No matter how many places I visit, London remains one of my all-time favourite cities. And as it happens, there are so very many ways to travel here on points. And, for that matter, countless opportunities to use points to save on hotel costs.

In this guide to London, I’ll take you through many ways to get here on points. Whether you’re spending Qantas Points, Velocity Points, KrisFlyer miles or even points in Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, I’ve got you covered. I’ll also explain your lounge options at London’s Heathrow Airport and take a peek at the city’s other key airports.

Flying to London on points

London is served by a huge web of airlines, and you can book these flights using frequent flyer points from practically every major frequent flyer program. We can’t detail the rates and options of every single program – there are simply too many. But here are the key highlights based on the major Australian frequent flyer programs, as well as options covering Star Alliance and SkyTeam flights.

Using Qantas Points

Qantas has a significant web of partners that link Australia with London in just one stop. Qantas serves London with its own aircraft too. Here’s a broad overview of those one-stop options when using Qantas Points, as well as details on Qantas’ non-stop service between Australia and the UK.

Using Qantas Airways Logo Qantas Points to London EconomyPremium
Non-stop from Perth, or from Perth via Singapore (Qantas)51,20094,900*126,500N/A
From Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane via Singapore (Qantas)
From Sydney via Los Angeles (American Airlines)
From Perth via Dubai (Emirates)
From Perth via Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia Airlines)
From Sydney via Singapore (British Airways)
From Sydney and Melbourne via Colombo (SriLankan Airlines)
From Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane via Dubai (Emirates)
From Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth via Hong Kong (Cathay Pacific)
From Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide via Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia Airlines)
From Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane via Shanghai (China Eastern Airlines)
From Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane via Taipei (China Airlines)
From Sydney via Tokyo Haneda (Japan Airlines)
Qantas Points required are per person, one way. Taxes, fees and charges are also payable and vary by route.
*Qantas Premium Economy and Qantas First are unavailable from Brisbane or Perth to Singapore.
+From Perth, First Class is only available on Emirates.
~Premium Economy is only available on British Airways, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines and Japan Airlines.
#First Class is only available on British Airways and Emirates.

There are many more one-stop combinations available, too, when changing airlines at the transit point. For instance, Cathay Pacific from Australia to Hong Kong connecting to British Airways from Hong Kong to London. Or, if you get creative, flights like Japan Airlines from Melbourne to Tokyo Narita. Then with enough time in between, take the train (and your bags) to Haneda Airport for an onward flight to London.

Ways to earn Qantas Points

Qantas Points are incredibly easy to earn in Australia, and we’ve outlined many of the simplest ways to grow your balance in this handy guide. But one savvy way to boost your balance is to make good use of bonus points offers on products and services that suit your plans and needs.

For instance, shopping with Qantas Wine can boost your balance fast. Regular offers can often place 5,000-20,000 bonus Qantas Points on the table per eligible case of wine. Successfully applying for a points-earning credit card during a sign-up promotion could also be a path to bonus points when meeting any minimum spending requirement of the offer.

A single sign-up offer could be rewarding enough for a one-way Premium Economy flight to London – or a return journey in Economy. If you’re not starting from scratch on your points journey, that credit card sign-up bonus could sit atop a stash of points already in your account, which could even make it achievable to fly Business Class.

Using Velocity Points

Virgin Australia’s network of partner airlines can also whisk you to London. Here’s a look at how many points you’d need.

Using Virgin Australia  Velocity Points to LondonEconomyPremium
From Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane via Los Angeles or San Francisco (United Airlines)59,800N/A127,500N/A
From Perth via Doha (Qatar Airways)
From Darwin and Perth via Singapore (Singapore Airlines)
From Sydney and Melbourne via Abu Dhabi (Etihad Airways)
From Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide via Doha (Qatar Airways)
From Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Cairns via Singapore (Singapore Airlines)
From Sydney via Tokyo Haneda (All Nippon Airways)
From Sydney and Brisbane via Vancouver (Air Canada)
Velocity Points required are per person, one way. Taxes and fees are also payable and vary by route.
*Premium Economy is only available on Singapore Airlines from Sydney and Melbourne.
+First Class is only available on Qatar Airways from Sydney and Perth.

