharges on your award flights. Especially if you are interested in a premium cabin redemption, this can save you some serious cash and it might be worth paying extra miles.
Here are the one-way award rates when booking flights with United MileagePlus miles:
United Business: 60,000
Partner Business: 70,000
United First: 100,000
Partner First: 110,000
United has one of the most intuitive and easy to use award booking engines of any airline. You can fly on United to London (LHR) direct from Chicago (ORD), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), Newark (EWR), San Francisco (SFO), Washington DC (IAD), and seasonally from Denver (DEN). You can also fly with connections in other parts of Europe on Star Alliance partner airlines like Swiss, Lufthansa, and Austrian.
How to Earn United MileagePlus Miles
The easiest way to earn United miles is to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to your MileagePlus account. These points transfers are 1:1 and process almost instantly. Alternatively, you can also transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to United. The standard Marriott transfer is 3:1 plus a 5,000-mile bonus when you transfer 60,000 points. However, transfer to United receive a 10% bonus so a transfer of 60,000 Marriott points will yield 27,500 United miles.
Cards to Help You Earn More United MileagePlus Miles
Our favorite cards to earn United Mileage Plus miles are those that earn Ultimate Rewards which can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio to United. The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 2X Ultimate Rewards per dollar spent on restaurants and travel and 1X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
Alaska Airlines has two partners with nonstop flights from the US to London: American Airlines and British Airways. You can also use Alaska Airlines miles to book connecting flights on Icelandair.
Each airline partner has its own pricing, as follows (all prices for one-way flights):
|American Airlines||22,500 – 30,000||NA||57,500||85,000|
|Icelandair||27,500 – 45,000||NA||55,000||NA|
These prices also include a domestic Alaska Airlines flight to get from your home to the international departure city; if you’re using American Airlines to get across the ocean, you can also include domestic American flights as part of your itinerary.
British Airways and Icelandair both have fuel surcharges on their flights, starting at $150 and going much higher (especially on British Airways); flights on American should only have about $19 in taxes and fees on the outbound, with the return costing around $190 for economy and $300 for business. You can also add a stopover in your connecting city for no additional charge.
To book a ticket with Alaska Airlines miles, go to alaskaair.com, check the “Use Miles” box, and enter your cities and dates.
You’ll get an easy-to-navigate grid that shows you flights and pricing for different levels of service, as well as a preview of pricing for nearby dates.
How To Earn Alaska Airlines Miles
If you’re looking to earn Alaska Airlines miles, you have two options: transfer points from the new Marriott rewards program (3 Marriott points turn into 1 Alaska Airlines mile, with a 5,000 mile bonus when you transfer 60,000 points), or earn them with an Alaska Airlines credit card from Bank of America.
Alaska Airlines Personal Credit CardLearn more by visiting our
credit cards page.
Cards to Help You Earn Alaska MileagePlan Miles
Your best bet is probably the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card from Bank of America, which earns 2X Alaska miles per dollar spent on Alaska Airlines purchases and 1X mile per dollar spent everywhere else.
Another option is the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card, which earns 4X Marriott points per dollar spent at restaurants, gas stations, cell phone service, and shipping and 2X points everywhere else; for spending outside the listed categories you’ll get more miles for your dollar with the Alaska Airlines card, but in the bonus categories the Marriott Bonvoy business card has a slight edge.
Alaska Airlines Business Credit CardLearn more by visiting our
credit cards page.
American Airlines AAdvantage
Regardless of whether you’re traveling on an American Airlines flight or one of its partner airlines, flights from the contiguous 48 United States to Europe cost:
Economy: 22,500-30,000 miles (depending on the season)
Business: 57,500 miles
First: 85,000 miles
American operates flights year-round to London from Charlotte (CLT) , Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), New York JFK, Philadelphia (PHL), and Raleigh-Durham (RDU). (Its partner British Airways has non-stop flights from a much wider variety of cities, but as mentioned earlier you’ll pay dearly for those awards in the form of fuel surcharges.) If you don’t live in one of those cities, you can include a domestic flight from your home airport to the international departure city for the same number of miles.
