All You Want to Know About 5th Freedom Flights

October 13, 2016

5th freedom of the air refers to the right of commercial aircraft to fly and carry revenue traffic between two foreign countries on a flight originating or ending in one's country, as defined by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

 

An example is the Singapore Airlines flight SQ26 from Singapore (SIN) to Frankfurt (FRA) to New York (JFK) and the inbound flight SQ25 from New York (JFK) to Frankfurt (FRA) to Singapore. Passengers may purchase tickets and fly solely the sectors between Frankfurt and New York.

 

I have always been intrigued by 5th freedom flights. 5th freedom flights provide a different inflight experience from the "standard" airlines plying the same route. Often, airlines operate short regional 5th freedom flights as a connection to their long-haul flight services, and thus offer an often more superior long-haul product versus the usually short-haul aircraft and products utilized by local carriers plying the same route.

 Extra frills of flying on 5th freedom flights may include:

  • Travelling on a widebody aircraft

  • Better seating and legroom tailored for long-haul flying

  • Provision of long-haul amenities (amenity kits, blankets, pillows, bathroom amenities)

  • Greater entertainment options (AVOD entertainment, in-seat power)

  • Enhanced food and beverage options (long-haul meal service standard, availability of spirits and liquor)

 In addition, 5th freedom flying is a great way to sample the services and inflight product of an airline without the need to travel to its hub. For culture vultures, 5th freedom flying also provides a quick immersion into the local culture of the country that the carrier is based in.

 

These may include:

  • meals featuring cuisine inspired by the airline's home country

  • exclusive beverage options (wines, beers, juices, and other drinks sourced from the airline's home country)

  • service standards and procedures, cultural nuances in cabin service and crew interaction rooted in the airline's and its home country's culture

  • entertainment options featuring local films and music from the airline's home country

Having mentioned some of the great reasons to fly on 5th freedom flights, on the downside, 5th freedom flights may not provide the best flight schedules for time-tight travelers. Often, these flights are constrained by the availability of airport slots and pressures from local competition may relegate foreign airlines to less desirable time slots for their 5th freedom connections. There also might be a greater risk of flight delays as the 5th freedom sector is subject to the punctuality of the previous inbound sector. If you purchase 5th freedom flight tickets, it might be a good idea to give yourself some buffer time in your travel plans in the event of a delay.

 

That said, with less desirable/limited flight schedules and unfamiliarity within the local market, 5th freedom flights are often attractively priced below (sometimes by a wide margin) the standard airlines operating the route. With some flexibility in your travel plan, in flying with 5th freedom flights, you can enjoy monetary cost-savings whilst experiencing the comfort of a long-haul product on your next trip!

So why airlines fly 5th freedom routes instead of provide non-stop connections? In the past, 5th freedom flights were very popular with airlines because the aircraft of the old days just did not have the range to fly non-stop to faraway destinations. With the advancement of aviation technology, airlines are able to leverage on modern airliners to bypass their previous transit cities to fly non-stop to their end destinations. In addition, the plethora of code-share agreements signed between airlines means that airlines no longer need to serve every destination with their own metal.

 

However, 5th freedom flights still remain useful for airlines to serve certain destinations that might not be economically viable to justify a non-stop flight, until today. By combining two regional destinations into a single flight, airlines can save costs of operating two separate flights. Perhaps, for prestige reasons or pressures from their native governments, airlines may want to maintain their own services to a particular country and destination. Airlines may also leverage on air traffic rights agreements to enter their competitors' markets with 5th freedom flights to gain market share. Whatever the reason, it is good news for that 5th freedom flights are here to stay.

 After this brief introduction to 5th freedom flying, here is a collection of 5th freedom flights I've had the pleasure of travelling on, segregated by geographical regions they are operated in. Enjoy!

 

Intercontinental

Singapore Airlines flight SQ16 from Seoul (Incheon) (ICN) to San Francisco (SFO)

- Economy Class

Operated with the Boeing 777-300ER

Singapore Airlines flight SQ15 from San Francisco (SFO) to Seoul (Incheon) (ICN)

- Economy Class

Operated with the Boeing 777-300ER

Ethiopian Airlines flight ET506 from Lomé (LFW) to São Paulo (GRU) - Economy Class

Operated with the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner

Ethiopian Airlines flight ET507 from São Paulo (GRU) to Lomé (LFW) - Economy Class

Operated with the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner

 Within Asia

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flight KL836 from Denpasar (Bali) (DPS) to Singapore (SIN)

- Economy Class

Operated with the Boeing 777-200ER

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flight KL809 from Kuala Lumpur (KUL) to Jakarta (CGK)

- Economy Class

Operated with the Boeing 777-300ER

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flight KL810 from Jakarta (CGK) to Kuala Lumpur (KUL)

