Flying To Europe Using Miles – Without Getting Stuck On A U.S. or European Airline

Prompted by my writing about wide open availability for two first class Suites awards on the Singapore Airlines New York JFK – Frankfurt flight, a reader asks about other ‘fifth freedom routes’ between the U.S. and Europe.

They wanted to fly between the U.S. and Europe on an Asian or Middle Eastern carrier and wanted to know what their options looked like using miles for the best seats possible. Fifth freedom flights are routes operated by a carrier between two countries other than the airline’s home country.

Some examples of flights you might not expect between US and Europe:

  • Singapore Airlines, New York JFK – Frankfurt
  • Singapore Airlines, Houston – Manchester
  • Emirates, Newark – Athens
  • Emirates, New York JFK – Milan
  • Air Tahiti Nui, Los Angeles – Paris

While business class space is more available, the reader was really asking about the best possible award products. Here’s what New York JFK – Milan looks like in first class for June 2022:

Not amazing inventory, but there are dates where this can be booked. Emirates Skywards is a transfer partner of most transfer currencies.

Newark – Athens for two passengers in first class is tougher to find:

Booking one way to Athens and back from Milan is something to consider for a great summer Europe trip. The Milan flight is even scheduled next summer to be operated by an Airbus A380, which has on board showers in first class.

Other examples of these sorts of flights from the West Coast to destinations in Asia Pacific include:

  • Air France, Los Angeles – Papeete
  • Singapore Airlines, Los Angeles – Tokyo
  • Singapore Airlines, San Francisco – Hong Kong

Although flights between Los Angeles and Papeete for Air France, and Papeete and Los Angeles for Air Tahiti Nui aren’t true fifth freedom routes because French Polynesia is a semi-autonomous French overseas territory.

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, 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. Do you have any travel tips for using my American Airlines miles to either upgrade to business class or to purchase business class from PDX to Rome next September

  2. A lot of American get tempted by low prices and good award availability on Air Canada. But most get only fooled once.

    Horrible Y and a constantly deflating J seat without even a hot breakfast to Europe.

    Just dont.

  3. Too bad Air NZ dropped their LAX-LHR flight before the pandemic. That was always a great way to get across the Atlantic.

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