Top 15: Longest Fifth Freedom Flights in the World
I’ve been researching flights lately and have been coming across some unlikely options. It got me thinking about how and why these routes were possible. And, not only how they’re possible, but, also, what are some good examples of these rare (but necessary) flights? For a full description on Fifth Freedom flights, check this post: What are “Fifth Freedom” Airline Flights and Routes? This installment joins the others I’ve compiled including:
- Top 7: Longest domestic US flights
- Top 10: Longest Domestic Flights in the World
- Top 10: World’s longest non-stop flights
- Top 12: Longest Non-Stop Delta Flights in the World
Why Do I Care About Fifth Freedom Routes?
Simply put, fifth freedom routes are cool. They’re unique and unusual. It’s the whole idea of how small and interconnected the world is that I find the coolest. Real quick, the fifth freedom right of the sky is what enables United and Delta Airlines to fly many routes from Tokyo-NRT to a whole host of Asian cities. It allows (allowed?) Emirates Airlines, a Dubai-based carrier, to fly revenue passengers between New York-JFK and Milan, Italy-MXP, two foreign countries–this flight is on the chopping block now, it might be cancelled by Italian officials. There are other examples (many of which will come in a later post), but here are a few: Delta flies direct from Amsterdam-AMS to Mumbai-BOM and Air China flies from Madrid-MAD to São Paulo-GRU.
Top 15 Longest Fifth Freedom Flights in the World
Update 4/21: Reader sierra3tango pointed out I missed Air New Zealand’s LHR-LAX flight, it has been added as #9. Some interesting things to watch out for:
- Boeing 777-300ER is a very popular choice for these long routes, making an appearance on the list 10 times.
- It’s interesting that some routes (#7 and #10) were tied. This means that 3 governments had to approve the route twice and were OK with even more competition to their national carriers.
- Singapore Airlines makes the list 5 times, proving just how difficult it is to reach Singapore from the Western Hemisphere.
- The longest 5th Freedom flight currently operated in the world is New York-JFK to Osaka-KIX on China Airlines. The flight is scheduled to take 14 hrs 20 mins on a Boeing 747-400 flying westward over the Pacific and covers 6,946 miles (11,178 km). From Osaka, CI Flight #19 (CAL19) continues onward to Taipei, Taiwan-TPE. The total journey from JFK to Taipei-TPE takes 18 hr 40 mins.
- Singapore Airlines‘ San Franciso-SFO to Hong Kong-HKG flight comes in at a close second with 6,927 miles (11,148 km) and is technically scheduled to take appx the exact same time as #1: 14 hr 20 mins. SQ #1 (SIA1) is flown on a Boeing 777-300ER and from HKG continues onward to Singapore-SIN for a total journey time of 19 hr 30 mins.
- This seems to be one of the more obscure or unusual routes: São Paulo-GRU to Los Angeles-LAX flown by Korean Air. Operated on a Boeing 777-300ER, KE Flight #62 (KAL62) makes the 6,156 mile (9,907 km) journey in 12 hr 30 mins. From Los Angeles-LAX, the flight continues onward to Korean Air’s hub in Seoul-ICN. Including the 2 hr 00 min stop at LAX, the entire journey from São Paulo-GRU to Seoul-ICN takes a crazy 27 hr 40 mins!
- Thai Airways’ one-and-only U.S. destination is Los Angeles-LAX, with a flight going to Seoul-ICN. TG Flight #693 (THA693) covers a distance of 5,994 miles (9,646 km) in 12 hr 35 mins on Thai’s Boeing 777-200. Naturally, the flight continues onward to Bangkok-BKK with a total journey time of 19 hr 50 mins.
- Breaking up the streak of US cities is EVA Air‘s route from Bangkok-BKK to London-LHR, coming in at 5,958 miles (9,588 km). The 5th longest Fifth Freedom flight in the world takes 12 hr 25 mins on a Boeing 777-300ER. BR Flight #67 (EVA67) originates at the EVA Air hub in Taipei-TPE for a total flight time of 17 hr 15 mins from TPE to LHR, with the 1 hr 15 min stop in BKK.
- Singapore Airlines Flight# SQ 62 (SIA62) carries passengers from Moscow-DME to Houston-IAH in 12 hr 15 mins. The 5,936 mile (9,553 km) flight is operated on a Boeing 777-300ER. The flight originates in Singapore-SIN and total flying time from Singapore-SIN to Houston-IAH, including the 1 hr 30 min stop in Moscow, takes right at a full day of your life: 24 hr 25 mins.
