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New York to London is the busiest long-haul international route in the world. Counting over 30 non-stop flights a day, and dozens of options if connecting through other destinations, over 4 million people fly between the cities annually. It's also one of the most closely fought routes, with the three legacy carriers vying with international carriers for the profitable business market. But what about award travel? How hard is it to score a premium cabin award ticket New York to London?
Today, we’re diving into some of our favorite redemptions flying from the Big Apple to London Tower Bridge and vice versa. We’ve included a couple strategies to fly economy, but the majority of the post is dedicated to finding business class redemptions across the Atlantic that provide the best value available.
Best Points & Miles to Fly Between New York and London
|Fly Low-Cost Carriers and Redeem Fixed-Value Points or Travel Credits - Our recommendation if you're flying economy class|
|Fly Premium Economy with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club - Not cheap, but a solid product|
|80K Round-Trip on Delta with Korean Air SKYPASS - One of our favorites, but be prepared to lay out some cash|
|140K Round-Trip with Delta SkyMiles - A premium in miles, but an easy redemption and low taxes/fees|
|115K Round-Trip with American AAdvantage - Just avoid British Airways!|
|80K Round-Trip on AA & BA with Cathay Asia Miles - Even better deal in Oneworld if you can find those AA flights with sAAver award availability|
|80K with Asiana Club, 88K with ANA Mileage Club, 110K with Aeroplan - Star Alliance has a ton of options, even if you can't make it work on United aircraft|
|100K Round-Trip on Virgin Atlantic with Singapore KrisFlyer - KrisFlyer miles are easy to accumulate even if you have to pay taxes/fees|
|140K Round-Trip with United MileagePlus - No nasty fuel or carrier imposed surcharges either|
|100K Round-Trip on American with Alaska Mileage Plan - Again, if you can find sAAver space on American|
You can typically find plenty of economy award availability, and reasonable redemption rates on the legacy carriers to Europe, however, it doesn’t represent the best return on your miles. Frequent flyer miles offer the best return when used to book premium cabin tickets for international flights. If you're flying economy, you can get better value redeeming fixed-value miles as a statement credit against tickets on low-cost carriers such as Norwegian, Level, or WOW, or making use of the travel credit on the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card.
Pulling up a random week in March 2018, round-trip flights on Norwegian will set you back $359.80. If you pay with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you’ll have $300 credited back as a statement credit, leaving you to foot the remaining $59.80. If you pay with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® (See Terms), you can redeem Arrival Miles against the charge at 1¢ per mile, or 35,980 miles round-trip to Europe. Keep in mind, the lowest fares on LCC’s don’t include checked bags or food, that all costs extra and needs to be factored into your calculations.
You can redeem Flying Club miles round-trip to London in Virgin's excellent Premium Economy product for 55,000 miles. While the mileage is good, what kills this redemption is the $616 you’ll need to pony up in fees & taxes for a round-trip.
When does it make sense to pay the hefty surcharges? Virgin Atlantic is a transfer partner of all four flexible rewards currencies. If you have points left over from other redemptions, or just spread across accounts, you can combine them for a cheap jaunt across the Atlantic, without suffering back in economy.
Fly SkyTeam Business with Korean SKYPASS and Delta SkyMiles
SkyTeam offers a few different options to London, but our picks are Korean Air SKYPASS and Delta SkyMiles.
Korean has one of the best redemption rates available to Europe at just 80,000 miles. There’s a couple of downsides to going down the Korean route. You’ll wear some pretty hefty fees disguised as fuel surcharges, around $600, and you can only book a round-trip award, not one-way. The upside is your paying 60K less round-trip than you would with Delta, and you can bag a stopover on round-trip awards so you're still well ahead.
Delta charges a hefty 70K each way to London for a total of 140,000 miles round-trip. The poor redemption rate is saved by the fact you pay minimal fees and taxes when redeeming SkyMiles, just $5.60 flying New York → London.
You can redeem one-way awards providing added flexibility, and award availability is typically very good. Redeeming through Delta SkyMiles is also the best way to book Virgin Atlantic without wearing the sky-high fees and taxes.
If you took advantage of the welcome bonus on the two Platinum Delta cards, you'd have enough miles to fly one-way from New York to London in business class without needing to pay exorbitant surcharges!
Bonus Tip: Keep an eye on Flying Blue Promo Awards on the lead up to booking awards across the Atlantic. You may need to reposition to make the promo’s work, but you can score discounts as deep as 50% on award flights to Europe.
Oneworld in Business with American AAdvantage and Cathay Asia Miles
Oneworld loyalists are in a similar boat those flying SkyTeam. While there are several options, our favorites are American Airlines AAdvantage and Cathay Pacific Asia Miles.
If you fly business class on British Airways using AAdvantage miles, you’ll be slapped with over $500 in fees and carrier-imposed surcharges. These surcharges are why Avios aren’t included in our favorite redemptions to London. While there are some workarounds to avoid the fees, American offers better value redemptions and charges just a fraction of the fees.
