Book now: Widespread award availability to a reopening London, including business class

Jul 30, 2021

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The U.K. recently announced that it plans to drop the quarantine requirement for fully vaccinated U.S. travelers on Aug. 2, 2021. This is great news for those looking to visit London since you no longer have to quarantine for up to 10 days and undergo multiple covid tests during your stay. Even better, in a recent hunt for award space, the TPG team has found that there’s fairly widespread award space from the U.S. to London, including in premium cabins.

There’s availability from when London reopens in August through the end of the calendar, though you’ll find thce lowest rates in late summer and early spring of next year. Most space is from the East Coast, but you can find saver-level space from other parts of the U.S. as well.

Here’s a round-up of all of the deals available with American Airlines, British Airways, Delta, Virgin Atlantic, United and, the newest airline to fly across the pond, JetBlue.

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In This Post

The deal

Airline: American, British Airways, Delta, JetBlue, Virgin Atlantic, United

Routes: Major U.S. cities to London-Heathrow (LHR)

Cost: From 10,000 miles one-way in economy, 45,000 in business class, 78,000 in first class

Dates: August 2021 through May 2022

How to book: Search for award space with your airline of choice’s website and book by following the on-screen prompts.

Pay taxes and fees with: The Platinum Card® from American Express (5x on airfare booked directly with the airline; on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year), Chase Sapphire Reserve (3x on travel) or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x on travel) for travel protections on your award flight.

Related: Here’s how to fly to London using points and miles

American Airlines

American Airlines offers nonstop flights to London-Heathrow (LHR) from several U.S. cities. However, you’ll find the best nonstop availability from the airline’s East Coast gateway cities, such as New York (JFK), Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), Philadelphia (PHL) and Miami (MIA). Other cities will likely require a connection. Saver-level business class and economy awards on these routes are fairly widespread from now through the end of the calendar, but unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Flagship First class awards.

AA 77W Business Class
(Photo by Andrew Kunesh/The Points Guy)

American flies a mix of Boeing 787-8s, 787-9s, 777-200s and 777-300ERs to London. Although the business class seats vary from one plane to the next, every configuration offers direct aisle access and lie-flat beds. Hot meals are back and American’s Flagship lounges will start reopening in the fall.

Sample itineraries

Boston (BOS) to London (LHR) one-way in August

BOS-LHR
(Screenshot courtesy of aa.com)

Miami (MIA) to London (LHR) one-way in August

MIA - LHR
(Screenshot courtesy of aa.com)

New York (JFK) to London (LHR) one-way in November

JFK - LHR
(Screenshot courtesy of aa.com)

How to book

The best way to book American awards is often through its own AAdvantage program. One-way saver awards cost 30,000 miles each way in economy or 57,500 miles in business class. Or, if you’re traveling during the “off-peak” period, you can book coach flights for just 22,500 miles. Even better, you’ll pay just $5.60 in taxes and fees on the flights to the U.K. The fees are a bit higher for the return due to U.K. taxes and Airport Passenger Duty, but these apply to all airlines — not just American.

If you’re having trouble finding award availability, try using AA’s calendar view or a third-party tool like ExpertFlyer or SeatSpy.

Here are some offers that can help you boost your AAdvantage balance:

The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select, CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

British Airways

The London-based British Airways has the most routes from the U.S. to London. You’ll find flights from nearly all major U.S. cities like Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. You’ll also find service to mid-sized cities like Austin, Nashville and Philadelphia. Many of BA’s U.S. routes are operating again, while others will re-launch as the U.K. reopens for travel.

One nice thing about BA is that it has plentiful award space. It’s relatively easy to find BA space in all cabins — including first class — on many BA routes. But there’s a major downside too: you’ll spend a lot of money on taxes and fuel surcharges regardless of who you book with.

For example, a round-trip BA business class flight from New York-JFK to London-Heathrow (LHR) has $1,785.83 in taxes and fees. Again, you’ll pay something similar regardless of if you book with British Airways Avios, American Airlines AAdvantage, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan or other Oneworld members.