It’s worth pointing out that Virgin Australia has another partner airline based in London. That’s Virgin Atlantic – which unfortunately no longer serves Australia but does fly to other airports above. With the help of the Velocity call centre, you may be able to book itineraries like United to LA or San Francisco and Virgin Atlantic from there.

For another option too, ANA offers direct flights from Perth to Tokyo Narita. If you didn’t mind collecting your things, entering Japan and taking the train over to Haneda, you could then fly onwards to London. Whether that’s appealing will depend on what other alternatives are available using points when you need to travel.

Ways to earn Velocity Points

Velocity counts many great points earning partners on the ground. But to build your balance of points fast, a hefty credit card sign-up bonus can be useful. One well-timed deal could get you within striking distance of one-way Business Class flight to London.

Often, you’d first earn reward points in your bank’s own loyalty program – and from there, convert these into Velocity Points. These transfers can occur at varying rates, but you can review the latest Velocity options here.

Using KrisFlyer miles

You can book Singapore Airlines flights using Velocity Points, sure. But Singapore Airlines has its own frequent flyer program – KrisFlyer – which also opens many doors between Australia and London. Especially so as Singapore Airlines is a member of Star Alliance, meaning its miles can be used to book a broader network of other flights too.

Using   KrisFlyer miles to London EconomyPremium EconomyBusinessFirst /
From Perth and Darwin via Singapore (Singapore Airlines)47,500N/A119,500N/A
From Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Cairns via Singapore (Singapore Airlines)58,500101,000*130,500183,500*
From Sydney and Melbourne via Bangkok (Thai Airways)
From Sydney and Melbourne via Beijing (Air China)
From Sydney and Melbourne via Delhi, and from Melbourne via Mumbai (Air India)
From Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane via Los Angeles or San Francisco (United Airlines)
From Sydney and Melbourne via Seoul (Asiana Airlines)
From Sydney via Tokyo Haneda (All Nippon Airways)
From Sydney and Brisbane via Vancouver (Air Canada)
KrisFlyer miles required are per person, one way. Taxes and fees are also payable and vary by route.
*Premium Economy and First/Suites are only available on selected flights from Sydney and Melbourne.

Along with the options above, KrisFlyer miles can be redeemed on Virgin Atlantic flights as well. But with KrisFlyer, bookings on Virgin Atlantic normally need to be made on a separate reservation to flight redemptions on the program’s other partners. And, bookings on Virgin Atlantic attract a different set of redemption rates.

It’s also worth pointing out the option of EVA Air from Brisbane to Taipei. From there, EVA runs a ‘Taipei-London’ flight, although it stops in Bangkok on the way. This is one of many additional two-stop options you can consider to maximise the opportunity to fly using points. We’re only listing one-stop options in the table above.

Ways to earn KrisFlyer miles

In 2023, we’ve seen changes to how KrisFlyer miles are earned through certain partnered credit cards. For instance, some credit card issuers have instituted new points conversion rates with KrisFlyer. But it’s still easy and straightforward to convert credit card points into KrisFlyer miles – including from credit card sign-up offers.

Happily, travellers can also continue converting Velocity Points into KrisFlyer miles at a 1.55:1 rate. And, depending on where you’re headed and which airlines are available, some flights might be bookable with Velocity Points and KrisFlyer miles. This can give you the strategic opportunity to see how many points or miles each program needs to book that flight. And if one is better than the other, and converting points doesn’t leave you worse off overall, seize that opportunity.

The biggest ‘red flag’ with KrisFlyer miles, though, is that they expire three years after being earned unless you have high-level status in the KrisFlyer program. Many travellers prefer to only convert points into KrisFlyer miles when they have a concrete plan or are ready to book an award flight. And while you’re at it, be sure there’s a suitable flight to spend your miles on before converting them from elsewhere.

Using Virgin Points from Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Another frequent flyer program to be aware of is Virgin Atlantic Flying Club – especially for flights to London. As you’d expect, points from Flying Club can get you a seat on Virgin Atlantic. But with Virgin Atlantic now in the SkyTeam Alliance – and separately, partners with ANA – there are a few other options.

Using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points to LondonEconomyPremium EconomyBusiness
From Sydney via Tokyo Haneda (All Nippon Airways)62,500N/A92,500
From Sydney and Melbourne via Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam Airlines)
From Sydney and Brisbane via Seoul (Korean Air)
From Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane via Taipei (China Airlines)
From Sydney via Los Angeles (Delta Air Lines)65,000-75,000N/A232,500-242,500
Flying Club points required are per person, one way. Taxes and fees are also payable and vary by route.
*Premium Economy reward seat bookings aren’t available on Korean Air.

