I Found My New Best Friend Traveling to London: Part 2 – Flights to London

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Emily:   I love to travel, and my mom does, too!

When I was growing up in Ohio, we could only afford road trips to local amusement parks.  But collecting miles and points has opened up a whole new world of travel neither of us thought possible!

She and I decided to go to London and Paris for a mother-daughter getaway.  We flew Business Class and stayed in 5-star hotels.  I paid for this trip for a fraction of the retail cost by using airline miles and hotel points.

I’ve never traveled so long with my mom before, and at the end of the trip, I felt like I had a new best friend!  Without the miles & points hobby, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to experience the joy of traveling with my mom.

I Found My New Best Friend Traveling To London Part 2 Flights To London

Flying to England Like Royalty

In this series, I’ll show you how you can get to Europe, too!

I Found My New Best Friend Traveling to London Trip Report Index:

Our British Airways Flight to London

My mom loves adventures, and was very excited to escape the cold and snow of Michigan!  She flew to Austin, Texas, to stay with me a few days before our flight.

We then flew from Austin to London on British Airways in Business Class for 250,000 British Airways Avios points and ~$1,800 in fuel surcharges.  I used the Travel Together ticket from the Chase British Airways card to add my mom as my companion.  However, we had to pay the taxes and fees for her ticket, so it wasn’t a spectacular value.

I Found My New Best Friend Traveling To London Part 2 Flights To London

My Mom Hadn’t Been to England Before and I Couldn’t Wait to Show Her Around!

On this particular trip, we continued our journey to India and stayed one week there.  On our return flight back to the US, we had a free stopover in London for 10 days!  This gave us plenty of time to see both London and Paris.

I Found My New Best Friend Traveling To London Part 2 Flights To London

Our Imminent Trip Really Sunk in When We Saw Our Flight on the Airport Monitor

British Airways Business Class

We flew in Business Class, and felt like queens!  The seats were spacious and comfortable.

I Found My New Best Friend Traveling To London Part 2 Flights To London

I Booked 2 Business Class Seats Next to Each Other, So We Could Spend as Much Time as Possible Together

We received blankets, amenity kits, and headphones.

I Found My New Best Friend Traveling To London Part 2 Flights To London

I Like Saving Amenity Kits From Each of My Business Class and First Class Flights as a Reminder of My Trips

It made me so happy to be able to share miles with my mom!

I Found My New Best Friend Traveling To London Part 2 Flights To London

Business Class Wasn’t Necessary – But I Loved Going All-Out for Mom 🙂

Shortly after takeoff, we were served dinner.  The meals on the flights were pretty tasty.

I Found My New Best Friend Traveling To London Part 2 Flights To London

I Always Feel Pampered When I’m Handed a Menu on a Plane

I ordered the Tomato and Buffalo Mozzarella with Basil Pesto and Balsamic Glaze as my appetizer.

I Found My New Best Friend Traveling To London Part 2 Flights To London

A Simple Meal With Great Presentation

For my main course, I asked for the Mushroom Risotto with Fava Beans and Baby Spinach.  I have a severe fish allergy so try to be extra safe on trans-Atlantic flights!

I Found My New Best Friend Traveling To London Part 2 Flights To London

Better Safe Than Anaphylactic

My mom got the Braised Beef Bordelaise with Polenta and Roasted Root Vegetables.

I Found My New Best Friend Traveling To London Part 2 Flights To London

Everything Tasted Great (Though Not as Good as the Menu Makes It Sound)

After dinner, the airline kept snacks handy.  Whenever you wanted, you could get a treat or two.

I Found My New Best Friend Traveling To London Part 2 Flights To London

I Grabbed an Assortment to Share With My Mom

I love flying these jumbo jets.  And sharing the experience with my mom made it all the more fun!

I Found My New Best Friend Traveling To London Part 2 Flights To London

Our British Airways 747

Connie:   I really enjoyed the flight on British Airways.  The cabin was roomy where we walked around to get snacks when we wanted.  The seats were comfortable and converted into a bed.  It was a bonus to see the flight path on my personal video screen along with the option to watch videos during flight.  The food selection was great and delicious and the flight attendants treated us like royalty!  I never imagined the joy of flying First Class.

