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Update 2/2/15: Reader Luke alerted me to a whole slew of Caribbean flights I was missing from this list, so now they are added!
Thought this was really cool.
British Airways has 15 city pairs with Fifth Freedom flights:
- Abu Dhabi-Muscat
- Johannesburg-Victoria Falls
- Antigua – Saint Kitts
- Antigua – Tobago
- Antigua – San Juan
- Nassau – Grand Cayman
- Nassau – Providenciales
- Saint Lucia – Grenada
The good news is that most of them are bookable using Avios, and could provide a springboard to expand award bookings, or to take advantage of open jaws, or as a trip unto itself.
Bookable with Avios
It looks like BA operates a daily flight from AUH-MCT and there is availability on every single flight for every fare class.
Ditto for BAH-DOH, and you can even use Avios to book on all of Qatar’s flights as well.
Great space on CMB-MLE, either on British Airways or partner SriLankan Airlines. Again, just 4,500 Avios.
A great way to get to Male. Could possibly be a good workaround if you’re having trouble finding award space to Male on Cathay Pacific and don’t have very flexible dates.
Next up, a whole host of flights taking off from Johannesburg. I really like this bit, because you could use Aeroplan or Flying Blue or United’s MilagePlus to get yourself to JNB, then use Avios to get to other parts of Africa on the cheap.
I’m really interested in the JNB-MRU flight to use as a further springboard to visit the French island of Reunion, which is a neighboring island also off the coast of Madagascar. For some reason, I am obsessed with visiting Reunion. IT WILL HAPPEN.
There is actually decent award availability on the ORY-RUN flight with Delta SkyMiles or Air France’s Flying Blue, so this JNB-MRU is simply another workaround in case you want to visit two places instead of one, or if you don’t want to mess with SkyTeam to get down to Africa for whatever reason.
JNB-VFA wasn’t quite as wide open, but was hitting 6 days a week for availability, so still really decent.
Again with 4,500 Avios + $44.
Now we head to the Caribbean! This would be so perfect for a winter getaway, and availability is amazing for a few of these routes. Antigua is the launch point for many of these fifth freedoms:
I couldn’t find any award availability from Antigua to San Juan, PR… but it IS showing up as a valid route.
Contrast that with Nassau (NAS) to Grand Cayman (GCM), where there is availability for every single flight. This is the ideal situation for Avios redemptions… as flights are nearly ~$500. But nope, again with the 4,500 Avios and ~$28.
Ditto for NAS-Providenciales (PLS).
They only have one flight per week it looks like, on Sundays, for both routes. But they’re both pricing out at ~$500 retail or 4,500 Avios, your choice. 😉
Lastly, there is Saint Lucia (UVF) to Grenada (GND) which flies on Wednesdays and Sundays – and availability is wide open for every flight and every fare class.
These routes are a great, great way to maximize Avios and see more islands in the Caribbean. I’m tempted myself just looking at them on a cold day in the Northeast. But alas, I’ve always had dilemmas about the Caribbean islands.
And a sad trombone
Lastly, the city pair I was most interested in.
The one that could’ve possibly pulled me back into the Travel Together ticket (in conjunction with an award from originated in the US).
The one Fifth Freedom flight, if readily available as a mileage award, that would’ve been a game changer. But alas, it’s crap for availability – in business class, that is.
SIN-SYD (and vice versa) is hopeless.
For business class, I couldn’t find one single date in all of 2015 in either direction. But that would’ve really opened up a lot of RTW trip options…
However, in economy class, I was easily able to find availability on the SIN-SYD flight on both British Airways and Qantas for non-stops and Malaysia Airlines for connecting flights. It wasn’t wide open, but it was there. I had to massage the calendar a bit but it did eventually work.
The same is true for SYD-SIN. However, the flights are 20,000 Avios plus ~$171 in taxes, and I was able to find plenty of flights for around $300 each way, so I’d probably just pay for this particular route. In business class though, if there was availability, man… that would be so cool.
How to maximize this
For one, this opens up more Oneworld options. As with all British Airways bookings, here’s what comes to mind for getting some use out of this:
- Positioning flights for award bookings with other alliances. Fly into Doha to take a Qatar flight
- Side trips, or to exploit open jaw awards
- Save money when routes are more expensive in the summer
- Open up alternate routes when you have fixed dates
- Comine alliances. Fly into JNB with South African, continue onward with British Airways, for example
- Combine trips as two one-ways with two (or more) different mileage currencies
Anyway, thought this was really cool. Fifth freedom flights in general. The ones here are concentrated on the Middle East and Southern Africa, the latter of which can be a bit harder to get to on points and miles.
I’d love to visit Male one day, as well as South Africa and the island of Reunion, and very well might fly into JNB and onward from there.
I’d also love to visit Muscat – I’ve heard it’s gorgeous, and might very well fly back to Doha to experience Qatar Airways, which might pull me out of comfort zone again.
I really like that most of these are just 4,500 Avios and are not affected by the increases to mileage awards coming in April. I also just really like to find new ways to use Avios for short-haul flights.
It got me thinking and dreaming about new places in the world, and that is never a bad thing. Never ever.
Has anyone taken any of these fifth freedom flights? Are there any other cool uses I might’ve missed?
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