Just know that Flying Club members can’t yet redeem Virgin Points on SkyTeam member China Eastern. It’s in the works – but for now, don’t expect to find these reward flights via Mainland China. And a separate reminder that while China Eastern is based in Mainland China, China Airlines – another Virgin Atlantic partner – is instead based in Taiwan.

It’s also worth highlighting that the redemption rates listed for Delta are correct. This is because Flying Club prices Delta reward seats per segment. And for that matter, flights between Australia and the US are priced at the very high end. The total cost indicated is Sydney-LA plus ‘USA-UK’ at both off-peak and peak times.

Ways to earn Virgin Points through Flying Club

There can be a lot of confusion between Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. The two are completely separate programs, and you can’t convert points directly between Velocity and Flying Club. But as for Flying Club, buying points can be very cost-effective. Especially when you compare the cost of the miles with the retail value of the tickets they can be redeemed for.

But don’t think you have to shell out big bucks to earn them, either. It’s also possible to convert American Express Membership Rewards (MR) points from most MR cards into Flying Club points at a 2:1 rate. Especially when you look at Flying Club’s great redemption rates on ANA, that can be quite a compelling way to go. Provided you can find reward seat availability to suit, of course.

Exploring London Heathrow Airport

Arriving and departing at London Heathrow

Travelling from Australia to London is a rite of passage for many. And Heathrow Airport makes that possible, serving as the main gateway to London and the UK. Heathrow has four active terminals. They’re curiously numbered Terminal 2, Terminal 3, Terminal 4 and Terminal 5. What was previously Terminal 1 is no longer in operation – closed permanently to make way for the expansion of Terminal 2.

Whichever terminal you pass through, there are a couple of timesavers to remember. With an Australian passport, you can use the automated processing lanes. Some years ago, this was only possible after being approved for the UK’s Registered Traveller program. But this is now available with all Australian passports.

On departure, keep your eyes peeled for ‘fast track’ lanes at security. You’ll be able to use these if you’re a Business Class or First Class passenger. Or if you’re an eligible elite frequent flyer, depending on the policies of the airline you’re departing on.

From Heathrow, you can take the Underground into central London on the Piccadilly Line, as well as the newer Elizabeth Line. There’s also the speedy Heathrow Express, although fares are significantly higher than the Tube. Taxis, rideshare and other ground transportation services are also available.

Lounges at London Heathrow

London’s Heathrow Airport is home to a huge number of lounges across its four active terminals. You can’t move airside between the terminals as you can in places like Singapore, so you’ll need to use the lounges in the terminal you’re flying from.

We can’t list every single lounge – nor which lounge each airline uses by default for premium cabin passengers. But here’s a rundown of the lounges most relevant to Australian travellers when accessed via strategy. That is, by having the right frequent flyer status, lounge membership card or credit card rather than being provided entry via the ticket itself.

Qantas Gold, plus other oneworld Sapphire

  • American Airlines Admirals Club (Terminal 3).
  • British Airways Galleries Club lounges (multiple locations across Terminals 3 and 5).
  • Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge (Terminal 3).
  • Emirates Lounge (Terminal 3, when flying Emirates only).
  • Gulf Air Falcon Gold Lounge (Terminal 4, when flying Malaysia Airlines only).
  • The Qantas International London Lounge (Terminal 3).
  • Qatar Airways Frequent Flyer Lounge (Terminal 4, when flying Qatar Airways only).

Note that the Emirates Lounge in London is an exception to the usual partnership rules between Qantas and Emirates. Access is not available to Emirates’ London lounge when departing on a flight operated by Qantas.

Qantas Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge, plus other oneworld Emerald

  • All of the lounges in the previous section, with the following additions.
  • American Airlines International First Class Lounge (Terminal 3).
  • British Airways Galleries First lounges (Terminals 3 and 5).
  • Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge (Terminal 3).

Admirals Club and Qantas Club

  • American Airlines Admirals Club (Terminal 3).
  • The Qantas International London Lounge (Terminal 3).

