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Cool Fifth Freedom Routes to Take Advantage of In 2024

Sam Helmy
Fifth, freedom routes are a great option for aviation fans to sample the pleasures of airlines that do not typically operate in their geographical area. It’s a great way to fly a North American airline from Europe to Asia or a European Airline from Africa to Asia.

Fifth Freedom Routes are one of the best ways to try airlines that you would not usually get to use due to geographical travel considerations. The fact, an Asian-based airline operates routes between Europe and the US. Or a North American Airline operating flights between Asia and Europe is a massive bonus for any aviation fan who wants to sample some of the best airline products around. So, what are the fifth freedom routes, and what are some of the best options around?

What Are Fifth Freedom Routes?

Fifth Freedom Routes is a quirk of the airline industry where an airline will stop in a foreign country to pick up passengers before carrying them on to the final third country. The best way to illustrate a fifth freedom route is via an example. Imagine, for instance, the Emirates wishes to operate a flight to New York JFK from Dubai.

The airline has two options. First, the airline can opt to fly directly to and from New York.

Alternatively, after getting regulatory approval, Emirates could fly to London from Dubai and continue using fifth freedom route privileges to New York. Doing so means you can buy a ticket to fly Emirates, a UAE carrier, on a route between a US and UK city paring.

In essence, a fifth freedom is when an airline of a third country is operating a flight between two other countries. However, the flight has to be part of an itinerary starting in the airline’s home country. So, in the above example, the aircraft would have to start its journey in The UAE every time.

London LHR to Mumbai BOM with Air Canada

There is no better way to start our list than with one of our favorite airlines around, Air Canada.

The fifth freedom route from London Heathrow LHR to Mumbai BOM is the perfect opportunity to experience the delight of Air Canada while not being based in North America.  

In the last year at Oscape Air Canada, Signature Class has been a revelation, providing some stunning service and amazing quality. In the previous year of our multiple journeys, the one from Montreal to Sao Paulo was particularly memorable. We’ve also gone to Casablanca and to Tokyo on additional trips since then. Across the board, Air Canada has gone above and beyond in terms of service and has upped their game, including offering an excellent new amenity kit for 2024.

Air Canada’s Signature Class is simply stunning

This fifth freedom route originates in Toronto before stopping at Heathrow and then carrying on to Mumbai. Using this route is an ideal way to fly Air Canada without heading over the Atlantic. Coming from India, it is also a great way to position in London from Mumbai before carrying on your journey with another airline.  

Air Canada Business Class on a Boeing 787-9

What makes this route exceptional value is how much it will set you back in miles. Both London and Mumbai are within What Air Canada classes as the Atlantic zone for award purposes. A quick look at the Air Canada award chart reveals that you will only need 60,000 Aeroplan points for an Air Canada Signature Class award, plus taxes and fees.

Milan MXP to New York JFK With Emirates Airlines

Another legend in the world of fifth freedom routs is the route between Milan MXP and New York JFK with Emirates. This route is the perfect opportunity to try some of the Best features on offer from Emirates.

Currently, Emirates operates an Airbus A380 on this route. This gives you the option to try not only Emirates’ excellent business class but also its world-beating first-class service.

Emirates first class suites on the A380 - image courtesy of
Emirates first class suites on the A380 – image courtesy of

Where the Emirates A380 stands out amongst its peers is the shower and Spa feature. The ability to have a shower on board an aircraft at 35,000 feet is truly a unique and weird fun experience that you can only have by flying first class on an Emirates A380.

Emirates first class shower and spa on the A380 - image courtesy of
Emirates first class shower and spa on the A380 – image courtesy of

Booking premium cabins on this flight can be a little tricky since you have to be smart and strategic. Keep in mind that Emirates hardly releases First-class award space to partners, and not all partners get the same availability. While you have several options for booking Emirates business class. When it comes to first-class awards, you can only book them in one of three ways:

  • Directly with Emirates Skywards.
  • Booking with Air Canada Aeroplan.
  • Use Qantas Frequent Flyer Points.

One thing to remember is whichever way you choose to use to book an Emirates first-class award, it’s going to set you back a ton of points. However, you look at it. That said, this is still one of the best experiences you can have on a fifth freedom route!

Other Similar Routes

Emirates also operates these similar routes:

  • Athens ATH to Newark EWR
  • Miami MIA to Bogota BOG

Fifth Freedom Legend: Frankfurt FRA to New York JFK on Singapore Airlines

Say Fifth Freedom to any points and miles or aviation fan; the first thing that will pop into their mind is Singapore Airlines from Frankfurt to New York.

This route is legendary and was one of the first major fifth freedom routes and is arguably the most famous and well-known, not to mention the most sought-after in the aviation world.

JFK to FRA is a great way to sample the delights of Singapore Airlines
JFK to FRA is a great way to sample the delights of Singapore Airlines

Oscape flew this route in 2023 on the way back from Japan, and the experience lived up to its name well and truly. Despite being exhausted by traveling from Japan to Vietnam and then on to Germany, the experience and quality of service on Singapore Airlines was outstanding and cannot be faulted.

As expected, there is no comparison between it and the service you receive on most North American and European airlines.

When it comes to booking this as an award flight, you have plenty of options to book in with Singapore or via any of its Alliance partners. If you are based in the US, using United miles can be a good option. However, it is not the best value, and you will end up paying a heavy price for your award. You can book the award using Aeroplan points, and a oneway award in business class will set you back 60,000 points plus taxes and fees since the flight is under 4,000 miles.  

Frankfurt to New York on Singapore Business class for 60,000 points is a steal
Frankfurt to New York on Singapore Business class for 60,000 points is a steal.

Other Similar Routes

Singapore Airlines also operates these similar routes:

  • Los Angeles LAX to Tokyo NRT
  • Los Angeles LAX to Taipei TPE
  • San Francisco SFO to Hong Kong HKG
  • Houston IAH to Manchester MAN

Honorable Mention: Bangkok BKK to Singapore SIN on Gulf Air

It’s worth mentioning a short route that Oscape flew at the end of 2023 – from Singapore SIN to Bangkok BKK Thailand on Gulf Airlines 165.

This route is flown in a B787-900, and is roughly a two hour flight within Asia that features the Gulf Air Apex Suites business class cabin.

These are incredibly private and spacious suites, with great views out of the aircraft.

This flight can be booked for under $400 USD in cash, or 15,000 Aeroplan Points.

While the soft product is nothing exceptional, the Apex Suite is one of the best and most unique ways to fly in Business Class. We’ll have a review out for this soon.

Final Thoughts

There are multiple fifth freedom routes dotted around the world. While some are so-so and some are average, some offer a truly exceptional experience. In some cases these routes let you experience flying an airline that you would not otherwise be able to without heading to its country of origin.  

Some of the best routes around allow you to fly some of the best premium cabin products around on Emirates, Singapore, and Air Canada.

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