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Fifth freedom routes have always interested me. I’m not exactly sure what the draw is about flying a carrier that is foreign to both your origin and destination, but there certainly is one. At least for me.
There are a few lists of fifth freedom routes flying around, but this is the one tend to go to when looking for a specific route. Most of the routes that get a lot of press either originate or terminate in the U.S. But don’t let that stop you from finding other interesting ones around the world.
The 5 fifth freedom routes I’d like to fly someday
- Vancouver to New York on Cathay Pacific – This route is a great way to experience Cathay business or first class for substantially less than a transpacific flight. You can fly business for 25,000 Alaska miles, or sit in first for 35,000 miles one-way. If you have AA miles to burn, business class is fairly reasonably priced at 30,000 miles.
- New York to Frankfurt on Singapore – This is one of the most popular fifth freedom routes, not to mention one of the most aspirational. As Singapore’s only suites-class route that touches the U.S., it goes without saying that it is highly popular. An award will set you back 67,500 miles plus taxes and fees. At least you won’t pay fuel surcharges soon (SEE: 3 big Singapore KrisFlyer devaluations (and a possible silver lining)). Good luck finding availability, though.
- Los Angeles to Papeete on Air France – The cultural ties between France and French Polynesia are the driving force behind this unique route. After arriving in Los Angeles from Paris CDG, Air France’s Boeing 777 continues onward to Tahiti. Interestingly enough, Air Tahiti Nui flies the same route, including the same stop in LAX, in reverse.
- Madrid to Frankfurt on LAN – I picked this route since it would be a great way to try a premium cabin without paying premium prices. Round-trip tickets in business class between these two cities are often very reasonably priced on LAN. Google Flights shows cash prices of $240 in business for tons of dates over the next several months. The coolest part: you’re flying a Boeing 787 with a lie-flat product on what would normally be served by a more typical regional aircraft.
- Los Angeles to Dublin on Ethiopian – Maybe it’s just because Ethiopian decided to connect California and Addis Ababa via Dublin of all places, but I think this is one of the coolest fifth freedom routes out there. It is flown by one of Ethiopian’s Boeing 787s. There is often a good amount of award space in both economy and business class.
There are many more great fifth freedom routes out there, including Los Angeles to London on Air New Zealand, New York to Milan (and currently launching Newark to Athens) on Emirates, and San Francisco to Hong Kong on Singapore. If you look beyond routes originating or terminating in the U.S., there are many, many more.
Where did the term ‘fifth freedom’ come from anyway?
I’ve known what fifth freedom is in practice, but I’ve never really know the exact definition. Or where the term ‘fifth freedom’ comes from. It turns out the term comes from the ‘Nine Freedoms of the Air’ as part of the Manual on the Regulation of International Air Transport. Since the 5th item in the list of freedoms relates to these situations, the routes have been dubbed ‘fifth freedom’ routes. From the manual:
“The Fifth Freedom of the Air is the right or privilege, in respect of scheduled international air services, granted by one State to another State to put down and to take on, in the territory of the first State, traffic coming from or destined to a third State (also known as a Fifth Freedom Right).”
Is less confusing language, it is simply the privilege to provide air service between two countries of which neither is the airline’s home country.
What do you think of fifth freedom routes? Do you find them as interesting as I do?
Ethiopian 787 image courtesy of Brussels Airport under CC 2.0 license.
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GRU to BCN on SQ
British Airways used to fly AUH-MCT and BAH-DOH and they were perfect for mileage runs but sadly those flights no longer operate as those cities now all have direct flights to London.
That Cathay flight from YVR-JFK is great too.
SQ stopped the GRU-BCN route. :/
“Is less confusing language, it is simply the privilege to provide air service between two countries of which neither is the airline’s home country.”
Ah but that’s not the same as fifth freedom. Fifth freedom rights are the privilege to operate service between two countries of which neither is the airline’s home country **on a flight originating or ending in the airline’s home country**. The fifth freedom leg must be a continuation of a flight from the home country and it must use the same flight number as the flight from/to home.
The privilege to operate between two foreign countries without the flight originating/ending in the home country is the Seventh Freedom. That’s exceedingly rare and to my knowledge only exists within EU Open Skies and open skies agreements with the EU. The most well known seventh freedom flights are probably Norwegian’s services from London Gatwick and Paris CDG to the US.
Great clarification! It is totally true that the flight has to be an “add-on leg” to another flight originating in the home country. The distinction is in my head, but didn’t get relayed.
You can see I didn’t read past freedom #5…
I recently flew QR from PNH to SGN on their A333
I think Phillipines Airlines flies from JFK to YVR too?
How did you leave off Emirates JFK-EXP?
‘Cause it isn’t in my top 5! That one closely follows these, though. I know it’s a route many people are interested in. Plus, I am based on the west coast. Thus, the 2 LAX routes.
Delta from Manila to Narita
I always forget Delta has a “micro-hub” of sorts in Tokyo.
How full is that AF LAX – PPT flight?
For me, and I bet for most people, the fascination is in trying an exotic airline. People who rarely or never fly to Asia can experience Cathay service YVR–JFK or Singapore JFK–FRA!
Or the price.
The KLM flight from AUH-MCT is much cheaper than Oman air or Etihad.
I know it is not on your top five list – possibly because it is a long way away – but the Emirates route from Larnaca, Cyprus to Malta is a great route. Fares in Business or First are not cheap though so the way to sample this route is using points. Buy a cheap Economy ticket and upgrade. As is often the case in Europe, a return ticket is usually cheaper than a one way.
GRU to EZE at TK or QR