The complete guide to flying to London on points and miles

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London has always been one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, but with the historic coronation of King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla set to take place May 6, this year is set to be an extra-special time to visit.

The coronation — which will be held at Westminster Abbey — is the first to take place in the United Kingdom since Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in 1953 and will be a once-in-a-generation moment that will see the city pull out all the stops as the world tunes in to watch.

But it’s not just royal pomp and ceremony you can expect from a visit to London. From some of the best restaurants in the world to fascinating historical sites to a booming theater scene, there’s something for everyone. Better yet, it’s easy for Americans to get to London with nonstop flights from most major and midsize U.S. cities. Some airports — namely, New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) — have nearly hourly flights to London’s various airports.

Flights to London can be expensive, though, especially if you’re coming from the West Coast or a smaller U.S. city. So, let’s look at some of your best options for booking flights to London Town using points and miles.

Looking for a convenient way to see all of your points and miles in one place? Download the free TPG app!

Quick tips for planning a trip to London

SYLVAIN SONNET/GETTY IMAGES

With so many airports, airlines and routes serving Western Europe’s largest city, it’s a different beast than booking other international trips. So before we discuss your booking options, here are a few tips on booking award flights to London.

Search multiple international gateways

Each airline has its own unique hubs where you’ll find the most award availability. If you’re not finding any award space from your home airport, enter just your transatlantic route between London and the hub airports of the airline you plan to fly with.

For example, let’s say you’re collecting United MileagePlus miles. If you can’t find any award seats from your home airport in Philadelphia, search instead for flights from:

You may have to fly yourself to one of these airports first — but it’s still likely to be significantly cheaper than paying for a ticket to London.

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Search all London airports (not just Heathrow)

London is served by multiple airports — and other non-London airports are a moderate drive or train ride to the city. Depending on the airline miles you’re using, you can check all of the following airports if you can’t find available flights.

These are in order of distance from central London:

You can simultaneously search for many of these airports by entering “LON” as your destination airport on the airline website. However, this search will likely exclude Birmingham, Bristol and others.

Flexible points are key

If you’re booking a last-minute trip to London or traveling during peak season, you can often expect to have a much tougher time finding available award seats than had you booked many months in advance. At the time of writing, however, we were able to find reward availability around the coronation dates in May for all the airlines featured below.

If you cannot find available award seats on American or United, there may be some availability on a connecting flight with Air France or KLM.

Therefore, it’s helpful to have transferable rewards such as American Express Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards points on hand. You can convert these points into many different airline miles, giving you far more flexibility than had you been collecting one airline currency.

Related: How (and why) you should earn transferable points

Booking flights to London with points and miles

Now, let’s look at some of the best ways to fly from the U.S. to London’s various airports.

American Airlines AAdvantage

American operates flights to London from most of its hubs. ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Getting to London with American Airlines miles is a piece of cake — but there are some pitfalls you should be aware of.

American Airlines flies nonstop to London from more than 10 U.S. cities. Award seats are usually priced as follows:

  • 22,500 miles in economy (Jan. 10 to March 14 and Nov. 1 to Dec. 14 — otherwise, 30,000 miles).
  • 57,500 miles in business class.

When searching for awards, American Airlines may try to sell you seats on its partner British Airways. However, we don’t recommend booking British Airways flights since you’ll be charged hundreds of dollars in fuel surcharges.

Below are search results on aa.com for a one-way flight between Philadelphia and London. As you can see, you’ll pay 30,000 miles in economy. You’ll pay $5.60 in taxes when flying American Airlines or a whopping $231.20 in taxes when flying British Airways.

AA.COM

You can see which airline operates the flight below the departure and arrival times.

Transfer partners: American Airlines is a transfer partner of:

If you transfer Marriott points in increments of 60,000, Marriott will deposit an extra 5,000 miles into your AAdvantage account. In short, transferring 60,000 Marriott points will earn you 25,000 American Airlines miles.

Alternatively, you can earn AAdvantage miles with a cobranded credit card. One of our favorites is the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®, which currently offers 50,000 miles after you spend $2,500 in the first three months of account opening. Plus, you’ll enjoy perks like a free checked bag on American flights and a $125 flight discount after you spend $20,000 on the card during your cardmember year.

Award searches and availability: You can book flights directly on aa.com.

ANA Mileage Club

You can book United flights to London with ANA miles. JEENAH MOON/GETTY IMAGES

ANA — short for All Nippon Airways — is a Star Alliance member based in Tokyo. Its comprehensive list of airline partners gives you plenty of ways to reach London with ANA Mileage Club miles. You can fly between the U.S. and London for:

  • 55,000 miles round-trip in economy.
  • 88,000 miles round-trip in business class.

Remember that you can only book round-trip flights with ANA miles (no one-way flights are allowed). Stopovers are allowed at the same award price, so you could visit two European cities for the price of one.

Also, be aware of exorbitant fuel surcharges that will appear when flying with some carriers like Austrian, Swiss and Lufthansa. Set your sights on flights operated by Air Canada, TAP Air Portugal, SAS, LOT Polish Airlines and United, as these carriers don’t add high fuel surcharges.

Below is an itinerary between Newark and London in business class for 88,000 miles and $300 on partner United Airlines. That’s not bad, considering round-trip business-class tickets between these two airports sell for more than $3,600.

