What Are First, Second, Third, Fifth, and Sixth Freedom Flights?

I’ve written in the past about fifth freedom flights, which essentially allow an airline to operate a flight between two countries other than where that airline is based. Examples include Singapore Airlines’ flight between New York and Frankfurt, Cathay Pacific’s flight between New York and Vancouver, LAN Chile’s flight between Madrid and Frankfurt, etc.

However, fifth freedom flying is only one of the many “freedoms” of aviation. While many people might be familiar with the concepts they represent, fewer people could explain what first, second, third, and sixth freedom flights are.

So if you’ve ever wondered, here’s a fantastic video which explains more about international aviation law than you’d ever hope to learn in just 14 minutes:

This isn’t just a basic explanation of the various freedoms, but goes into a lot more than that. For example, it explains how much some countries charge in overflight fees (basically for flying over their airspace), and also how the US makes money on flights that operate between Australia and Japan.

If you have some spare time this weekend, I’d highly recommend watching this very cool video that any aviation geek will undoubtedly learn something from.

Comments

  1. @Simon This is from what I understand an eighth freedom flight since last I heard you need to fly the leg to (or from) Australia when flying between LAX and JFK. If they sell flights between LAX and JFK without the need to start or end your journey in Australia then it is a fifth freedom flight.

  2. Dang, no hattip for sharing this video with you on twitter. Maybe you already knew about it? Glad you could write up a post about it though.

  3. @Kevin S. and @Simon, – Wouldn’t that be the eighth? Because it is “two cities in a foreign country on top of continuing onto one’s own country”? QF has pickup and drop off rights in both US cities; in fact, Ben flew the route himself, if I am not mistaken. Please tell me if I’m making a mistake here

  4. Sorry for asking this, but is youtube the only online video playing system in the States? This system is blocked here….Any options for us the poor?

  5. Really interesting video, thanks for the link!

    It’s not possible to book just JFK-LAX on Qantas, although I believe you can fly a different Qantas flight on the Australia-LAX leg and connect to/from the LAX-JFK “tag”.

    It looks like there’s a change of aircraft at LAX these days, it’s a 747 from JFK to LAX, then an A380 from LAX to SYD. Back when I flew it, it was the same 747 for both legs, although after the JFK-LAX leg you had to get off while the plane was refueled, which was an absolute pain in the butt because the gate area in T4 wasn’t nearly big enough.

    I remember the idea of allowing American (but not Qantas) to sell the LAX-JFK leg separately by AA buying the seats from QF was floated at least a couple of times, but the FAA wasn’t having it. It wouldn’t have been that big of a money-maker for QF anyway, since any seat sold on LAX-JFK wouldn’t be available for sale to a SYD-JFK passenger, so it’d probably have been restricted to last-minute sales. Sort of like the way, back when dinosaurs (or tri-jets, at least) roamed the earth, you used to be able to get super-cheap seats from LAS to LAX on Hawaiian (DC-10, IIRC) so they could get a little more revenue out of an otherwise-empty seat that they’d already sold between LAX and HNL.

  6. While there are limitations, the QF LAX-JFK segment is less restrictive than what many of you are intimating.

    The flight needs to be flown as part of an international itinerary. The international part of the journey need not be on QF or even on the same day.

    For example, you could fly JL NRT-LAX / layover / QF LAX-JFK and be fine. AA agents are hit or miss, but I’ve never had a problem booking itineraries like this via QF.

    The trick to really maximize this is you need to be on a published fare that allows a stopover. In theory, your stopover could be a few months!

  7. Foreigners can book Qantas from NY to LA. But Americans cannot. Likewise Americans can book and fly Qantas from Brisbane to Sydney.

    There is asymmetry in some of these freedoms. For instance Europeans can book and fly United from London to Frankfurt, but British or Air France cannot fly from NY to LA. So it seems that the US is imposing some rather unfair practices here.

    Then again, who would ever fly trans-con on United if you could choose Singapore or Emirates?

  8. You should check out this guys other videos on aviation, low cost carrier fare explanations. All pretty interesting. His videos on TWL (that Wikipedia list) are also fascinating!

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