Singapore Airlines adds new ‘fifth freedom’ route from Los Angeles

Aug 11, 2021

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Singapore Airlines is expanding its footprint in the U.S., announcing a new “fifth freedom” route from Los Angeles to the Taiwanese capital of Taipei.

The flights will begin Aug. 25, with Singapore operating a schedule of three weekly flights on Airbus A350-900 aircraft. The 253-seat jets are configured in a three-cabin layout that includes 42 seats in business class and 24 in premium economy. The flight schedule will be as follows:

  • SQ 35 from LAX to TPE. Departs 12:40 a.m. and arrives 6:10 a.m. the next morning, all times local. Flight departs LAX each Monday, Thursday and Saturday.
  • SQ 36 from TPE to LAX. Departs 5:50 p.m. and arrives 3:20 p.m. the same day, all times local. Flight departs TPE each Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

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The flights will operate what’s known in the industry as a fifth-freedom route, or one that allows an airline to fly and sell tickets between two countries — neither of which is its home base – as long as the flight continues to or from the carrier’s home nation.

Singapore’s LAX-TPE service – technically a resumption of a route the airline last flew in 2008 – will give it a total of five fifth-freedom routes from the United States. Its others are:

  • Los Angeles (LAX)-Tokyo Narita (NRT).
  • San Francisco (SFO)-Hong Kong (HKG).
  • Houston Bush Intercontinental (IAH)-Manchester, England (MAN).
  • New York (JFK)-Frankfurt, Germany (FRA).

Fifth-freedom routes: Flying top international airlines without setting foot in their home countries

Of those, however, only the LAX-NRT route has resumed since being grounded earlier in the pandemic. The other three have yet to restart, though Singapore Airlines says it remains committed to doing so.

A number of international carriers offered fifth-freedom flights from the U.S. prior to the pandemic, but Singapore’s were among the most coveted by both aviation and points and miles enthusiasts.

Singapore Airlines is noted for its high-end service, especially in its premium first- and business-class cabins. Prior to the pandemic, Singapore operated aircraft featuring its posh first-class seats on its fifth-freedom routes from LAX, SFO and JFK. The JFK-FRA service also gave U.S. travelers a chance to fly on the carrier’s high-profile Airbus A380 superjumbos, which are outfitted with its highly regarded Singapore Suites first-class cabin.

World class: A review of Singapore Airlines Suites on the A380 from Frankfurt to New York

More: Ultimate guide to the new Singapore Suites

Those looking to use miles to fly in economy have a choice of Star Alliance partners with which to book, including United MileagePlus and Aeroplan. For those looking to fly upfront, Singapore doesn’t release premium-cabin award space to their partners, so you’ll have to book through Singapore’s KrisFlyer program.

Related: What are the five freedoms of aviation, and how do they affect you?

Fortunately, these miles are easy to earn since KrisFlyer is a partner of all five major transferable points currencies: Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, Capital One and Marriott Bonvoy. One-way saver awards cost the following amounts:

Route Economy Premium economy Business First
U.S.-Europe 22,500 miles 47,000 miles 72,000 miles 86,000 miles
 U.S.-Tokyo 35,000 miles 66,000 miles 92,000 miles 107,000 miles
U.S.-Hong Kong 33,000 miles 63,000 miles 89,000 miles 104,000 miles

Remember that booking through Krisflyer allows you to waitlist for awards if your desired flight or class of service isn’t available at the time of booking.

Related: Watch TPG UK review all four classes on Singapore Airlines’ A380 from Frankfurt to New York

Additional reporting by TPG’s Benji Stawski.

Featured photo by Fasttailwind/Shutterstock.

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