- The Fifth Freedom flight between Bangkok-BKK and Amsterdam-AMS is a tie between China Airlines and EVA Air, both headquartered in Taiwan. At 12 hr 25 mins, technically the China Airlines route is “longer” but only because they’re slower, so not really a win there. EVA Air flies the 5,727 mile (9,217 km) route in 11 hr 55 mins on a Boeing 777-300ER (Flight# BR 75 or EVA75). China Airlines Flight # CI 65 (CAL65) uses a A340-300, which adds about half an hour. Both flights originate in Taipei-TPE. (7½) Update 4/21: We’re calling this one 7½ because reader laxjaydub pointed out that it’s not technically a 5th Freedom flight because French Polynesia is a territory of France.Next up is a flight from Paris-CDG to Los Angeles-LAX, covering a distance of 5,670 miles (9,125 km) in 12 hr 00 mins. The flight, TN Flight #7 or THT7, is operated by Air Tahiti Nui and flown on an Airbus A340-300. After a brief 1 hr 49 min stop at LAX, the Airbus continues onward to Papeete-PPT for a total travel time of 22 hr 25 mins. I’msure it’s well worth the trip! Cool fact: I’ve added the orange route on the map to show what a non-stop flight from Paris-CDG to Papeete-PPT would look like. Direct distance = 9,765 miles, distance with a stop at LAX = 9,765–it doesn’t get more perfectly on the way than that!
- Up for a 3rd time, Singapore Airlines‘ flight from San Francisco-SFO to Seoul-ICN has a scheduled flying time of 12 hr 25 mins and a distance of 5,658 miles (9,106 km). A Boeing 777-300ER is used for flight SQ #15 (SIA15) and takes a total of 19 hr 40 mins from SFO to Singapore-SIN.
- Air New Zealand makes an appearance with their 11 hr 30 mins flight from London-LHR to Los Angeles-LAX on a, you guessed it, Boeing 777-300ER. The 5,456 mile (8,781 km) flight continues onward from LAX to Auckland-AKL for the (slightly longer) 13 hr 00 min segment. In total, NZ #1 (ANZ1) from LHR to AKL will have you seated for 26 hr 30 mins, including the 2 hr 00 min stop at LAX.
- Tied for 10th place, we have Malaysian Airlines and Singapore Airlines from Los Angeles-LAX to Tokyo-NRT. Interestingly, both flights have identical scheduled flight times of 11 hr 30 mins and cover a distanced of 5,451 miles (8,773 km). Singapore’s flight SQ #11 (SIA11) is flown on an Airbus A380 whereas Malaysian’s flight MH #93 (MAS93) uses a Boeing 777-200. MH #93 continues onward to Kuala Lumpur-KUL for a total travel time of 20 hr 45 mins. SQ #11 makes it from LAX to Singapore-SIN in a total of 20 hr 15 mins.Cool fact: This is another route with a stop that is perfectly on the main flight path. Total distance LAX-KUL direct = 8,808 miles vs 8,808 miles with a stop at NRT.
- Making it’s 5th (and final) appearance in this top list is Singapore Airline’s 5,432 miles (8,742 km) flight from Barcelona-BCN to São Paulo-GRU. SQ #68 (SIA68) uses a Boeing 777-300ER on the 11 hr 10 min flight. This is a painfully long flight time as well: Singapore-SIN to São Paulo-GRU with a 1 hr 20 min stop in Barcelona takes a whopping 26 hours!
- EVA Air flies a route from Bangkok-BKK to Vienna-VIE on an Airbus A330-200. The trip takes 11 hr 10 min, covering a distance of 5,256 miles (8,459 km). To fly the entire Taipei-TPE–>Bangkok-BKK–>Vienna-VIE flight takes 16 hr 00 mins– not too bad. Interestingly, this is far from the quickest option if going from Taipei to Vienna: China Airlines has a 12 hr 30 min non-stop flight; Air China and Korean Air can also get you there in under 16 hrs.
- This is another that seems more exotic to me: Air China’s 5,192 miles (8,356 km) flight from Madrid-MAD to São Paulo-GRU. The 11 hr 10 min route (CA #907 or CCA907) is aboard an Airbus A330. Originating in Beijing-PEK, the total flight time to São Paulo-GRU via a 2 hr 10 min stop in Madrid-MAD is 25 hr 40 mins. Interesting fact: This is a highly competitive route. There are already 4 non-stop flights, making the Air China route the 5th to join the party.
- Update 4/21: This one might also be downgraded to a half-step, 13½, as reader 2travel2know2 points out that the Cook Islands are essentially a part of New Zealand. It sounds like this one could be argued either way so I’ll leave it as is until I hear a more convincing argument.Despite once being a large US World War II base in the Pacific, the only carrier with direct flights from the Cook Islands to the US is New Zealand-based Air New Zealand. The route from Los Angeles-LAX to Rarotonga-RAR takes 10 hr 00 min, covering a distance of 4,670 miles (7,516 km) on a Boeing 767-300. This route isn’t just an operational stop though, Air New Zealand has 2x non-stop flights daily from LAX to Auckland-AKL that take 13 hr 00 mins total, whereas the LAX to Rarotonga-RAR to Auckland-AKL flight takes 15 hr 45 mins.
- Finally, at #15, we have our first Emirates Fifth Freedom flight from Sydney-SYD to Bangkok-BKK on an Boeing 777-300ER. The flight duration is 9 hr 25 mins over 4,662 miles (7,503 km). Emirates Flight EK #419 (UAE419) is actually a series of Fifth Freedom Flights: Christchurch-CHC –> Sydney-SYD, Sydney-SYD –> Bangkok-BKK and then Bangkok-BKK –> Dubai-DXB. If you ever flew this full, lengthy route, you’d be looking at a total travel time of 21 hr 50 mins.