Emily:   We actually flew Business Class, but my mom was so blown away by the experience that she thought it was First Class! 🙂

Our Flights to London

 One Round-Trip Business Class Ticket from Austin to LondonOne round trip ticket from Traverse City, MI to Austin, Texas for MomIntercontinental London Park Lane
Retail Cost~$3,700~$360$370 per night
Our Cash Cost~$900$11.20 in taxes & fees$70 per night
Miles & Points Used125,000 British Airways Avios points20,000 Delta miles50,000 IHG Points per night
- Chase IHG anniversary free night
Source of Miles & Points- Chase British Airways Card
Current sign-up bonus of 50,000 British Airways Avios points
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
- Current sign-up bonus of 30,000 Delta miles
Chase IHG Card
- Current sign-up bonus of 60,000 points
Alternatives- American Airlines
- 45,000 miles round-trip between November 1 and December 14, and January 10 and March 14) + ~$5 in taxes
- United Airlines
- 30,000 miles one-way + ~$5 in taxes
- American Airlines
- 25,000 miles round-trip + ~$5 in taxes
- Stay at Hyatt on points or free night certificates!
- Chase Hyatt
Current sign-up bonus of 2 free nights at any Hyatt
- Chase Sapphire Preferred
Current sign-up bonus of 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
Current sign-up bonus of 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points
Additional Information- You can transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to British Airways at a ratio of 1:1
- You can transfer Starwood points to American Airlines at a ratio of 1:1
- You can transfer Starwood points to American Airlines at a ratio of 1:1- You can transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt and IHG at a ratio of 1:1

We used British Airways Avios points to fly to London.  But we ended up paying a lot in fuel surcharges.  There are other ways to get to London on miles & points, though!

To avoid expensive fuel surcharges, you can use American Airlines miles.

If you haven’t already, sign-up for and log into your American Airlines account.  Then, click on the “Redeem Miles” checkbox to find flight availability using miles.

I Found My New Best Friend Traveling To London Part 2 Flights To London

American Airlines Usually Decent Coach and Business Class Availability

However, be aware of those pesky British Airways fees!  American Airlines will pass along the fuel surcharges if you fly on a British Airways plane.  I always un-check British Airways operated flights when I search for award flights, so I won’t pay fuel surcharges.

Miles redeemed for flights on British Airways are usually only worth it for Business Class or First Class.  Here are some ways to avoid British Airways flights when you search for award seats using American Airlines miles!

After you choose the most preferable flights, the price is displayed in miles and the cash for fees.  45,000 miles and ~$174 is a great price to Europe!

I Found My New Best Friend Traveling To London Part 2 Flights To London

~$174 in Fees Is Bearable. But If I Had Chosen a Flight Operated by British Airways, the Fees for Flying From Austin to London Were $725!

Note:   It could also be worth using an award booking service to book the flights for you if award seats are hard to find, or if your route is complicated.

You Can Do It, Too!

We used British Airways Avios points to fly to London.  But we ended up paying a lot in fuel surcharges.  And we stayed at the Intercontinental London Park Lane.

But there are cheaper ways to get to London on miles & points!  And plenty of options for hotel award stays.

Here are my top recommendations for booking award flights to London.  And some ideas for where to stay!

Flights

1.   American Airlines

Using American Airlines miles to get from the US to Europe costs:

  • 30,000 miles one-way in coach (22,500 miles between November 1 and December 14, and January 10 and March 14) + taxes & fees
  • 57,500 miles one-way in Business Class + taxes & fees
  • 85,000 miles one-way in First Class + taxes & fees

Note:   Make sure you don’t fly on British Airways planes, because American Airlines will pass along the fuel surcharges!  Try to cross the ocean on an American Airlines or Air Berlin plane.

It’s easier to earn American Airlines miles than you might think!  Right now, Citi American Airlines credit cards are offering:

Redeeming American Airlines miles is simple, too.  Look for flights on your desired dates by logging into either your American Airlines account.  Make sure you click on “Redeem Miles” and then Show Full Calendar” for the fewest number of miles needed if your dates are flexible.

Check out my guide on how to book American Airlines miles!

