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You’ve accumulated enough points to fly to London (or any other place in Europe) in Business Class and you’re ready to book your trip. How do you actually go about searching flight availability and booking your ticket? There’s several different ways to start your award flight searches and as long as you run through all of the available options, there’s no bad place to start – just make sure you check every option before you book or transfer points.

Is a Decent Cash Fare Available in Business Class?

While you are wanting to use your points to fly to London in Business Class, sometimes there are very reasonable cash fares available. Check Google Flights and if you see Business Class available for under $2,000 or so round-trip, consider paying with cash this time and save your points for later. When using miles and points, make sure you’re actually getting good value for your points instead of redeeming them just to redeem them.

Remember that all major banks that have points rewards also have their own travel portals through which you can book cash flights and also apply some of your points towards the cash ticket – be sure to check if this option is superior to an award flight.

AMEX Membership Rewards Transfer Partners

You can currently transfer your American Express Membership Rewards points to the following:

  • Aer Lingus AerClub (1:1)
  • Aeromexico Club Premier (1:1.6) – approx. transfer time is 3-5 days
  • Air Canada Aeroplan (1:1)
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue (1:1)
  • ANA All Nippon Airways Mileage Club (1:1) – approx. transfer time is 2-3 days
  • Avianca LifeMiles (1:1)
  • British Airways Executive Club (1:1)
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles (1:1)
  • Choice Privileges (1:1)
  • Delta Air Lines SkyMiles (1:1)
  • Emirates Air Line Skywards (1:1)
  • Etihad Airways Etihad Guest (1:1)
  • Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles (1:1)
  • Hilton Honors (1:2)
  • Iberia Plus (1:1) – approx. transfer time is 1-2 days
  • jetBlue Airways TrueBlue (0.25:0.2)
  • Marriott Bonvoy (1:1)
  • Qantas Airways Frequent Flyer (1:1)
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer (1:1) – approx. transfer time is 1 day
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club (1:1)

Before you transfer your points to an airline or hotel, always check award availability first as all transfers are final.

How do you actually get started in searching for a flight to London? You’d simply go through each frequent flyer program available to you and how much they would require for a flight in Business Class.

Some frequent flyers mentioned above are zone-based while others might be distance-based, so depending on where you live and want to fly to, different programs provide different value and rates.

Air Canada Aeroplan: Best Overall for Business Class

Aeroplan has fantastic rates for Business Class travel from the East Coast to many cities in Western Europe. You can fly in Business Class for just 60k miles one-way for flights in distance of under 4,000 miles – this includes connecting itineraries. Aeroplan has a ton of partner airlines and it is my go-to when booking a hop to Europe.

If you don’t live on the East Coast or want to fly further than that distance band, the next level up is 70k miles for one-way Business Class for itineraries under 6,000 miles. This will cover more cities in the U.S. and Europe. Air Canada Aeroplan doesn’t charge fuel surcharges and does offer a bunch of options via their partner airlines. Do note that Aeroplan still does charge change and cancel fees.

You could fly Newark to London round-trip in United Business Class for 120k miles.

ANA Mileage Club

ANA has a quirky frequent flyer program – they charge 88k miles for a round-trip ticket to Europe in Business Class but there are some important things to remember:

  • not all itineraries can be booked online
  • must fly round-trip (but open-jaws are allowed)
  • fuel surcharges are imposed
  • once you fly the first flight, it may not be possible to change any other flights
  • can be hard to make changes or cancellations

Flying to Europe for just 88k miles round-trip is an amazing deal, but you will likely pay around $800+, if not more, in taxes/fees and fuel surcharges. If your dates are set and you know when you need to fly and are willing to pay more cash and less points, this could be a redemption option for you.

British Airways Executive Club

If you’re flying to London, naturally you might think of flying British Airways. However, it may not be the best option because BA does charge fuel surcharges and also more points than other airlines might – they also have a peak/off-peak calendar, so prices vary.

The good news is that British Airways does release lots of award availability and therefore it shouldn’t be hard to find award space on one of their many flights to London.

Boston to London in Business Class one-way costs:

  • peak: 90,000 Avios + $350
  • off-peak: 80,000 Avios + $350

You also have the ability to pay more/less points or more/less cash, so you can have a custom redemption. But the rates are still not that great, when you do the math. However given that BA has lots of availability, this could be a good option if nothing else is available and you definitely need to fly.

BA Executive Club is distance-based, so the more you fly, the more you pay.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Virgin Atlantic has a great frequent flyer program and a bunch of cool partner airlines in addition to their SkyTeam partner airlines. Virgin operates flights to a bunch of U.S. cities from London and other cities in the UK. The good news is that Virgin doesn’t charge that many miles but the bad news is that they do impose fuel surcharges.

New York to London in Business Class one-way costs:

  • peak: 57,500 miles + $927
  • off-peak: 47,500 miles + $927

As you can see, those are some fantastic prices in points, but not necessarily in cash. However, there are frequent transfer bonuses from AMEX to Virgin where you could get up to 30% more points, at which point it could be worth it to pay less miles but more cash.

You could also redeem Virgin points to fly to Europe on one of their other partner airlines and still could get decent value but just note that not all partner airlines show up on their website so you may need to check for availability elsewhere and call to book.

All in All: Business Class to London

There’s multiple ways you could redeem your AMEX points for a flight to London – whether that’s applying them towards the cost of a cash ticket if a revenue fare is reasonable, or by transferring them to one of many AMEX’s transfer partners. Redemption rates will vary based on where you’re flying to/from, award availability, seasonality, the airline you’re flying, etc.

Whenever you’re redeeming your miles or points, you always want to run through all available options before making a choice – just to ensure you’re getting the best value. The good news is that most award tickets can be cancelled either for free or for a reasonable fee, but just remember those points would then stay in that frequent flyer program for future use.

Travel Miles 101 has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel Miles 101 and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.