ANA.CO.JP

Additionally, ANA won’t allow you to book an international flight award within 96 hours of boarding. If you’re leaving before then, you may be able to get around this by booking into the future and then calling ANA to change the dates within 96 hours. Your results may vary. As long as your flights, routes, carriers, etc., remain the same, you shouldn’t be charged any change fees.

Transfer partners: ANA is transfer partner of:

Award searches and availability: To book, go to ana.co.jp. You may have to switch the language from Japanese to English.

ANA sometimes won’t show you all the available options. If you’re struggling to find availability, you can check out either aircanada.com or united.com for seats and then call ANA to book once you’ve found what you’re after.

Related: The best ways to redeem points and miles for flights to Europe

Flying Blue (Air France-KLM)

Book SkyTeam tickets with Flying Blue. ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Flying Blue is a shared loyalty program between Air France and KLM.

Neither of these airlines flies directly between the U.S. and London, but you can route through airports like Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) to reach London. Or, you can fly on partners like Delta and Virgin Atlantic nonstop to get there. There are also plenty of other SkyTeam partners that you can use to reach London.

While Flying Blue doesn’t technically have an award chart, you can usually reach London for around:

  • 25,000 miles one-way in economy.
  • 55,000 miles one-way in business class.

However, you can sometimes find cheaper flights thanks to Flying Blue Promo Rewards. These award sales discount regular fares by up to 50%.

This is another airline that passes along annoyingly high (though not prohibitive) taxes and fees. Below is a one-way flight from New York to London in economy for 22,500 miles and $83.90 in fees.

KLM.COM

Transfer partners: Flying Blue is a transfer partner of all major flexible points currencies:

Award searches and availability: You can book award flights via airfrance.us. You can view monthly calendar availability without entering your travel dates on the search page. Unfortunately, the calendar can sometimes be a bit misleading — so if you’re just not seeing any availability, search day by day.

Related: The ultimate guide to earning and redeeming with Air France-KLM Flying Blue

United Airlines MileagePlus

United operates flights to London from most of its hubs. ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

United Airlines offers plenty of nonstop service from its eight major hubs. You can also use United Airlines miles to fly to London on United’s partner airlines, such as Air Canada, Aer Lingus and TAP Air Portugal.

United charges reasonable fares to London — with no excessive fuel surcharges. Here’s what you can expect to pay:

  • 30,000 miles in economy (sometimes slightly lower).
  • 45,000 in premium economy.
  • 60,000 miles in business class.

Here’s a flight from Boston to London on United Airlines. As you can see, you’ll pay 27,300 miles in economy, plus $5.60 in fees.

UNITED.COM

One of the best features of using United Airlines miles is the number of available seats. United beats much of its competition in this department. Plus, if you have a United Airlines credit card or United elite status, you’ll have access to more United Airlines award space than those without. This can make a big difference.

Transfer partners: United Airlines is a transfer partner of:

Note that you’ll get 10% more miles when transferring Marriott points to United versus other airlines.

Award searches and availability: You can make your searches directly on united.com. It’s one of the most effective sites to search for Star Alliance awards.

Related: How to unlock additional award availability with United Airlines

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Virgin Atlantic is the U.K.’s second-largest airline. ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Virgin Atlantic is based in the U.K. It serves 12 U.S. hubs, so you’ll likely find many award options when booking.

Unfortunately, this airline incurs higher-than-average taxes on its own flights and on its partners like Air France and KLM. Virgin Atlantic makes up for this by offering extremely low award prices.

Below is a nonstop flight between Atlanta and London on Virgin Atlantic. You’ll pay just 12,500 miles (15,000 miles from the West Coast) and $150.30 in taxes and fees. That’s a good deal.

VIRGINATLANTIC.COM

However, booking Virgin Atlantic business-class flights is unreasonable — you can easily drop 67,500 miles and $875 in fees one-way.

It’s worth noting that you can book Delta flights to London for as little as 15,000 points in economy and 47,500 points in Delta One (business class). You will pay similarly exorbitant taxes and fees for these flights (unlike flights to the rest of Europe, which incur extremely small fees).

Also, note that Delta may not release any availability to Virgin Atlantic within 21 days of departure — so if you’re trying to visit London soon, this isn’t a good strategy to bank on

Transfer partners: You can quickly accrue Virgin points by transferring from the following flexible points currencies:

Award searches and availability: You can book directly on virginatlantic.com. Some partners you must call to book (like ANA and Hawaiian Airlines), but that shouldn’t be a problem when flying to London.

Related: How to save thousands of miles on Delta One awards to Europe

Bonus strategy

Hopping between the U.K. and the rest of Europe is usually extremely cheap. Flights from cities like Madrid, Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam, etc., to London can cost around $40 each way — especially if you use a budget airline such as easyJet or Ryanair. However, remember that when flying with these European low-cost airlines, you will often be required to pay extra for checked baggage, which may not always prove cost-effective.

Searching for award flights to other European cities gives you tons more opportunities to find cheap travel across the Atlantic. You can save a bundle on the expensive seats and then hop over to London with cash for $100 round-trip.

Read our post on the best ways to travel to Europe using points and miles.

Bottom line

Those with a healthy stash of transferable points (such as Amex Membership Rewards points, Capital One miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards points, etc.) should have no trouble getting to London for extremely cheap. By converting those rewards into ANA miles, Flying Blue miles, United Airlines miles and more, you can find the perfect seats for your travel goals.

Just be mindful of hefty airfare taxes and fees that sometimes crop up when visiting London.

Additional reporting by Andrew Kunesh and Jordan Waller.

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