JFK to LHR round-trip BA award ticket pricing
(Screenshot courtesy of britishairways.com)

The only exception is Cathay Pacific Asia Miles. You can generally score a discount on fees when you book BA flights with Asia Miles. A round-trip flight from JFK to LHR has just $733.52 in taxes and fees on a round-trip business class ticket. You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Rewards, Citi ThankYou and Marriott Bonvoy points to Asia Miles.

(Screenshot courtesy of asiamiles.com)

You can also get a solid deal on BA premium economy when you book with American miles. You’ll pay a little under $250 in taxes and fees for a one-way ticket to London departing the U.S., but only 40,000 miles. These tickets can be expensive, so it’s worth considering if you want to skip the high surcharges on business class tickets.

BA award ticket ORD to LHR on AA website
(Screenshot courtesy of aa.com)

If you decide to book with BA Avios, the price you’ll pay is based on the distance of your flight and how many segments you fly. You’ll pay more Avios for longer flights and pay leg-by-leg, so if you add in a domestic connection on American, you’ll be on the hook to pay for that flight with your Avios. You can read more about the Avios award chart in our full guide.

Sample itineraries

Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) to London-Heathrow (LHR) round-trip in October, business class

ORD to LHR BA award ticket
(Screenshot courtesy of britishairways.com)

Dallas (DFW) to London-Heathrow (LHR) round-trip in January, premium economy

DFW to LHR BA award ticket
(Screenshot courtesy of britishairways.com)

New York-JFK to London-Heathrow (LHR) round-trip in September, business class

JFK to LHR BA award ticket
(Screenshot courtesy of britishairways.com)

Los Angeles (LAX) to London-Heathrow (LHR) round-trip in January, economy

LAX to LHR BA award ticket
(Screenshot courtesy of britishairways.com)

How to book

If booking with Avios, head to BA’s Book With Avios page and search for your flight. You will see all available flights at the center of the screen. Click on the flights you want to book and follow the on-screen prompts to book your tickets. You’ll also see BA flights on most partner websites.

You can transfer Amex, Capital One, Chase and Marriott points to BA Avios. You can also earn with the British Airways Visa Signature® Card, which currently offers 100,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases with the first three months of account opening.

Delta

Delta currently offers nonstop flights to London from Atlanta (ATL), Boston (BOS),  New York (JFK) and Seattle/Tacoma (SEA). Delta plans to relaunch flights to LHR from Detroit (DTW) on October 30th and Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) on October 31st. Pre-pandemic, they offered flights to Los Angeles as well, but that flight does not seem to be returning anytime soon.

While award availability in economy is relatively consistent, Premium Select and Delta One seem to be a lot harder to come by. You’ll likely be better off looking for flights operated by Delta’s partner Virgin Atlantic (more on that availability soon). If you do get lucky, you may be able to score a flight on a recently refurbished Delta One suite.

Based on our searches, it is possible to find better award rates when booking roundtrips. For instance, you can snag economy awards from 23,000 SkyMiles each way when booking a round-trip, as opposed to 35,000 miles or more when booking one-ways.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Sample itineraries

New York (JFK) to London (LHR) round-trip in December

(Screenshot courtesy of Delta.com)

Atlanta (ATL) to London (LHR) round-trip in November

(Screenshot courtesy of Delta.com)

Boston (BOS) to London (LHR) round-trip in November

(Screenshot courtesy of Delta.com)

How to book

If you happen to have a plethora of Delta SkyMiles in your account, you can book these awards through Delta’s Skymiles program. However, we suggest looking at other programs as this may not be the best use of your miles and award availability is not particularly good.

If you choose to go down this route, though, Delta is charging as little as 35,000 Skymiles in economy and 120,000 Skymiles in Delta One, plus $5.60 for rewards. However, I was unable to find many awards close in. Most dates were in October and November.

Related: Why I don’t plan to spend a single cent on my Delta credit card for the rest of 2021

Delta A321 Takeoff Atlanta Fly Delta Jets
(Photo by Ryan Patterson/The Points Guy)

When there is saver availability available, we recommend looking to book the same awards for fewer miles through Virgin Atlantic Flying Club or KLM/Air France Flying Blue. There you can find rewards for as little as 10,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles one way in economy or 47,500 in business class. More on that later in the article.