The key to avoiding BA’s high fees is to isolate your award search to American Airlines flights. You’ll most likely need to connect through an AA hub, but you’ll save over $1,000 in added fees on a round-trip award.
Asia Miles may not be the first program that comes to mind for transatlantic travel, but Cathay Pacific’s Frequent Flyer program is home to a stellar sweet spot flying from New York to London. Taking advantage of ‘Award Zone 5‘ on the oneworld® Multi-Carrier Award Chart (must fly two separate oneworld® carriers), you can fly AA one-way and BA the other for just 80K Asia Miles.
You’ll have to pony up high surcharges for the BA leg of your trip, but at 40K each way there is enough value in the award that it presents top value even with the additional cost. You can transfer both Membership Rewards and ThankYou Points to Asia Miles, allowing you to combine points from cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Citi Prestige® Card.
Star Alliance in Business with Multiple Rewards Programs
Star Alliance is home to multiple programs that offer top value across the Atlantic. One or two might appear a little obscure to the average points and miles fan, but each program is a transfer partner of one or more of the big transferrable rewards currencies.
All three programs pass on surcharges, but if you select the right airline partner, this is a non-issue. The hardest part of all these awards is finding saver level availability between the two cities.
Asiana Club isn't as well known as some of the programs on this list, but we’ve bumped it to the top of the Star Alliance group for a number of reasons. First, if you’re redeeming on United, you’ll pay none of the big surcharges on your 80K round-trip. And, not only does Asiana allow one-way awards, but you can add up to 7 stopovers to an award ticket! For 80K OZ Miles round-trip, you can fly up to 8 segments. You can transfer points to Asiana from SPG.
Slotting into ANA’s vast array of top value redemptions is round-trip to Europe for 88,000 miles. ANA passes on carrier-imposed charges on partner awards, but as long as you fly United, the fees top out at roughly $100. ANA allows for a single stopover on partner awards, and redemptions must be round-trip. You can transfer points from Membership Rewards and SPG to ANA Mileage Club.
Aeroplan is another Star Alliance carrier providing good value to London, but only if you avoid the fees. You can fly New York — London round-trip for 55K each way plus fees and taxes. Aeroplan passes on fuel surcharges on the majority of carriers, so to avoid a hefty co-pay it’s best to hunt out award availability on partners like United, Swiss, and Turkish that pass on minimal fees and feed those dates to Aeroplan to book the flights. Transfer points from SPG and Membership Rewards to Aeroplan.
We stumbled onto KrisFlyer's Virgin Atlantic award chart when looking at the new Singapore/Alaska partnership, and at first glance, it offers top value. For 100K Singapore KrisFlyer miles plus fees and taxes, you can fly Virgin Atlantic Upper-Class round-trip to London. The chart is labeled ‘Effective from 01 August 2017′ so still pretty new, and we have yet to hear reports of a successful booking via this method, so if you’re the first, please get in touch and let us know the exact fees & taxes.
KrisFlyer passes on partner surcharges, so you could be looking at $500+ each way, still worth tossing up when you factor in that you can transfer to Singapore from all four flexible rewards currencies.
Currently, MileagePlus only charges 57,500 miles to fly United metal to London. But that increases to 60,000 on November 1, 2017, in United’s Fall 2017 devaluation. We’ve added MileagePlus in at 140K round-trip as you’re far more likely to find saver award space on Star Alliance partners than on United. As MileagePlus doesn’t pass on additional fees & taxes, you can fly top-tier business class products without fronting up a significant cash co-pay. United also allows one-way awards and don't forget the excursionist perk (free stopover) to hit up another European destination.
Alaska offers one of the best value awards between New York and London. Thanks to its partnership with American, it is cheaper to fly to London in business class on American using Alaska miles than via AAdvantage. Pricing at 50K and under $20 in fees & taxes each way, Alaska also allows a stopover in each direction so your 100K miles could potentially take you to three destinations for the price of one.
Just remember, you can't mix multiple partners on Alaska awards, so your stopover would need to be either at an Alaska or American-serviced city.
No matter where you park your points and miles, there’s a way to travel New York to London in style. Thanks to the dozens of flights in and out of London daily, there are plenty of options to fly non-stop, or you can maximize your miles and stopover somewhere on route. Each of the four big transferable currencies is represented on the list, with some options counting all four as transfer partners, allowing you to combine your points and miles for a luxury business class redemption.
As for the best way to get from New York to London on points or miles, that gong goes to Asiana Club. At just 80K miles, you can book one-way (40K miles) or round-trip, and include up to 7 stopovers on one award. Marriott points convert to Asiana at a 3:1 ratio which opens up transfer options from Marriott Points, plus you’ll bag an additional 5,000 points for every 60,000 point transfer.
If you have any questions about award flights between New York and London, or a tip you’d like to share, please reach out in the comments below.
For rates and fees of the cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® (See Terms)
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