Introduction: Thanksgiving In London

Filed Under: British Airways, Hotels

In mid-October Ford and I decided we were going to London for Thanksgiving. Ford loves London and has lots of friends there, while I actually haven’t explored London as in-depth as I’d like to (well, other than transiting Heathrow more times than I care to recall).

Generally Thanksgiving is a fairly slow period for transatlantic travel. There were some award options, but not great ones. Most of them were on British Airways, which meant that between the UK APD and carrier imposed surcharges, we’d pay $1,100 per person for business or first class, in addition to the miles.

I suggested to Ford that we sleep it over and revisit the next day.

Well, the timing couldn’t have possibly worked out better, as the next day British Airways announced a huge transatlantic business class fare sale.

Roundtrip business class tickets between many places in the US and Europe were just ~$1,800, and then you could add on the $400 AARP discount and 10% discount for having the British Airways Visa Card. All-in, our tickets cost ~$1,270 per person, which is incredible for business class.

While I love American’s 777-300ER business class, I figured this would be a good opportunity to try British Airways’ business class, which I’ve never reviewed before. Therefore we decided on the following flights:

11/24 BA268 Los Angeles to London departing 8:55PM arriving 3:15PM (+1 day)
11/29 BA283 London to Los Angeles departing 10:25AM arriving 1:55PM


This would allow us to fly the A380 on the outbound and the 777 on the return.


Best of all was how many miles we’d earn for the ticket. As an Executive Platinum member I was earning:

  • 10,912 base miles (the flight is 5,456 miles in each direction)
  • 13,640 bonus miles (150% bonus — 50% for being in business class, 100% for being Executive Platinum)
  • 25,000 bonus miles (thanks to a limited time promotion offering bonus miles for transatlantic travel)


That meant I was earning ~50,000 AAdvantage miles for this roundtrip. If you value those at ~1.5 cents each (which is probably my new valuation of them post-devaluation), that’s $750 worth of miles on a ~$1,270 transatlantic business class ticket. That deal simply can’t be beat.

Furthermore, this trip would push me over the next threshold for bonus systemwide upgrades, meaning I’d earn an extra two systemwide upgrades from this trip.

While I could have redeemed Avios to upgrade to first class, I decided to keep us in business class. I’ve reviewed British Airways first class several times before (from New York to London, London to Los Angeles, London to Seattle, and Seattle to London), and really wanted to finally review their new business class, even if my expectations were low.


While the flights were easy to book, I really struggled figuring out where we should stay. In late October Tiffany wrote an awesome post about booking London hotels on points, which was super-helpful in making a decision, as she’s much more familiar with London than I am.

Shortly after her post I wrote a follow up post with my London hotel conundrum, and how I ended up booking The Park Tower Knightsbridge, which is a Starwood Luxury Collection property. The location was good for where we needed to be, and I think Tiffany described it to me pretty well. She said the decor was past its prime and it’s not going to be a great hotel, but if we wanted to be in that area it was probably a good choice.


The rate for our stay was either 263GBP (~$400) or 20,000 Starpoints per night.


I certainly don’t want to spend $400 per night, but I also don’t want to redeem Starpoints at less than two cents each (especially since we were staying for four nights, which meant we couldn’t use the “Fifth Night Free” feature when redeeming Starpoints).

This seemed like the perfect opportunity to use the fourth night free benefit available on the Citi Prestige Card. This is a fantastic perk I’ve taken advantage of many times.

The rate was actually pre-paid, so I paid the ~$1,600 upfront:


And then within a couple of weeks the ~$400 refund hit:


That meant we were actually paying just ~$300 per night, which is quite reasonable for a London hotel when you consider it includes VAT. On top of that, I’d be earning a ton of Starpoints and Citi ThankYou points:

  • Over 10,000 Starpoints (I ordinarily earn four Starpoints per dollar spent as an SPG Platinum Ambassador member, plus double base Starpoints and 500 bonus Starpoints through SPG’s “Stay For More” promotion); I earn these points for the entire cost of the four nights, since the reimbursement of the fourth night is directly to my Citi Prestige® Card
  • ~4,000 Citi ThankYou points, for the triple points I earn on hotel purchases with the Citi Prestige® Card on the ~$1,200 of spend

That’s ~$1,200 out of pocket, and by my valuation I earned ~$300 worth of points. ~$900 for four nights — or ~$225 per night — in a London hotel with a great location, free Wi-Fi, free breakfast (as a Platinum member), and a suite upgrade, is tough to beat.


