Singapore Airlines’ Fifth Freedom Routes – An Ultimate Guide

Singapore Airlines is highly regarded for having fantastic service in all of its classes. While many travelers would love the opportunity to experience the airline, they may not have travel plans that take them to or through southeast Asia. Fortunately, Singapore Airlines has a decently-sized list of diverse fifth-freedom routes that allow Europeans and North Americans the chance to fly the carrier.

Singapore Airlines A350
A number of Singapore Airlines’ fifth-freedom routes use the Airbus A350. Photo: Singapore Airlines

The short-haul routes

Certainly on the ‘short-and-sweet’ side, you won’t be getting too far with these routes. Out of the six Singapore Airlines fifth-freedom routes there are just two short ones:

  • Melbourne-Wellington: SQ247/248 takes three to three and a half hours long. It is operated by an Airbus A350-900. Air New Zealand and Qantas also fly this route.
  • Moscow-Stockholm: SQ361/362 also uses an Airbus A350-900. This short trip only takes around two hours and connects Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport (DME) with Stockholm Arlanda (ARN). It doesn’t appear that any other airline connects the two airports, although Aeroflot does fly to Arlanda from its hub at Moscow Sheremetyevo (SVO).
Singapore Airlines A350
Singapore Airlines flies the A350 on many of its fifth freedom routes. Photo: Getty Images

The long-haul routes

The carrier racks up some impressive distance traveling on its four fifth-freedom routes. Flying both transpacific and transatlantic, these are its long-haul services:

Hong Kong-San Francisco: With the very special flight number of SQ1 and 2, this transpacific service is 14-15 hours one way and just over 11 hours going the other way. This service is flown by either an A350-900 or a 777-300ER. Cathay Pacific and United Airlines are also serving this route.

Tokyo-Los Angeles: This service has the flight numbers SQ11 and 12 and takes nine hours going one way and 11.5 going the other. It is usually flown with a 777-300ER. This highly competitive route goes up against American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Japan Airlines, and ANA.

Manchester-Houston: SQ51/52 uses an Airbus A350 and seems to be the only flight connecting the two cities. The flight takes about seven and a half hours one way and 10 hours going in the other direction. As Houston is a United hub, and Singapore Airlines is also a Star Alliance member, it would indicate a smoother transfer process for passengers connecting on to other US destinations via United’s network.

Frankfurt-New York: SQ25/26 is one of the few fifth freedom routes out there that still uses the Airbus A380 superjumbo. Interestingly, this service competes with its other Star Alliance members – United and Lufthansa Airlines – although United flies out if its hub at Newark Liberty. One of Lufthansa’s services between Frankfurt and New York also uses an A380.  Going east the flight takes six to six and a half hours. Flying west, it’s more like eight and a half hours.

Singapore Airlines A380
The A380 flies between Frankfurt and New York JFK. Photo: Getty Images


While Singapore doesn’t have a lengthy list of fifth-freedom offerings, the few that it does have are quite interesting and offer passengers a lengthy amount of time to experience their highly regarded inflight service. What’s even better is the opportunity to fly in some great aircraft – including the A350-900 and the A380.

We recently wrote about the possibility of an additional fifth freedom flight between New York and Tokyo. At the time of writing, there is still no confirmation if that is going ahead.

Have you flown on any of the above routes? We would love to hear about your experience! Share the details of your journey by leaving a comment.