The ability to use air miles to redeem long-haul aircraft on short-haul flights has always been of particular interest to me. This has been made possible through something called ‘fifth freedom’ flights.
Before we take a closer look at fifth freedom flights, let’s explore a couple of the benefits of long-haul aircraft compared with their short-haul counterparts.
Whilst I’m always happy to travel in BA Club Europe (essentially BA European Business Class – reviewed here) it’s some way off the experience you’d receive if you’d booked a similar class ticket on a ‘long-haul’ flight between say London and New York.
Short-haul flights tend to nearly always offer an economy style of seat in Business Class albeit with an empty middle seat. If you’re travelling on a narrow-bodied plane (Embraer 170, etc.) you won’t even get that – see my picture below! This compares to the BA Club World seat which has the option to be turned into a fully flat bed and benefits from in-flight entertainment (movies, etc.) alongside the likes of charging points and additional storage.
With the same number of air miles required regardless of the plane being a long- or short-haul aircraft, you’d feel as though you were getting significantly better value redeeming one over the other…
A couple of months ago I took a fifth freedom flight between Cyprus and Malta to experience the Emirates First-Class suite. Read on to find out how you too can experience Dom Perignon and Beef Wellington at 35,000 ft in your own private suite using the points earned from signing up to the American Express Gold card on a Fifth Freedom flight…
So what exactly are fifth freedom flights?
A fifth freedom flight allows an airline from one country to fly between two different countries. This essentially means that it will stop somewhere on the way to its final destination and will both drop off passengers and take on new passengers before continuing.
An example of this would be LATAM airlines flying from Chile to Frankfurt and then on to Madrid. Should you wish you could purchase a ticket for the Frankfurt to Madrid leg to experience the not so well known LATAM Business Class for £102.
You’d also earn 40 Tier Points and around 1,000 Avios points. Alternatively you could redeem 15,000 Avios points plus £17.20 of taxes.
Fifth freedom flights shouldn’t be confused with second freedom flights which allow an airline to stop for fuel or maintenance without disembarking passengers or cargo.
Why might this be of importance?
As I touched upon, it’s possible to redeem either Avios or American Express Membership Rewards points on a number of these routes, allowing you to travel in luxury for next to nothing and, if you’re an aviation geek like me, experience airlines you may not otherwise have the chance to fly with…
List of all current fifth freedom flights Europe
It’s extremely challenging keeping up to date with all of the fifth freedom flights as they seem to change frequently. The US website flypointyend does a great job of keeping a regular list which we’d recommend checking – found here.
Below I’ve listed all of the fifth freedom routes that start and end in Europe.
|Emirates||Larnaca to Malta||None|
|Ethiopian||Stockholm to Oslo||Star Alliance|
|Hainan Airlines||Dublin to Edinburgh||None|
|LATAM||Madrid to Frankfurt||oneworld|
|MIAT Mongolian Airlines||Berlin to Moscow||None|
|Korean Air||Vienna to Zurich||SkyTeam|
|Kuwait Airlines||Frankfurt to Geneva||None|
|Singapore Airlines||Moscow to Stockholm||Star Alliance|
Further fifth freedom flights which begin in Europe are set out below.
|Air China||Madrid to Sao Paulo||Star Alliance|
|Air India||London Heathrow to New York||Star Alliance|
|Air New Zealand||London Heathrow to Los Angeles||Star Alliance|
|Emirates||Athens to New York||None|
|Emirates||Milan to New York||None|
|Ethiopian||Dublin to Los Angeles||Star Alliance|
|Eva Airways||Amsterdam to Bangkok||Star Alliance|
|Eva Airways||Vienna to Bangkok||Star Alliance|
|Eva Airways||London Heathrow to Bangkok||Star Alliance|
|Jet Airways||Amsterdam to Toronto||Virgin Partner|
|Qantas||London Heathrow to Singapore||oneworld|
|Singapore Airlines||Manchester to Houston||Star Alliance|
|Singapore Airlines||Frankfurt to New York||Star Alliance|
For fifth freedom routes which are part of the oneworld alliance you’d be able to use Avios points to redeem directly through the British Airways website. Alternatively you could use Membership Rewards points to book Star Alliance partners as well as Emirates. I used 30,000 American Express Rewards points when I redeemed my First Class Emirates suite experience between Cyprus and Malta. You’d earn 10,000 points by simply signing up to the card and spending £3,000 in the first three months. Read my full review of the credit card here to learn more.
BA fifth freedom flights
British Airways also offers a number of international BA fifth freedom flights which provide an excellent opportunity to redeem Avios points to experience either the BA Club World (reviewed here) or BA First Class experience (reviewed here). One further plus is that the taxes on these flights are capped by Reward Flight Saver, meaning you’ll never pay more than £50 for return taxes.
BA fifth freedom flights and associated Avios points are as follows:
|Economy Avios (one way)||Business Avios|
|Grand Cayman to Nassau||4,500||9,000||18,000|
|St Lucia to Grenada||4,500||9,000||18,000|
|St Lucia to Port of Spain||4,500||9,000||18,000|
|Antigua to Turks & Caicos||7,500||15,000||30,000|
|Antigua to Tobago||4,500||9,000||18,000|
|Antigua to St Kitts||4,500||9,000|
Whilst not a fifth freedom flight, one final tip for redeeming long-haul flights with taxes capped at £35-£50 by Reward Flight Saver would be the Heathrow to Moscow route. On certain flights you’ll have the delight of flying on the BA Boeing 777 which features both Business and First Class. Sound interesting? Read my recent BA First Class review (found here) which provides a step-by-step guide to earn enough points for 2 First-Class flights to Moscow (and various other places!!).
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