Bottom line

Was this trip free? Nope, absolutely not. But it was an extremely good value. We were basically paying economy prices for our business class tickets, and when you factor in how many miles we earned for the flights, it ended up being much cheaper than that.

The way I calculate it, our “actual” cost of the hotel was ~$225 per night, which is incredible for an executive suite in London with free internet, free breakfast, etc.

Stay tuned, as I’ll be publishing this trip report really quickly, so I can get on with the next trip report.

Has anyone else taken advantage of the amazing British Airways business class fares from mid-October?

  1. Are you going to roll out the report to Hong Kong, KL, Bali, Doha and Abu Dhabi? I’d love to see a review of the NY inaugural and, more importantly, the new The Pier First Class lounge at HKG.

  2. I gave up on SPG since I’ve only been upgraded once as a Plat. That’s because I emailed the hotel prior to arrival to let them know we were celebrating our anniversary

  3. Hopefully you can fit some time in this trip report to explain what beets are. Always anger-inducing when someone expects me to know what they are. Like, how the hell is it common knowledge to know what a beet is?!?! Am I supposed to know what carrots and potatoes are, too?!?!?!?! Simply unacceptable! Jeez!

    Hahaha, only joking! I’ll be looking forward to the comment section on a few of these posts.

  4. I I got a deal like that from JFK-LHR on aa 777-300er in business class, 8k base miles, 12k for one bonus and 12.5k on another bonus

  5. Well, hope this goes well. I would expect your trip reports to finish around next week Wednesday, then your long trip to Bali and Abu Dhabi should come out after that before Christmas…. It’s gonna be a busy month for you Lucky!

  6. The joys of traveling together with a partner! Glad that you guys slept on it, which resulted in a happy ending for earning more miles.

  7. @Jacob Well, you would get a better deal if you link up SPG points to Emirates and fly JFK- Milan on EK and Milan- LHR on Alitalia for example, trying to get BA out of the way as much as possible.

  8. Yes- we also took advantage of that transatlantic sale! Our family of four will be going to The Netherlands in August before school starts for our kids. We are taking going ORD-LHR-AMS and back. I used avios to upgrade us into F on the return…but staying in J on the outbound since it’s just overnight and we’ll be sleeping anyway. Have fun in London!

  9. How did you earn SPG points if you were booking through Citi’s third party partner for the fourth night free? I thought you had to book through SPG?

  10. @Danny You can always hook up points for any stay using any credit card, as long as it is booked through the Starwood homepage.

  11. I booked our family (Myself, wife, 3 year old and 1 year old) on flights in March LAX-LHR-ORY. I wish we were able to get in on the bonus 25K AA miles deal but we fly after the Jan 31 deadline. Hoping they have another promotion during our flight time. Can’t wait for our trip!

  12. Great post! Nice to see the breakdown and analysis which I sometimes find to be missing or in less detail in some of your other posts.

  13. @betterbub LOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL Nice job Ben only you could have grabbed a deal like that which is why I read your blog so bring on the the HATERS! Hope you and Ford had a great time

  14. Any time you go to London again, in the Canary Wharf or London City Airport district, **do** try the Ramada London Docklands.
    Lovely room; lovely breakfast.
    I bought it for my mother/father/myself using my [email protected] miles earned over years of Star Alliance affiliation.
    Stayed at the Holiday Inn Vauxhall too, thanks Dad! – not so nice a breakfast, but pretty good room.

  15. @ Danny — Those stays are still eligible for accruing Starpoints, as they’re the same as booking through a corporate travel agent, for example.

  16. So I’m curious… What does Ford do for a living? You guys seem to be traveling everywhere, and all the time. What’s his secret? My wife’s a teacher, but we can only travel within about a 1-2 month window during the summer due to my job. And a lot of the places we like to visit are HOT in the summer. If only we could get to HKG during the cooler months.

  17. Ben, your travel post and pictures are pretty motivational and inspiring! Keep up the good work!

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