Virgin Australia Velocity Gold, Platinum and Beyond

  • Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge (Terminal 2, when flying Air Canada only).
  • Club Aspire Lounge (Terminal 3, when flying Virgin Atlantic only).
  • The Etihad Lounge (Terminal 4, when flying Etihad Airways only).
  • Qatar Airways Frequent Flyer Lounge (Terminal 4, when flying Qatar Airways only).
  • Singapore Airlines SilverKris Business Class Lounge (Terminal 2, when flying Singapore Airlines only).
  • United Club (Terminal 2, when flying United only).
  • Virgin Atlantic Revivals Lounge (only for Velocity Platinum and Beyond – Terminal 2, when arriving on Virgin Atlantic only).

Star Alliance Gold

  • Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge (Terminal 2).
  • Lufthansa Business Lounge (Terminal 2).
  • Lufthansa Senator Lounge (Terminal 2).
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Terminal 2, when flying LOT Polish Airlines only).
  • Singapore Airlines SilverKris Business Class Lounge (Terminal 2).
  • United Club (Terminal 2).

SkyTeam Elite Plus

  • Club Aspire Lounge (Terminal 3, when flying on Aeromexico, Delta or Virgin Atlantic).
  • For other lounges now that SkyTeam’s London lounge has permanently closed, refer to the operating carrier.

American Express Platinum and Centurion

  • American Express Centurion Lounge (Terminal 3).
  • Blush Lounge by Plaza Premium (Terminal 4).
  • Lufthansa Business Lounge (Terminal 2, when flying Austrian, Lufthansa or SWISS only).
  • Lufthansa Senator Lounge (Terminal 2, when flying Business Class on the above airlines only).
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (multiple locations across all terminals).

Priority Pass

  • Blush Lounge by Plaza Premium (Terminal 4).
  • Club Aspire Lounge (Terminals 3 and 5).
  • No1 Lounge Heathrow (Terminal 3).
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Terminals 2, 4 and 5).

Other major London airports: Gatwick, City, Luton and Stansted

Heathrow is London’s busiest airport – and, no doubt, the best-known. Yet London is actually served by five airports. We’d be here all day if we went through every aspect of each one. But here are the basics if your journey takes you through an airport other than Heathrow.

  • London Gatwick Airport (LGW): The city’s alternative major airport. It is a secondary hub for British Airways and is also served by some international carriers, including Emirates, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines and more. Home to BA lounges and other independent lounge operators.
  • London City Airport (LCY): A small airport with a limited number of short-haul flights and no airport lounges. But it’s also the most conveniently located for those departing from London’s financial district. It was also formerly home to the now-defunct British Airways all-Business-Class flights to New York JFK, which operated from the City as BA1.
  • London Luton Airport (LTN): The springboard across Europe for EasyJet and Wizz Air passengers, and a secondary hub of Ryanair. One independent Aspire Lounge is open to Priority Pass members.
  • London Stansted Airport (STN): The London hub of low-cost carrier Ryanair, as well as being served by a number of European carriers, plus Emirates. Features an independent Escape Lounge accessible via Priority Pass.

As you may notice, some airlines serve multiple airports. BA serves Heathrow, Gatwick and City, while Emirates serves Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. If given the choice, consider which airport will be closer to your final destination in London, as this may save you time on the ground. Alternatively, you may secure a cheaper fare from one of those secondary airports than from the likes of Heathrow.

Earning and using points on hotels in London

If there’s a hotel chain you know the name of, chances are, they have properties in London. The city is a magnet for business travellers and leisure guests, so there are hotels to suit every budget.

Here are just some of the ways you can earn rewards on your accommodation.

Book directly with the hotel

Personally, booking directly with a hotel is usually my go-to move. It means being able to earn points in a hotel’s own loyalty program, which paves the way to cheaper or even free hotel stays in the future. It’s also the best way to earn and retain elite status with hotel chains, unlocking free room upgrades, daily breakfast and more.

As well, many hotel programs don’t reward stays booked via third parties. And for that matter, many won’t even provide the benefits of any elite status you hold if you haven’t booked directly. So if you’re seeking benefits or more ‘nights’, ‘stays’ or ‘status points’ in your hotel loyalty account, booking direct is the way to go.

You’ll find properties across London attached to major programs like Accor Live Limitless, Hilton Honors, IHG One Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy, Radisson Rewards, Shangri-La Circle and more. And these programs aren’t just great for earning points. They’re terrific for spending points as well.

