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INSIDER SECRET: The taxes and fees on flights from the US to London are much cheaper than on flights from London to the US. So you can potentially save by booking travel home from outside the UK.
JetBlue recently announced they are flying to London — in 2021. JetBlue has lots of loyal fans and for good reason. They have free Wi-Fi, unlimited snacks, generous leg room, and better service than almost all US airlines. To top it off, they fly the nicest domestic Business Class seats (Mint seats).
It’s understandable that JetBlue fans are excited — just like when Southwest announced their plans to fly to Hawaii — but we’ll have to wait for this one and JetBlue’s future announcement about which airport they’ll be flying to.
But you’re not out of luck if you need cheap flights to London in the next two years. I’ll show you a few good options for turning your miles into a London vacation.
3 Easy Ways How to Book Cheap Flights to London With Miles
London (and the UK in general) is a black hole when it comes to award flights. The taxes and fees you’ll find on “free” award flights to London can be absolute deal killers.
The taxes on most round-trip award flights are usually $180 to $190. Some airlines add fuel surcharges (or carrier-imposed surcharges) to award flights and those can cost more than the taxes. Fortunately, there are airlines that don’t pass on fuel surcharges on award tickets.
You’ll have the best luck avoiding extra fuel surcharges if you’re flying with one of the major US airlines. And you can use partner airline miles to fly on these airlines. So you could fly on Delta using Virgin Atlantic miles or take a trip on United Airlines with Air Canada Aeroplan miles. You’ve got lots of flexibility.
One thing to keep in mind with London’s airport taxes is that you’ll typically pay fewer taxes on flights into London (or the UK) and higher taxes on return flights from the UK to the US.
You could work this to your advantage in some situations. Maybe you can find a cheap one-way flight home and just pay cash for that flight. Or you could add on an extra city to your itinerary and fly back from, say, Paris where the taxes on the trip home will be approximately $100 cheaper. Granted, in that scenario, you’d need to travel to Paris, but cheap flights from London to Paris cost less than $50. And who’s going to say no to a side trip to Paris?
If you want to avoid the taxes and fees altogether (and still book a flight with miles or points), the best option is to wait for cheap flights to London to pop up (subscribe to our newsletter to stay in the loop on cheap airfares). When ticket prices are low, it’s a great time to pay for your flights using travel rewards like Capital One miles or Barclaycard Arrival miles. Check out this guide on avoiding award taxes and fees for tips on how to use this strategy.
1. United Airlines (Best for Avoiding Crazy Fees)
The best part about using United miles for just about any award, is that they don’t pass on fuel surcharges on award tickets. This is particularly valuable on flights to London where the fees are some of the worst in the world.
You can fly round-trip from the US to London on United Airlines for 60,000 miles + ~$80 in taxes. But United Airlines has eliminated their award chart for all flights after November 15, 2019. So the award price for flights to London will most likely start to fluctuate depending on the cash price for that specific flight.
Currently, United Airlines isn’t changing the price of partner award flights. So you can still book partner Business Class flights to Europe for 70,000 United miles one-way. This is great because United Airlines is part of the Star Alliance which includes all sorts of great airlines for getting to London (or Europe in general).
United Airlines is still a great option for getting to London while avoiding fuel surcharges even if you’re not using United Airlines miles. For example, Air Canada adds fuel surcharges to award flights on their own planes and on certain partner airlines as well. But, if you use Air Canada miles to book flights on United Airlines, fuel surcharges won’t be added (you will still pay taxes).
Air Canada only charges 55,000 miles one-way to book a Business Class award from the US to Western Europe, which includes the UK. This is a great way to get around the variable award prices United has coming.
United Airlines flies to London from these cities:
- Denver (seasonal)
- Los Angeles
- San Francisco
- Washington, DC (Dulles)
You can earn United Airlines miles with cards, like these:
Or you could collect Chase Ultimate Rewards points with these cards and transfer them to United Airlines at a 1:1 ratio:
To learn more about United Airlines miles, take a look at these guides:
- Our full United Mileage Plus review
- How to setup a United Airlines account
- United Airlines award chart
- Do United Airlines miles expire?
- Current United Airlines promotions
2. Delta Airlines
The same variable award pricing that United Airlines has implemented has been in effect with Delta for a while now. But Delta has introduced regular weekly Delta SkyMiles deals award sales, and some of the best deals have been flights to London.