To find award tickets on American Airlines, just go to aa.com, enter your cities and dates, and check the “Redeem Miles” box.
If you want to avoid British Airways flights, click the Advanced Search link and select “American Airlines” under the Airline menu at the bottom of the page.
The search results will come with a calendar view that allows you to select Economy, Business, or First Class. Always go for the “MileSAAver” option – “AAnytime” awards have more availability, but cost substantially more miles. Dates available for the cabin and rate you selected will be highlighted, and you can click “Show Full Calendar” to see a wider variety of dates.
How To Earn AAdvantage Miles
You can transfer miles to American Airlines from the new Marriott rewards program at a rate of 3 Marriott Points = 1 American mile, with a 5,000 mile bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred. You can also earn miles with American Airlines credit cards from Citibank and Barclays.
70,000 miles after $4,000 spend in 4 monthsLearn more by visiting our
credit cards page.
AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard
60,000 AAdvantage miles after first purchaseLearn more by visiting our
credit cards page.
Cards to Help You Earn More AAdvantage Miles
We love the American Airlines Aviator Red card from Barclays. For everyday spend though, the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card offers more bang for your buck, with 2X miles per dollar spent at restaurants and gas stations and 1X mile per dollar spent on all other purchases.
If you’re looking for more miles and a more premium experience, the Citi AAdvantage Executive card gives you and your authorized users unlimited access to the American Airlines Admirals Club lounge network, for a $450 annual fee.
Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard
50,000 miles after $5,000 spend in 3 monthsLearn more by visiting our
credit cards page.
Delta Airlines SkyMiles
Delta has variable pricing for awards for its own flights, which means that award pricing fluctuates depending on demand, the price of revenue tickets, and possibly the phase of the moon. Fortunately, award rates on partner airlines are a bit more stable. You can generally expect to pay a minimum of:
Economy: 25,000 miles
Premium Economy: 55,000 miles
Delta Business: 105,000 miles
Partner Business: 75,000 miles
Round-trip flights are sometimes a better deal: for example, when researching this article, we found economy tickets New York to London for 40,000 miles round trip in January (this can also be better for fuel surcharges as well).
Delta has nonstop flights to London from Detroit, Minneapolis, Portland, and Salt Lake City, and its partner Virgin Atlantic has nonstop flights from Atlanta, Boston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York-JFK, Newark, San Francisco, Seattle-Tacoma, and Washington-Dulles. Both airlines operate nonstop flights from Atlanta, Boston, and New York JFK. You can also use SkyMiles for connecting flights on Air France, Alitalia, and KLM.
To book a flight with Delta SkyMiles, just go to Delta’s site and enter your cities and dates in the search boxes at the top of the screen. Click Advanced Search to indicate that you want to see prices in miles and what class of service you’re looking for. (Economy/Coach is called Main Cabin, Premium Economy is called Premium Select and Business Class is called Delta One – First Class applies only to domestic flights.
This will bring you to a flexible dates calendar that shows prices for three days before and after around the date you searched. If you want to see a broader range of dates, you can select a 5-week matrix under “Calendar View”. It will also give you other filter options to narrow your search.
Selecting a date from the calendar view will bring you to a list of flights to select from.
How To Earn SkyMiles
Delta is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards and the new Marriott rewards program. Points transfer 1:1 from Membership Rewards in 1,000-mile increments, though note that American Express charges an excise tax fee of $0.0006 per point for transfer to US-based programs, with a maximum fee of $99 per transfer. As an example, transferring 30,000 miles would cost $18.
Transfers from Marriott are possible at a rate of 3 points = 1 Delta mile, with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred (and no tax charges).
Cards to Help You Earn More SkyMiles
American Express offers several Delta credit cards (personal and business). However, your best bet for earning more SkyMiles is to use a card that earns Membership Rewards and has useful bonus categories.
Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card
60,000 SkyMiles after $2,000 spend in the first 3 months plus $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase in the first 3 monthsLearn more
There are a lot of options for redeeming miles and points to get to London, and the best one for you will depend on how flexible your plans are, and how many miles you have and are willing to spend. But, no matter where you earn your miles, there’s a way to fulfill your travel dreams!
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