Case in point: I’m writing this on a quick UK visit for a black-tie event at His Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London. I want a hotel conveniently close to the venue, not one where I have to take a half-hour Tube ride in my tuxedo. I find a hotel nearby: the DoubleTree by Hilton – Tower of London. But, eep, it’s about AU$1,200 for my two-night stay. Fortunately, though, I can book the same room for 120,000 Hilton Honors points. Effectively, my stay costs nothing – and I even get free breakfast thanks to my Hilton Honors status. As I say, book direct and start earning those points!

Book through a third-party provider

It doesn’t always make sense to book directly with a hotel. Maybe you’re only planning to stay once with that chain – or you’re booking a smaller boutique property that doesn’t have a loyalty program. This is where third-party booking platforms can help you earn rewards on your London accommodation.

If you want to earn Qantas Points

Book your stay through Qantas Hotels to earn at least three Qantas Points per AUD spent. Points Club members get even more with a 25% points bonus, while those in Points Club Plus get 50% more. Keep your eyes peeled for bonus points deals as well. At times, you might be able to earn triple points – that’s nine Qantas Points per dollar spent!

You can also use your Qantas Points to book hotel stays. It’s generally not the best use of points, but can be beneficial if you’d rather save your cash and cash in those points. Qantas also recently reduced the number of points required for some hotel bookings by 30-45% to increase the appeal of this option. We still think flight bookings provide the best value, though.

If you want to earn Velocity Points

Are you more in the Virgin Australia camp? Velocity’s tie-up with Rocket Travel lets you accrue three Velocity Points per dollar spent when you book through the Velocity-Rocket Travel portal. Bonus points offers can pop up on occasion as well.

If you want to earn KrisFlyer miles

If you’re looking for KrisFlyer miles instead, Rocketmiles is for you. This isn’t a direct-earning option with KrisFlyer, but you’ll earn points that can later become KrisFlyer miles. Or, for that matter, into frequent flyer points with over 50 other programs.

CBA Awards credit card holders could also book through Kaligo to earn rewards. This takes place by earning bonus CBA Awards points on those transactions and later transferring those CBA Awards points across to KrisFlyer. This option is good when chasing Velocity Points too, which can also be converted from CBA Awards points.

If you want exclusive benefits at luxury hotels

If you have an Amex Platinum Card or Centurion Card, don’t forget about American Express’ Fine Hotels + Resorts (FHR) program. Booking through FHR provides a great amount of extra value with each stay. Benefits like free daily breakfast, guaranteed 4 pm check-out, a property bill credit, room upgrades, and more are usually standard – even without having elite hotel status.

If you want to save on the cost of accommodation

Speaking of American Express, some premium cards provide an annual travel credit. This is effectively a travel voucher that can be cashed in through American Express Travel. You pay for the booking using the card, and the value of the voucher is credited back to your statement within a few days.

Currently, the following American Express Cards offer an annual travel credit:

Our final tips and tricks

Have your journey all mapped out? Here are a few final tips to get your London trip off to a flying start.

  • If you’re trying to find flights using points, be sure to search all of London’s major airports, at least if you know that the airport is served by your airline of interest. You may be able to find seats at Gatwick but not at Heathrow, for instance. And as long as you land in London on the right day, a slightly longer airport transfer is a small price to pay for finding a suitable reward seat.
  • If you include London on a multi-city trip, consider flying into the UK initially but out of another country to get home. That’s because the UK Government charges Air Passenger Duty on flight departures from the UK. The charge is highest for long-haul flights and those travelling in premium cabins. By comparison, APD is the minimum in Economy on a short flight across Europe. This could save you hundreds of dollars in tax per passenger.
  • If you can’t find reward flights to suit you, try our new Point Hacks Concierge service. We’ll do the legwork for you in tracking down those hard-to-find reward seats.
  • Once you’re in London, it’s incredibly easy to get around. You can simply tap your credit card on the ticket barriers to ride the Tube, bus and other transport. Just be sure to use the same card – or the same device – to tap on and off for each trip. Oh, and ‘mind the gap’ (sorry, couldn’t resist…).

Feature image courtesy of John Smith/Pexels.

How to hack your way to London with points was last modified: December 13th, 2023 by Chris Chamberlin