Over the past year, I’ve regularly seen round-trip award flights to London for 30,000 to 32,000 Delta miles + ~$190 in fees. What makes these sales so useful is that the discounts usually extend beyond the official sale dates and apply to routes that aren’t advertised. Here’s how to find Delta SkyMiles deals.
Over the last year, I’ve even seen Delta discount Business Class awards to Europe down to 128,000 miles round-trip. That’s a solid deal as the same awards can easily cost twice that much. And even if you can’t find good deals with Delta miles, you might be able to book cheap flights on Delta using their partner airline loyalty programs.
You can book the exact same Delta Business Class flights I mentioned above for only 50,000 Virgin Atlantic miles one-way. Although the fees will be higher, it will need to be a non-stop flight since Virgin Atlantic will charge you per flight segment.
Another good partner airline for booking Delta flights is Flying Blue (the loyalty program of Air France and KLM). I found Delta flights to London for around 50,000 miles round-trip + ~$190 in fees.
Delta flies to London from:
- New York (JFK)
- Portland (seasonal)
- Salt Lake City (seasonal)
Note: Flying Blue has monthly Flying Blue Promo Awards sales with discounts of 20% to 50% off select award routes. These can be great deals when there are discounts to Europe from North America. Keep in mind these discounts don’t apply to partner flights, so you wouldn’t be flying on Delta.
You can earn Delta miles with any of the AMEX Delta cards, but right now the offers aren’t as good as they have been. So you’re better off earning AMEX Membership Rewards points, which transfer to Delta at a 1:1 ratio.
Currently The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express have the biggest AMEX Membership Rewards points intro bonuses. You can earn AMEX points with any of these cards:
|Card||Welcome bonus & minimum spending requirements|
|The Business Platinum® Card from American Express||Earn up to 75,000 Amex Membership Rewards® points: 50,000 points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases made on the card within the first 3 months of account opening.
|American Express®️ Green Card||Earn 30,000 Amex Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in your first three months of account opening. Terms apply.|
|The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express||No welcome bonus|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||60,000 Amex Membership Rewards® points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account. Terms Apply.|
|American Express® Gold Card||35,000 Amex Membership Rewards® points after spending $4,000 in purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. Terms Apply.|
|American Express® Business Gold Card||Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.|
|Business Green Rewards Card from American Express||15,000 Amex Membership Rewards® points after spending $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account. Terms Apply.|
|Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express||15,000 Amex Membership Rewards® points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account. Terms Apply.|
|Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express||10,000 Amex Membership Rewards® points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account. Terms Apply.
If you’ve got questions about Delta SkyMiles, check out our Delta SkyMiles review.
3. American Airlines
American Airlines miles can be a good option for getting to London from the US. But keep in mind that they do partner with British Airways, so you’ll want to avoid booking a British Airways award flight because again, the fees will be crazy.
One-way American Airlines flights from the US to Europe cost:
- 22,500 miles in Economy (off-peak)
- 30,000 miles in Economy (peak)
- 40,000 miles in Premium Economy
- 57,500 miles in Business Class
- 85,000 miles in First Class
Even though the only transferable points program American Airlines partners with is Marriott, their miles are easy to earn because American Airlines credit cards are issued by two banks:
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®
- CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® – Comes with Admirals Club lounge access
- American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card – No annual fee
- Barclays AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®
- Barclays AAdvantage® Aviator® Business Mastercard®
Several of these cards have intro bonuses of 60,000+ American Airlines miles, so you can earn enough miles for a round-trip flight to London by opening just one card and meeting its minimum spending requirements.
You can also use miles from partner airlines to book American Airlines flights. You can use British Airways, Iberia, or Qantas points to book American Airlines flights, but in general, those programs are best when used to book short-haul domestic American Airlines flights.
If you want to travel to London, take a look at the Etihad partner award chart for American Airlines:
You can transfer Citi ThankYou points, Capital One miles, or AMEX Membership Rewards points to Etihad. So it’s not hard to collect enough miles for these awards. Just remember that to book a partner award you’ll need to find the cheapest saver level American Airlines awards. That can be hard to do for Business Class flights to Europe, but economy awards are usually easy to come by.
American Airlines flies to London from the following cities:
- Chicago (ORD)
- Dallas (DFW)
- Los Angeles
- New York (JFK)
For more American Airlines tips and tricks, take a look at these guides:
- Best use of AA miles
- American Airlines status
- How to setup an American Airlines account
- Do American Airlines miles expire?
- AA award chart
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