2.   United Airlines

You can fly from the US to Europe on United Airlines for:

  • 30,000 miles one-way in coach + taxes & fees
  • 57,500 miles one-way in Business Class + taxes & fees (70,000 miles if you fly on a United Airlines partner)
  • 80,000 miles one-way in First Class + taxes & fees (110,000 miles if you fly on a United Airlines partner)

You can earn United Airlines miles quickly by signing-up for these cards:

You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United at a 1:1 ratio with:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve – 100,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred – 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Chase Ink Business Preferred – 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

Check out my ultimate guide to booking United Airlines miles!

Note:   Remember, Chase has changed their application rules for airline and hotel cards.  So if you’ve opened 5+ credit cards in the past 24 months, it’s unlikely you’ll be approved for any of these cards.

Hotels

1.   IHG

You can book IHG hotels for between 10,000 and 60,000 IHG points per night (or just 5,000 IHG points per night during IHG PointBreaks!).

I stayed at the 5-star Intercontinental London Park Lane, which costs 60,000 IHG points per night.  But you can stay at cheaper options, like the Holiday Inn Stevenage30 minutes north of London, for just 10,000 IHG points per night.

2.   Hyatt

Hyatt charges between 5,000 and 30,000 Hyatt points per night.  I’ve previously stayed at the Hyatt Regency London – Churchill and loved it!  The hotel costs 25,000 Hyatt points per night.  But you can also stay in cheaper hotels, like the Hyatt Place London Heathrow, which costs 12,000 Hyatt points per night.

3.   Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, & Starwood

Marriott and Starwood have merged!  You can link your accounts, and transfer points between your Marriott and Starwood accounts at a 3:1 ratio.  And Marriott and Ritz-Carlton essentially have the same rewards program, just with different branding .  So if you collect Marriott or Starwood points, you’ll have lots of options in London!

It costs between 7,500 and 70,000 Marriott points to stay at a Marriott or Ritz-Carlton hotel.  And Starwood hotels charge between 3,000 Starwood points (2,000 points on weekends) and 35,000 Starwood points for a free night.

You could stay at The London EDITION, a 5-star Ritz-Carlton hotel, for 50,000 Marriott points (or convert 17,000 Starwood points into Marriott points).  Or you could stay at the Aloft London Excel for 10,000 Starwood points (or convert 30,000 Marriott points to Starwood points).

4.   Hilton

Hilton has lots of hotels to choose from in London!  You can stay at the incredible Waldorf Hilton, London for 60,000 Hilton points per night.  Or you can stay at the more affordable Hampton by Hilton London Croydon for 20,000 Hilton points per night.

Bottom Line

Mom and I used British Airways Avios points to fly Business Class to London.  And we loved every minute of the experience!  But we ended up paying a lot in fuel surcharges.

There are other ways to get to London on miles & points without the hefty fees.  For example:

You can use American Airlines miles to get from the US to Europe for as low as 22,500 miles one-way in coach (just choose a flight that is not on a British Airways plane, or you’ll get the fuel surcharges passed along to you).

Or you can fly from the US to Europe on United Airlines for as low as 30,000 miles one-way in coach.  Plus, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United Airlines at a 1:1 ratio.

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6 responses to “I Found My New Best Friend Traveling to London: Part 2 – Flights to London

  1. I love the series of articles like this.

    One comment, I think it was Business class, but the table showing costs states “One Round-Trip First Class Ticket from Austin to London”

  2. Great info. Lucky me I recently found your website by chance
    (stumbleupon). I have saved as a favorite for later!

  3. Enjoying this series (just moved to London, and I just love reading people’s TO DO LIST). One comment about Avios and BA redemptions. I always am annoyed by the taxes, but I find I am “less annoyed” when I redeem BA first instead of club since the taxes are the same (or at least, I believe they are the same in almost all instances). Since we are trying to “burn” a lot of miles, the “slight” uncharge (off-peak) from Club to First seems worth it to me. Further mention, for one doing a leisure trip the access to the Concorde Room (at LHR T5) and potentially in the USA (depending on gateway) is also a nice “perk” to start/end a fabulous holiday.

    • Glad you like the series, and congrats on your move to London. How exciting! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on BA First Class and the taxes. Keep the tips coming! 🙂