Currently, Delta SkyMiles has a singular credit card transfer partner: American Express Membership Rewards. You can transfer Membership Rewards points to Delta SkyMiles at a 1:1 ratio. However, you will pay a fee of $0.0006 per mile (up to a maximum of $99) to offset the federal excise tax, so the transaction can carry an additional cost if you’re transferring enough for a large, international award.

United

United offers nonstop flights to London from Chicago (ORD), Houston (IAH), Newark (EWR), San Francisco (SFO) and Washington D.C. (IAD). At the end of October, it will relaunch service from Denver (DEN) and Los Angeles (LAX).

There’s nonstop availability out of Houston every day in August and then most days in February and March 2022. Although not quite as widespread, there’s also a lot of availability out of Chicago around those same dates. There’s some availability out of San Francisco in early August, but basically none the rest of the calendar.

United 767-300 Polaris
(Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

Though United doesn’t yet have a firm reopening timeline for its Polaris Lounges, it has made major strides with its cabin retrofit program. It now offers its top-notch Polaris business class pods on almost all long-haul flights.

Sample itineraries

Houston (IAH) to London (LHR) one-way in August

UA IAH-LHR
(Screenshot courtesy of united.com)

Chicago (ORD) to London (LHR) one-way in August

UA ORD-LHR
(Screenshot courtesy of united.com)

San Francisco (SFO) to London (LHR) one-way in August

UA SFO-LHR
(Screenshot courtesy of united.com)

How to book

You can easily book these awards through United’s MileagePlus program. It charges as little as 30,000 miles each way in economy and 60,000 miles in business class, plus $5.60, though these rates can sometimes be higher, such as when you’re booking close-in. You can transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards at a 1:1 ratio with a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card if you need to top off your United balance.

When there’s saver availability, you may be able to book the same awards for fewer miles through partners like Turkish Airlines Miles and Smiles or Air Canada Aeroplan. Turkish charges just 45,000 miles each way for business class flights to Europe, while Aeroplan charges 55,000 to 57,500 miles, depending on the distance.

You can quickly earn Turkish miles by transferring points from Capital One or Citi ThankYou Rewards, while Aeroplan is a transfer partner of Capital One and American Express Membership Rewards. So, having a card like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, which is offering new cardholders 60,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening, can go a long way.

If you can find round-trip saver availability, an even cheaper option is ANA Mileage Club, which charges just 88,000 miles round-trip for business class. Just remember that you can’t book one-way tickets.

Related: Find American Airlines and United award availability quickly with SeatSpy

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic is currently offering nonstop flights from the United States to London (LHR) from Atlanta (ATL), Boston (BOS), Las Vegas (LAS), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), New York–JFK (JFK), Orlando (MCO) beginning 6 August 2021, San Francisco (SFO), Seattle/Tacoma (SEA) and Washington D.C. (IAD).

Virgin Atlantic Flying club offers one of the most generous award charts available and you can unlock some incredible value. There is great availability on most days out of every airport the entire fall on Virgin Atlantic. Flights start at 20,000 Flying Club Miles one way in economy for peak dates and 57,500 flying club miles Upper Class plus taxes. Unfortunately, while awards are quite cheap and readily available, you can find yourself dishing out up to $724 in taxes in Upper Class.

Related: Unlock incredible value with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Virgin Atlantic A350 Upper Class
(Photo by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy)

Sample itineraries

Boston (BOS) to London (LHR) one-way in August

(Screenshot courtesy of VirginAtlantic.com)

Seattle/Tacoma (SEA) to London (LHR) one-way in August

(Screenshot courtesy of VirginAtlantic.com)

Los Angeles (LAX) to London (LHR) one-way in September

(Screenshot courtesy of VirginAtlantic.com)

Washington D.C. (IAD) to London (LHR) one-way in August

(Screenshot courtesy of VirginAtlantic.com)

How to book

You can very easily book these awards through the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club program. One thing to note when searching award availability is the peak and off-peak dates. Standard peak season dates for 2021 are Jan. 6 to March 25, 2021, April 18-20, June 2021, Sept. 6 to Oct. 14, 2021 and Oct.r 27 to Dec. 10, 2021.

