The Newest Travel Hack For Cheap Business Class Seats In Australia
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The Newest Travel Hack For Cheap Business Class Seats In Australia

Fifth-freedom flights could be the easiest way to nab a cheap business-class seat that most Australians have never heard of.

Put simply, a fifth-freedom flight is a fight between countries A and B operated by an airline not from either country. For example, Qantas flying between Auckland and New York. Because travellers gravitate towards national carriers, fifth-freedom flights can be keenly priced from a cash and points perspective.

This article covers some of the well-known and not-so-well-known fifth-freedom flights to and from Australia…

RELATED: Travel Hacker Reveals How Much Business Class Flyers Actually Earn

Emirates First Class To Christchurch

The big daddy of Australia’s fifth-freedom flights is the daily return Emirates A380-800 service between Sydney and Auckland. Why such a big deal? Besides the fact that it’s an A380, which for some reason continues to get some people all hot under the collar, Emirates has a knockout business and first-class cabin on this aircraft type.

At 64,500 Qantas points (plus AUD186 in fees and taxes), this is one of the more affordable ways to wriggle your way into Emirates first class. Unfortunately, because people like me promote this redemption sweet spot, first-class redemptions are increasingly hard to come by. 

But business class redemptions (which are available) on the sector cost 43,800 points (plus AUD186 in fees and taxes). Frankly, when the alternative is Qantas B737-800 business class or all-economy Airbus narrowbodies on Air New Zealand or Jetstar, I know which I’d choose. 

You can see why people get overexcited… Image: Andy’s Travel Blog

China Airlines’ Fifth Freedom A350 Flights Between Brisbane And Auckland

Taiwan’s China Airlines operates an A350-900 between Brisbane and Auckland every day except Monday and Wednesday. The flight has a civilised lunchtime pushback from Brisbane and an early evening departure out of Auckland. Qantas, Air New Zealand, and Jetstar also fly the route. 

The China Airlines A350 has a striking 32-seat business class cabin in a 1-2-1 layout, with wide seats, great pitch, unrestricted footwells, lie-flat seats, and a walk-up bar. 

China Airlines is a SkyTeam member, Australia’s least popular airline alliance. However, China Airlines has a codeshare arrangement with Qantas, allowing QFF members to pay as little as 43,500 points (plus AUD164 in fees and taxes) for a one-way trans-Tasman flight. This is roughly 700 points more than a redemption on the evening Qantas B737 service out of Brisbane or 3,000 points less than the morning Qantas A330 flight.

But why would you want to fly on either of those when there is an A350-900 available?

China Airlines is definitely one to watch regarding Business Class product… Image: Points Hack

Dodgy Fifth-Freedom Flights To Avoid

Emirates also has a daily fifth freedom flight between Melbourne and Singapore, which DMARGE cannot recommend because it pushes back at Tullamarine at 2.30 a.m., and the 2-3-2 business class seat layout is a premium cabin horror show despite the best efforts of the lovely Emirate flight attendants.

The flight down to Melbourne is a more interesting option. Despite the lousy J cabin layout, it is a daytime flight, and these can be hard to come by between Asia and Australia. You can redeem QFF for these Emirates flights, and this may be a case where an economy class redemption (30,200 points plus AUD329 in fees and taxes) easily trumps the business class redemption price of 75,200 points plus a staggering AUD1,226 in fees and taxes. No thanks.

There’s no denying that Melbourne Airport looks good at night… but a 2:30am pushback is just inhumane. Image: Facebook

British Airways has an equivalent daily fifth-freedom service running between Sydney and Singapore, right down to the subpar B787-9 business-class cabin. That may change later this year when BA will probably swap out the Dreamliner for the B777-300ER with its up-to-the-minute business suites.

However, in the meantime, the superior Qantas and Singapore Airlines premium cabin products are available and better.

Big Savings On Fifth Freedom Flight From Perth

Out of Perth, Batik Air flies a B737-800 four times per week to and from Auckland. It’s not the greatest business-class product on the market, but the alternative, Air New Zealand’s B787-9’s product isn’t so flash either.

The Batik Air business class proposition gets traction because it is roughly half the price (AUD2,000 return) of the Air New Zealand fare (circa AUD4,000 return). The tradeoff is you get a domestic business class recliner instead of a lie-flat bed, but for the saving, that is a tradeoff many people may be happy to make.

Batik’s business class isn’t the best on earth, but it’s not to be sniffed at either… Image: Airline Ratings

New Fifth Freedom Flight To Palau

Nauru Airlines is another carrier that might not be top of your airline short-list. However, Nauru is starting a fifth-freedom B737 flight between Brisbane and Palau (Roror), a top-tier albeit under-visited destination for divers and people who simply want to tune out for a week. Flights start towards the end of May and run overnight, which isn’t ideal. On the plus side, Nauru Airlines does have a business class cabin, albeit in the domestic recliner style rather than lie-flat.

There are other fifth-freedom flights to and from Australia. They are typically, but not always, cheaper than the local airlines. It’s a pattern that’s repeated around the world. If you are looking for a premium cabin experience at an affordable price, fifth-freedom flights could be the answer.