Business class to London for less with this Asia Miles trick


Flying business class to London can be very expensive, even when using miles.  The reason is that the two airlines that tend to have the most award availability to London (British Airways and Virgin Atlantic) also impose the steepest surcharges on award tickets.  With Virgin Atlantic, you can reduce surcharges by booking awards with Air France / KLM Flying Blue miles.  With British Airways, you can reduce surcharges by booking awards with Cathay Pacific Asia Miles.

Asia Miles is about to increase award prices starting October 1, 2023.  Unfortunately, they don’t publish an award chart for single-partner awards, so we don’t know how much more expensive it will be to book British Airways flights and we don’t know if they’ll continue to offer reduced surcharges on these flights, but for now it’s a great deal.  I have a bunch of Asia Miles I want to use up, so I booked a trip to London for this fall.  And I learned a couple of things along the way…

a map of the united states with blue dots and lines
British Airways routes to/from North America courtesy of FlightConnections

From U.S. east-coast-ish cities to London…

This is the Asia Miles sweet-spot.  Whether you’re flying from Boston, New York, Washington DC, Miami, Philadelphia, or even Chicago to London, Asia Miles charges far less than competing programs for one-way awards.  The images below show the Boston to LHR route, but I found the exact same pattern from all of the cities I just mentioned:

  • American Airlines Award Price: 57,500 miles + $731.20 in fees
  • British Airways Award Price: Choose your own adventure:
    • 90,000 Avios + $350 in fees
    • 75,000 Avios + $610 in fees
    • 52,000 Avios + $1,195 in fees
    • 36,000 Avios + $1,455 in fees
    • 24,000 Avios + $1,725 in fees
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles: 61,000 miles + $249 in fees

American Airlines

a screenshot of a computer

British Airways

a screenshot of a website

Cathay Pacific

a screenshot of a computer

From other U.S. cities to London…

I discovered something strange as I was looking for awards to London.  For flights from Cincinnati, Cathay Pacific wanted the same 61,000 miles but now with $413 in fees (vs. $249, above).  That’s still a lot cheaper than when booking through AA, but paying an extra $164 per-person can add up quickly.  This confused me.  Why would flights from Cincinnati cost more in fees than flights from Chicago?

I plugged in the routes to to see the difference in distance and was surprised to find that the flight from Cincinnati was 10 miles farther.  So maybe, the surcharges are based on distance flown?  Nope.  Flights from Miami are much farther than both of those routes and yet Asia Miles still charges the lower amount for these flights.  Additionally, Pittsburgh to London is a shorter route than from Chicago and Asia Miles charges the larger amount there.  Weird!  My best guess at the moment is that Asia Miles charges under $250 in fees for flights from the east coast, and Chicago, but charges over $400 for flights from the rest of the contiguous United States.

As you go farther west, Cathay will also charge more miles for these flights, and so the advantage of booking with Cathay Asia Miles over other alternatives decreases (but can still be your best option at times).  For example, to fly BA business class from LAX to London would cost the following:

  • American Airlines Award Price: 57,500 miles + $731.20 in fees
  • British Airways Award Price: 90,000 Avios + $450 in fees
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles: 75,000 miles + ~$400 in fees

What I learned

In the beginning of this post, I said that I learned a couple of things along the way while booking flights to London.  One of the things I learned was described above: the best deals with Asia miles seem to be from east coast cities and from Chicago.  The other thing I learned is that British Airways sometimes offers awards to their own members which are not available to partners.  Most airlines work that way, but I’ve never seen that with British Airways before.  But in my searches I found a few flights that were bookable with British Airways Avios, but not with AA miles or Cathay Pacific Asia Miles.

How to Get Asia Miles

If you have points in almost any major transferable points programs, then you can transfer to Asia Miles:

Rewards ProgramAmex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Chase Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Citi Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Marriott Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Capital One Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Bilt Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 25K (~1 day)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (~5 Minutes)

Bottom Line

Asia Miles can be an excellent option for booking business class flights to London in order to limit surcharges.  Unfortunately we can expect the prices to go up a bit on October 1 when Cathay will be raising most award prices.  So, if you have Asia Miles, I recommend booking now.

