THE BLOG

How to Find 5th Freedom Flights

03/27/2015 04:04 pm ET | Updated May 27, 2015

2015-03-18-1426705689-2232470-findfifthfreedomflightsmh.jpg

Now that you know how cool fifth freedom flights really are, this is how you find one.

This post originally appeared on Map Happy.

Unsurprisingly, like most things, the best way to find a fifth freedom flight is through Google. It's not really one of those things you can search for all on its own, but it is something you can check for before you book the ticket.

If you have never heard of a fifth freedom flight before, this is essentially what they are in a nutshell:

Fifth freedom flights are normal flights that operate between two different countries, with the difference being that the airline is totally based in a different country than the origin or destination. An example of this would be a British Airways flight from New York to Toronto, or even a New Zealand flight from Los Angeles to London. Think of it as an airline from Country A that flies from Country B to Country C. The main advantage of these flights? They're either usually on better airlines or on better aircrafts than a normal flight.

The Travel Codex has a brief primer on finding fifth freedom flights, but I'll go a little bit more in-depth in this post. In order to check if there's one along the route you're flying, all you have to do is search "flights from AAA to BBB" directly from the Google homepage. (Insert AAA and BBB with the airport codes of the relevant cities.)

2015-03-18-1426705727-2549979-findfifthfreedomflightsearchmh.jpgSearch with the foreign city first.

Once that string is entered, Google will return a series of search results bringing up every flight between those two points and its weekly schedule. The nice thing about this flight list is that it will strip out any codeshares, so you can quickly see what the operating airline is. The only major downside is that Google doesn't account for seasonal schedules, so there might be a few flights missing.

2015-03-18-1426705758-6976481-findfifthfreedomflightresultsmh.jpgAnd there's your fifth freedom flight.

There is a small caveat to this method, though: If you're flying a route that includes a U.S. city (such as LAX to Heathrow) it's better to lead with the foreign city in the search results (Heathrow to LAX) like in the above example. That's because once you lead with an American city, Google returns a search result with significantly less information regarding the weekly schedule and includes all possible codeshares, making it hard to distinguish which airline metal you're actually on.

While the dates and times won't be as accurate, you'll be able to confirm, for instance, if Air New Zealand has a LAX to Heathrow flight available. Almost all airlines fly the opposite route.

If that's too much, The Travel Codex has a pretty extensive list of freedom flights on its page. Weekend Blitz also has a list consisting of the longest freedom flights in the world for those who are sort of explicitly into this kind of thing. Personally, my wallet doesn't care too much: It just votes for the best (or cheapest) airline. And, sometimes, that ends up being a fifth freedom flight.

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