Emirates Is Launching A Fun “Fifth Freedom” Flight That Should Be Great To Fly

Emirates is adding a fourth flight between Dubai and Singapore, and the aircraft will continue on from Singapore to Phnom Penh, Cambodia and back to Singapore beginning May 1.

It’s a route currently operating by Singapore Airlines, Air Bishkek, and Jetstar. The Emirates flight will be operated by a Boeing 777-300ER, and will be the only widebody aircraft on the route and the only flight offering three-cabin service. The aircraft will offer 8 first class, 42 business class, and 310 economy seats.

Emirates First Class

The schedule will be as follows:

    Dubai – Singapore, 2:30 a.m. – 2:05 p.m., Emirates 348
    Singapore – Phnom Penh, 3:35 p.m. – 4:35 p.m., Emirates 348

    Phnom Penh – Singapore, 8:50 p.m. – 11:50 p.m., Emirates 349
    Singapore – Dubai, 1:40 a.m.+1 – 4:55 a.m.+1, Emirates 349

705 mile flight, Singapore – Phnom Penh

I’ve highlighted Emirates ‘fifth freedom’ routes, which fly between countries without touching their home in Dubai. For instance, first class on Emirates between Hong Kong and Bangkok can be purchased for around $900 roundtrip and is operated by their Airbus A380.

Fifth freedom flights are neat for a number of reasons,

  • They are often inexpensive. They’re filling seats on a single flight operating at most once a day, and without a strong local customer base. But they can work when they’re using time the aircraft would otherwise be on the ground (which is generally why the flight are short).

  • Award availability is frequently good. For the same reason prices are low, there are often excess seats available.

  • They’re usually a better product. As in this case where Emirates is bringing widebody service with international first class to a pair of cities that usually see Boeing 737s and Airbus A320s.

  • They’re fun to collect. Who wouldn’t want to fly between Nassau, Bahamas and Grand Cayman on… British Airways? Or between Australia and New Zealand on China Eastern, LATAM, Emirates or China Airlines?

Emirates operates more fifth freedom flights than any airline I know of besides Ethiopian and perhaps Kenya Airways. Their routes include Sydney – Christchurch; Singapore – Melbourne; Bangkok – Hong Kong; Male – Colombo; Larnaca – Malta; Athens – Newark; Milan – New York JFK; Accra – Abidjan; Harare – Lusaka; Conakry- Dakar; Rio – Buenos Aires; Barcelona- Mexico City; Miami – Bogota (starts June 2024).

I’ve taken the Emirates Male – Colombo flight in first class, and on the same route I’ve flown China Eastern. It’s fun and interesting! (My business class China Eastern flight was under $100.) Probably my favorite was flying Lufthansa first class from Ho Chi Minh City to Bangkok, a service that’s no longer operated.

Some of the more useful fifth freedom flights I’ve come across have been EVA Airways from Bangkok to Vienna, Amsterdam, and London Heathrow (great product, good award availability); Air Tahiti Nui from Los Angeles to Paris (technically not fifth freedom because Tahiti is French);

KLM has interesting flights from Singapore to Bali, Kuala Lumpur to Jakarta, and Buenos Aires – Santiago. The first two have a connection to the airline’s home country colonial past in Indonesia. Many European airlines have route networks with such legacies (such as Brussels Airlines).

I often find that the Singapore Airlines fifth freedom New York JFK – Frankfurt and Houston – Manchester flights have some of the best award space across the Atlantic.

Neither American Airlines nor Delta currently operate any fifth freedom routes. United Airlines does – but only as part of its ‘island hopper’ service in the Pacific.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Meh. Not too many U.S. citizens fly SIN – PNH.
    Nevertheless, I’m sure they’ll put a few passengers in the seats.

  2. Umm, minor correction Air Bishkek does not exist any more. It’s Cambodia Airways (which has Air Bishkek’s previous IATA code) that flies between SIN and PNH. Which makes a lot more sense.

  3. It is interesting that America has no “fifth freedom” flights. In fact, it seems that the airlines that are mostly using 5th freedom are airlines in the Middle and Eastern countries. So I guess what I don’t understand is why is this? The only thing that I can think of is that no one would want to take a US based airline when there are other options. Also, it would nice if someone reviewed more 5th freedom flights because it is not done much. If ever. It would be interesting and different.

  4. I’ve flown from SIN to PNH and PNH to SIN but on Singapore Airlines with a connecting flight between LAX and SIN. It would be great to have an Emirates heavy connecting the two.

  5. Didn’t many of these fifth freedom flights/routes start before long haul aircraft had the range to make it nonstop? 21 years ago on our honeymoon we flew LAS -SIN on Singapore Airlines with a refueling stop in Hong Kong. My next trip to SIN was nonstop from EWR. (And now almost every trip to LAS involves a little sin…..)

  6. KLM has interesting flights from Singapore to Bali, Kuala Lumpur to Jakarta, and Buenos Aires – Santiago.

    Is KLM allowed to carry local traffic on the EZE-SCL flight? When AA flew this in the early 90’s only passengers originating in MIA could be on this leg. Flight operated MIA-EZE-SCL-EZE-MIA.

  7. The EK fares on that route between SIN and PNH are crazy high in first and business.

    On the latter, SQ is cheaper.

  8. The timing of the SIN-PNH and PNH-SIN flights seem quite good. Which airline program has the cheapest mileage redemption option for the EK flights on the route? The regular paid business and first class fares seem high.

  9. @GUWonder – off the top of my head I’d think Qantas which should run 10k economy / 20k business if i recall correctly, with JAL slightly more expensive, though I haven’t gone to check all of the partner prices

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