It’s a common misconception that international airlines ONLY fly to and from their home country. Many airlines fly what are known as “fifth freedom” routes. I’ll save the history lesson for another time but in short, airlines are guaranteed the right to fly between two foreign countries en route to or originating from their home country.
That sounds very complicated but let me give you an example to better explain this concept.
If you find yourself sitting a a gate at the George Bush International Airport in Houston, Texas, you may notice a Singapore Airlines airplane. If you were asked to guess the destination of the flight, you would probably assume that it would fly direct from Houston to Singapore. Ironically, the flight departs Houston en route to Manchester, England.
Some fifth freedom routes will be on planes with outdated cabins but you can also find routes that can offer great value for a mileage redemption.
These are the 4 “fifth freedom routes” that I’m most interested in experiencing this year. The mileage figures are for one-way awards and formatted as Economy/Premium Economy/Business/First.
FIFTH FREEDOM ROUTES
#1 Fifth Freedom Redemption
Although, Alaska Airlines isn’t part of an alliance, it has long been known that they partner with several carriers that offer great redemptions and the flooring example is a great way to experience a phenomenal premium cabin without spending a lot of miles. Try this one on for size…
Airline: Cathay Pacific
Route: New York (JFK) – Vancouver, British Columbia
Type of Plane: Boeing 777
Cheapest Way To Book: Alaska (17.5k / 20k / 25k / 35k miles)
#2 Fifth Freedom Redemption
Many of my “bucket list destinations” can be found in Africa so the pot is a bit sweeter when I am able to redeem miles for a premium cabin. The combination of an energetic and fast-paced city with incredible people, great music, beautiful coastlines, and great cuisine make this a sure bet.
Airline: South African Airways
Route: Washington, DC – Dakar, Senegal
Type of Plane: Airbus A330
Cheapest way to book: ANA (32.5k / 52k miles)
#3 Fifth Freedom Redemption
Singapore Airlines always offers a great product…period! This flight is fascinating because it’s on the A350 plane, a personal favorite of mine, and Singapore doesn’t apply surcharges so to the ticket which means you’ll only pay $5.60. WIN!
Airline: Singapore Airlines
Route: Houston – Manchester, United Kingdom
Type of Plane: Airbus A350
Cheapest way to book: Singapore (22.5k /45k /65k miles)
#4 Fifth Freedom Redemption
It could be argued but I think this redemption is on every AVgeek’s bucketist. This route is known as the “island hopper.” You only stop at each island for a very short time before continuing onto the next destination. You are able to build in stopovers but take note that some specific legs are not operated daily. If you plan a stopover, you may be confined to that island for a more than 2 days.
Route: Honolulu-Majuro-Kwajalein Atoll-Kosrae-Pohnpei-Truk-Guam
Type of Plane: Boeing 737
Cheapest way to book: United (25k / 50k miles)
There are A LOT of fifth freedom routes around the world. If you are interested in experiencing the ones mentioned above (or any other fifth freedom routes), I would encourage you do a search. You can experience get airlines while getting a “discount” on the amount of miles you spend.
Has anyone experienced a great fifth freedom route? Unusual fifth freedom route? Terrible Fifth freedom?