A Comparison of Direct Flights from San Francisco to London

by Allie d'Almo  |  Published August 1, 2022

With an average direct flight time of 10 hours and 23 minutes and prices as low as 480 dollars, it’s possible to travel between San Francisco and London quickly and affordably. 

Photo by Riik@mctr via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

There are currently 5-6 direct flights running between San Francisco and London daily and an average of 312 indirect flights per week. Most flights depart from San Francisco Airport (SFO) and arrive at London Heathrow (LHR), though there are direct flights to London Gatwick (LGW) and London City (LCY) airports. If you’re thinking about flying between these showstopping cities, we’ve analysed the best direct flight options between San Francisco and London, taking into consideration prices, departure times and onboard facilities and amenities. While there are many more indirect flights to choose from, we’ve omitted these options from our analysis given the impact of take-off and landing on carbon footprint and the frequency of direct flights. 

United Airlines 

United Airlines offers the earliest flight from San Francisco, which makes it the best option for those looking to arrive in London early in the morning. Currently, flights depart at 12:30 pm and arrive at London Heathrow Airport at 06:55 am, just in time for the working day. The airline offers the greatest variety of flight departure times too, with three flights every day. Prices are significantly cheaper than other airlines, with prices for a one-way ticket from $480 and $639 return for Basic Economy. It’s an excellent option if you’re looking to travel light, but costs can add up quickly if you need to add checked baggage, seat selection and change fees. The airline currently offers four tickets: Basic Economy, Economy, Premium Economy and Business. There is no first-class ticket option. Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines and Brussels Airlines also sell this flight. 

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British Airways 

British Airways offers the most affordable return flight tickets, though one-way tickets are marginally more expensive than United Airlines. Return flights start at just $550 for a basic economy ticket, though you’ll need to pay an additional $30-50 each way to put your baggage in hold. The airline offers one direct afternoon flight per day on Monday and Thursday and two direct afternoon flights every other day of the week. American Airlines, Iberia and Finnair sell these flights too. Like United Airlines, British Airways only offers Business Class tickets on direct flights between San Francisco and London. If you’re looking to travel first class, you’ll need to book a connecting flight. Otherwise, you can choose from Economy Basic, Economy Standard, Premium Economy and Business Class. 

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Virgin Atlantic 

Virgin Atlantic currently offers two direct flights daily from San Francisco to London Heathrow. If you’re looking to make the most of your final day in The Golden City, Virgin Atlantic offers the best departure time, with flights at 22:20 and arriving in London at 16:30 the following day. Delta, KLM and Air France sell this flight too. Virgin Atlantic is also the only option that offers Upper Class (first-class) seating, which makes it the best option for luxury travellers. Unlike British Airways and United Airlines, the most basic ticket includes 23 kg of checked baggage. In Economy Classic, you’ll also get complimentary dining, free seat selection, inflight entertainment and an in-seat USB connection. WiFI is available on Virgin Atlantic flights for $5.99 per hour or around $21 for the entire flight.

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