Celebrating [Fifth] Freedoms to the Caribbean

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Celebrating [Fifth] Freedoms to the Caribbean

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“Why am I flying Air New Zealand between Los Angeles and London?”

“Why the heck is everyone telling me to use my miles on that Singapore Airlines flight between New York and Frankfurt?!”

The above quotes are representative of unique routes that airlines fly called “Fifth Freedom Routes”. What are Fifth Freedom Routes?

Before we get there (and take advantage of them), this type of routing is part of a larger body of laws and regulations known as the Freedoms of the Air: a set of international aviation laws governing which sovereign airlines can fly to and from which country; which can transport cargo and personnel, only cargo, perform maintenance or refuel in different countries. You can read more about Freedoms of the Air over at wikipedia, but the relevant one to us (for this conversation) is the Fifth freedom, which:

The fifth freedom allows an airline to carry revenue traffic between foreign countries as a part of services connecting the airline’s own country. It is the right to carry passengers from one’s own country to a second country, and from that country to a third country (and so on). An example of a fifth freedom traffic right is an Emirates flight in 2004 from Dubai to Brisbane, Australia and onward to Auckland, New Zealand, where tickets can be sold on any sector. Fifth freedom traffic rights are intended to enhance the economic viability of an airline’s long haul routes, but tend to be viewed by local airlines and governments as potentially unfair competition.

Source

So what does that look like?

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 2.44.41 PM

This entire route is operated by Singapore Airlines

This route is extremely popular among bloggers and miles and points enthusiasts because you can use points to book the JFK – Frankfurt route and fly in Singapore Airlines’ wonderful Suites Class–Without going all the way to Singapore. A lavish way to get to Europe, indeed.

Yes - Those are two beds

Yes – Those are two beds

So as the “consumer”, why would you want to fly a Fifth Freedom route?

  • Sometimes great award availability
  • More options for connecting to harder to get regions (think Bangkok and Singapore)
  • Cheaper cash tickets
  • Ability to try premium products at a discounted rate that would otherwise be out of reach (like flying JFK – Toronto on LAN in business class for about $115 each way)

There are many, many Fifth Freedom routes–see them all here. Plenty of these routes are covered elsewhere, like:

  • London – Los Angeles on Air New Zealand
  • JFK – Frankfurt on Singapore Airlines
  • JFK – Vancouver on Cathay Pacific
  • JFK – Milan on Emirates
  • Sydney – Auckland on LAN

This list goes on and on, but there are some really practical, untouched ones that we’ll look at today.

Here are all the Fifth Freedom Routes British Airways operates in the Caribbean:

  • Nassau, Bahamas (NAS) – Grand Cayman (GCM) – NAS
  • Antigua (ANU) – Tobago (TAB) – ANU
  • ANU – Grenada (GND) – ANU
  • ANU – St. Kitts (SKB) – ANU
  • ANU – Turks & Caicos (PLS) – ANU
  • St. Lucia (UVF) – Port of Spain (POS) – UVF
  • UVF – GND – UVF

A lot of these routes can be paid for using cash (but who does that?!); however, British Airways is a Oneworld partner and there are several points currencies which transfer to British Airways Avios. The British Airways credit card also currently falls outside of the new Chase churning rules and comes with a 50,000 point bonus after spending $2,000 in three months and then another 25,000 points after spending $15,000 total in one card member year (you may be able to get matched to their recent 100,000 point offer–secure message them, it’s always worth asking).

The Fifth Hopper: Turks & Caicos – Antigua & Barbuda – St. Kitts

 

With all the choices, the most common one is Antigua. So you could use another currency to fly directly (or connecting) to Turks & Caicos and then hop around the Caribbean very cheaply using Avios. Here’s what it would look like

pls-anu-skb

PLS – ANU

 

This route operates Sunday and Thursday.

This route operates Sunday and Thursday.

ANU-SKB

anu-skb only

The route currently only operates on Wednesdays

(Please note: These schedules are usually not loaded very far in advance; check back frequently for dates farther out.)

So for 11,500 Avios and $55.00 you can see two additional islands (not three–the first you would arrive at anyways). This is just an example and there can be many more variations.

But what about cash prices? Let’s take a look…

That's too steep for me!

That’s too steep for me!

You’d get almost 3 cents to the miles with these redemption and you’d save over $350.00.

Getting to the Caribbean

Before you can do this hopper, you need to get there first! There are lots of options from North America. The greatest number of options are coming from Orlando, Miami (the gateway to Latin American and the Caribbean), Houston and Atlanta. There are scattered and seasonal flights from other east coast hubs like D.C., New York and Chicago.

Here are some of the best options for using miles to the Caribbean.

Airline Economy Business Transfers From Notes
American 25 – 30,000 50,000 SPG No stopovers; lower price is off-peak
Alaska 35,000 60,000 SPG 1 Stopover, but must be same ariline (so American or Delta only)
Air France 30,000 75,000 AMEX, Chase UR, SPG, Citi TYP 1 Stopover; must be called in
United 35,000 60,000 Chase UR 1 Stopover, 1 Open-jaw
Delta Variable Variable AMEX, SPG Cheapest 15,000 Roundtrip, can be much more
British Airways Distance Based Distance Based AMEX, Chase UR, SPG Best value from AA hubs like Miami & Charolette
JetBlue Revenue Based Revenue Based AMEX Based off price of ticket, but good values on off-peak times

Fixed-Cost Currencies

For those that are based off of region and therefore “fixed”, your best bets are American’s off-peak or Air France on Delta metal. The only thing that American has that Delta does not is the amount of non-stops from Miami and the East Coast. With Delta, you may have to connect via Atlanta.

Revenue and Distance Based Currencies 

The crux of this post is about British Airways, so it could also provide good options for getting to your first Caribbean destination. JetBlue offers the most non-stops to the Caribbean from the New York area so if you are going off-peak, there are some extremely cheap redemption’s to be had.

Earning the British Airways Miles

I briefly mentioned above, but the British Airways card is currently at 50,000 Avios for spending $2,000 in the first three months, and then an additional 25,000 Avios after spending $13,000 more (for a total of $15,000). You can also, after approval, Secure Message Chase and ask them to match you to the previously higher offer of 50,000 for spending $2,000; an additional 25,000 Avios when spending a total of $10,000; and finally another additional 25,000 Avios after spending $20,000 total in a card member year.

You can also earn Ultimate Rewards via cards like the Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, Sapphire and Ink  business cards which can be transferred 1:1 to British Airways.

 

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to try out one of these routes.

 

-The Miner


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