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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.
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:
- Part 1 – Introduction and Planning
- Part 2 – Flights to London
- Part 3 – British Airways Galleries Club Lounge Review
- Part 4 – Where to Stay in London – Intercontinental London Park Lane Hotel Overview
- Part 5 – Where to Stay in London – Intercontinental London Park Lane Hotel Room Overview
- Part 6 – Where to Eat Around Mayfair
- Part 7 – Where to Eat in London
- Part 8 – What to Do in London Part 1 – Big Bus Tour
- Part 9 – What to Do in London Part 2 – Mall, Museum, and Buckingham Palace
- Part 10 – What to Do in London Part 3 – Phantom of the Opera and London at Night
- Part 11 – What to Do in London Part 4 – Day Trip to Olney
- Part 12 – Return Business Class Flight to US
- Part 13 – Blog Giveaway
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 Visa Signature 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.
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.
British Airways Business Class
We flew in Business Class, and felt like queens! The seats were spacious and comfortable.
We received blankets, amenity kits, and headphones.
It made me so happy to be able to share miles with my mom!
Shortly after takeoff, we were served dinner. The meals on the flights were pretty tasty.
I ordered the Tomato and Buffalo Mozzarella with Basil Pesto and Balsamic Glaze as my appetizer.
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!
My mom got the Braised Beef Bordelaise with Polenta and Roasted Root Vegetables.
After dinner, the airline kept snacks handy. Whenever you wanted, you could get a treat or two.
I love flying these jumbo jets. And sharing the experience with my mom made it all the more fun!
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 London||One round trip ticket from Traverse City, MI to Austin, Texas for Mom||Intercontinental 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 Used||125,000 British Airways Avios points||20,000 Delta miles||50,000 IHG Points per night
- Chase IHG anniversary free night
|Source of Miles & Points||- British Airways Visa Signature® 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 80,000 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
|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.
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!
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!
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!
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:
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® – 50,000 American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months of opening your account
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® – 50,000 American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months of opening your account
- CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® – 50,000 American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months of opening your account
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:
- Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Card – 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
- Chase United small business card – 50,000 United Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening your account
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.
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 Stevenage, 30 minutes north of London, for just 10,000 IHG points per night.
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).
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.
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.