- Economy Class

Operated with the Boeing 777-300ER

Lufthansa flight LH782 from Kuala Lumpur (KUL) to Jakarta (CGK) - Economy Class

Operated with the Airbus 340-300

Lufthansa flight LH783 from Jakarta (CGK) to Kuala Lumpur (KUL) - Economy Class

Operated with the Airbus 340-300

Cathay Pacific Airways flight CX713 from Bangkok (BKK) to Singapore (SIN)

- Economy Class

Operated with the Boeing 777-200

Cathay Pacific Airways flight CX712 from Singapore (SIN) to Bangkok (BKK)

- Business Class

Operated with the Boeing 777-300

Oman Air flight WY823 from Kuala Lumpur (KUL) to Singapore (SIN) - Economy Class

Operated with the Airbus 330-300

Oman Air flight WY823 from Singapore (SIN) to Kuala Lumpur (KUL) - Economy Class

Operated with the Airbus 330-200

Oman Air flight WY823 from Singapore (SIN) to Kuala Lumpur (KUL) - Economy Class

Operated with the Airbus 330-300

Ethiopian Airlines flight ET627 from Singapore (SIN) to Bangkok (BKK) - Economy Class

Operated with the Boeing 767-300ER

Ethiopian Airlines flight ET626 from Bangkok (BKK) to Singapore (SIN) - Economy Class

Operated with the Boeing 767-300ER

Jetstar Airways flight JQ64 from Osaka (Kansai) (KIX) to Singapore (SIN)

- Business Class

Operated with the Airbus 330-200

 Jetstar Airways flight JQ63 from Singapore (SIN) to Osaka (Kansai) (KIX)

- Business Class

Operated with the Airbus 330-200

Jetstar Asia Airways flight 3K509 from Bangkok (BKK) to Fukuoka (FUK)

- Economy Class

Operated with the Airbus 320-200

 Jetstar Asia Airways flight 3K510 from Fukuoka (FUK) to Bangkok (BKK)

- Economy Class

Operated with the Airbus 320-200

Qantas Airways flight QF82 from Singapore (SIN) to Jakarta (CGK) - Economy Class

Operated with the Airbus 330-300

Qantas Airways flight QF41 from Jakarta (CGK) to Singapore (SIN) - Economy Class

Operated with the Airbus 330-300

United Airlines flight UA896 from Singapore (SIN) to Hong Kong (HKG) - Economy Class

Operated with the Boeing 777-200ER

United Airlines flight UA896 from Singapore (SIN) to Hong Kong (HKG) - Economy Class

Operated with the Boeing 777-200ER

United Airlines flight UA895 from Hong Kong (HKG) to Singapore (SIN) - Economy Class

Operated with the Boeing 777-200ER

United Airlines flight UA895 from Hong Kong (HKG) to Singapore (SIN) - Economy Class

Operated with the Boeing 777-200ER

Air France flight AF259 from Jakarta (CGK) to Singapore (SIN) - Business Class

Operated with the Boeing 777-300ER

Air France flight AF259 from Jakarta (CGK) to Singapore (SIN) - Economy Class

Operated with the Boeing 777-300ER

Air France flight AF259 from Jakarta (CGK) to Singapore (SIN) - Economy Class

Operated with the Boeing 777-300ER

Air France flight AF259 from Jakarta (CGK) to Singapore (SIN) - Economy Class

Operated with the Boeing 777-300ER

Air France flight AF259 from Jakarta (CGK) to Singapore (SIN) - Economy Class

Operated with the Boeing 777-300ER

Air France flight AF254 from Singapore (SIN) to Jakarta (CGK) - Economy Class

Operated with the Boeing 777-300ER

Air France flight AF254 from Singapore (SIN) to Jakarta (CGK) - Economy Class

Operated with the Boeing 777-300ER

Air France flight AF254 from Singapore (SIN) to Jakarta (CGK) - Economy Class

Operated with the Boeing 777-300ER

Within South America

Air Canada flight AC92 from Santiago de Chile (SCL) to Buenos Aires (EZE)

- Economy Class

Operated with the Boeing 777-300ER

Emirates flight EK248 from Buenos Aires (EZE) to Rio de Janeiro (GIG) - Economy Class

Operated with the Boeing 777-300ER

Emirates flight EK247 from Rio de Janeiro (GIG) to Buenos Aires (EZE) - Economy Class

Operated with the Boeing 777-300ER

LAN Perú flight LP2427 from Buenos Aires (EZE) to Santiago de Chile (SCL)

- Economy Class

Operated with the Boeing 767-300ER

Within Europe

Qatar Airways flight QR948 from Zagreb (ZAG) to Budapest (BUD) - Business Class

Operated with the Airbus 320-200

 

 

 

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