If you don’t already have Asia Miles, and depending upon how much Asia Miles devalues their partner awards, you might actually be better off booking through  British Airways.  Points programs offer transfer bonuses to British Airways both more often and often with bigger bonuses than to Cathay Pacific.  In fact, as I write this, there is a 15% transfer bonus from Citi to Asia Miles which ends July 22.  Meanwhile, Amex has a 30% transfer bonus to British Airways that continues until August 31.

You can find all current and past transfer bonuses here: Current transfer bonuses.

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hi, do u know why Asia Miles redeem Sin-US on JL was charged very low YQ? much lower than SIN-TYO on JL.

Avi Kerendian

I never knew one could book British Airways awards with Cathay Pacific Asia Miles… all this time I thought it was limited to the “Avios” currency only.

Cheers for the tips.
– Avi Kerendian


Most of the alliance partners can book flights in the same alliance:

  • British Airways can be booked with miles from any of oneworld alliance partners: Cathay, AA, BA, Qatar, Malaysia, Japan Airline, Alaska, Qantas, Royal Jordanian…etc.

That’s why having transferrable currency is so valuable, you are not limited to just pricing on one airline.

Avi Kerendian

Good to know, thanks Kevin! With Amex’s current 30% transfer bonus, I’m tempted to park some points there, then again I don’t want to transfer speculatively.

Any advice? Or, would you recommend waiting for a higher transfer bonus before transferring?

Appreciate your advice!


I just can’t justify those redemption costs for only a 6.5 hour flight, especially when you have to pay the surcharges for going into London.

Mid/west coast would be a little more palpable for me personally at those rates.


Fwiw, the transfer I did from capital one miles to Asia miles about a month ago was instant.


Did you (or anyone else) run into finding BA space via AA but it’s not showing on Asia Miles? Seeing a ton of that happening in my searches for August right now. I’d expect if BA makes space available to AA it would be available to CX/AsiaMiles as well, but apparently that’s not the case.


Did a last minute trip to London 7/1-7/10 and ended up with AA first class from Tus via LAX at 99,500 miles and $5.60. Business was 10,000 miles less but the first class ended up being well worth the extra miles. Asia Miles didn’t come up in any of the searches I did so I will remember this option for the future. Found Flying Blue from Paris to Houston on Air France to come home for 80,000 plus about $380. Originally booked Condor for 55,000 Alaska miles plus $61 from Frankfurt to Vegas for the return but the Flying Blue option gave me an extra day in Paris to enjoy.


AA’s exorbitant $731 in fees is only for flights operated by BA. JFK-LHR on AA metal has fairly decent nonstop availability in business from 78K + $5.60, and similar pricing from other cities with a connection. I’d rather fly AA than BA anyway.


Just came to the comments to see if this had been already been said. Way cheaper fees than Asia Miles is just to book on AA nonstop. Especially when departing from a gateway with a Flagship Lounge, I’d much rather be on AA metal going east.


Would have loved to share this with you two years ago-lol. Hope you’re well!


Just flew sfo to lhr on points British Airways. Yes steep fees. But so what.

Some people don’t get it

You are obviously not part of the points value team. You should notify us all when you fly so we can catch them dead presidents flying out the windows as you pass by

Avi Kerendian

Sure, but how many Avios did it cost you?

It’s all relative. You’ve got to combine those fees with the cost per point, to calculate if it’s even worth the award redemption.


I had a lot of BA avios that I wasn’t using. I wanted to “use” them bc I didn’t see much use in them. I can always get more avios thru cc SUB or transfers. I’ve got a lot of points all over the place. I feel very good about my redemption

Avi Kerendian

Awesome, glad it worked out. Definitely much better than the people who let their points sit for years. Point inflation is definitely real!


Larry K

I was finding very weird anomalies with U.S.A. to EU on British Airways last week, doing a bunch of searching. I was checking west coast (PHX and LAX) to FRA, not LON, but the taxes were all over the map depending on route and which frequent flier program I checked. Sometimes AA would show $730-ish, other times it would show $451. Qantas (which is usually most expensive) was showing $650. BA was showing $451 on peak days but closer to $800 on off peak. It was all screwy.

Jeffy Jeff

Not amazing. London is to be avoided on long haul. Just go to Madrid and take a hop


Was there a similar savings in reverse (London to the US)?


Last week we booked BA business MUC- LHR -PHL in December, 61k points + ~$375 fees