It’s also important to note just how easy it is to collect Flying Club points — even without flying Virgin Atlantic or its partners. Flying Club is a transfer partner of most of the major point currencies:

American Express Membership Rewards (1:1, instant transfer)
Chase Ultimate Rewards (1:1, instant transfer)
Citi ThankYou Rewards (1:1, instant transfer)
Marriott Bonvoy (3:1 with a 5,000-point bonus for transferring 60,000 points, 24-hour transfer time)

This means that if you’ve found a reward that suits your travel, you have plenty of options for earning transferable points to Flying Club. One thing to also note when booking.  Virgin Atlantic Flying Club now has individual award charts for each of its partners. With Delta being one of those partners, you can find fantastic flight rewards even with the devaluation last October.

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

JetBlue

JetBlue A321LR economy cabin
The economy cabin on JetBlue’s A321LR (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

JetBlue loyalists were thrilled when JetBlue hinted at plans for London service back in late 2018. And after some delays, this service will finally begin soon. In particular, you’ll be able to fly between New York-JFK and London Heathrow starting Aug. 11, 2021, and between New York-JFK and London Gatwick starting Sep. 29, 2021. JetBlue also plans to launch nonstop service between London and Boston Logan next summer.

JetBlue will fly an Airbus A321LR on its routes between New York and London. These aircraft have 114 seats and 24 Mint suites, so check out our post on where to sit when flying JetBlue’s A321LR to and from London. And the food JetBlue plans to serve on these transatlantic flights looks incredible.

Cash rates are reasonable on many dates. But, if you’re looking to redeem JetBlue TrueBlue points, you’ll be happy to know there’s often quite a bit of award availability. However, JetBlue Mint transatlantic awards can be rather pricy when booked with JetBlue points.

Sample itineraries

You can currently book nonstop JetBlue flights from New York-JFK to London Heathrow and London Gatwick. Here are a few examples of award pricing on these routes.

New York (JFK) to London one-way in October

JetBlue award availability from JFK to London in October 2021
(Screenshot courtesy of jetblue.com)

London to New York (JFK) one-way in October

JetBlue award availability from London to JFK in October 2021
(Screenshot courtesy of jetblue.com)

New York (JFK) to London one-way in March

JetBlue award availability from JFK to London in March 2022
(Screenshot courtesy of jetblue.com)

London to New York (JFK) one-way in March

JetBlue award availability from London to JFK in March 2022
(Screenshot courtesy of jetblue.com)

Related: How to redeem points with the JetBlue TrueBlue program

How to book

The easiest way to book JetBlue awards is through the JetBlue TrueBlue program. Award pricing typically starts around 33,900 points for one-way economy awards from the U.S. and around 52,500 for one-way economy awards from London. And it’s easy to earn JetBlue points. For example, you can earn JetBlue points with the JetBlue Plus Card or JetBlue Business Card. And you can transfer points from multiple transferable currencies, including American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards and Capital One.

The information for the JetBlue Plus and JetBlue Business cards has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer

However, TPG’s valuations peg the value of JetBlue points at 1.3 cents each. So, transferring points to JetBlue may not make sense unless you only need to earn a few more points for your redemption. Instead, especially if you have Chase Ultimate Rewards points and the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you should consider whether you’ll get more value from your points when booking a paid fare through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.

You can also redeem Emirates Skywards miles for JetBlue flights. And you can even book JetBlue Mint with Emirates miles. It’s a great deal at just 64,000 miles for Mint from JFK to LHR, especially compared to what you’d pay through TrueBlue. But, searching for available availability isn’t straightforward and you’ll need to call to book. So be sure to follow the instructions in this post.

Related: JetBlue will fly to London Heathrow and Gatwick: Which route should you choose?

Maximize your purchase

When paying the taxes and fees on your award ticket, be sure to use a credit card that earns additional points on airfare purchases and offers travel protection if anything goes wrong. Cards that fit the bill include The Platinum Card® from American ExpressChase Sapphire Reserve, or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

Additional reporting by Katie Genter, Andrew Kunesh and Ryan Patterson.

Featured photo by S-F/Shutterstock.

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