Searching flights for enjoyment is an odd interest of mine. Google Flights is my primary tool, and I happily browse routes, airline options, and deals when time permits. I know, odd hobby.
Through these searches, I’ve “discovered” a good number of interesting airline routes, including Condor’s seasonal service between Frankfurt and Whitehorse, Yukon(!). It’s rare that a route really surprises me, but there are definitely a few that have. Here are five that I stumbled upon in just the past couple weeks.
Air China: Madrid to Sao Paulo
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by something this wacky. Air China already flies other fifth freedom routes, including Montreal to Havana and Houston to Panama City. The latter has been on my list of fifth freedom routes to try for a while, although it doesn’t make the top five. I am highly interested in using Miles & Smiles to book it, though, since you pay just 15,000 for business class between the U.S. and Panama.
The crazy thing here is that this route is two long-haul legs. The other fifth freedom routes had reasonably short (<4 hours) final segments. This Air China flight covers 10,000 miles (PEK-MAD-GRU) over a block time of nearly 24 hours. Amazingly, it’s still one of the fastest option between these two countries.
Hainan: Beijing to Tijuana
This one took me aback completely. The Chinese capital to Tijuana, Mexico? Seriously? The flight actually continues on to Mexico City, but you obviously can’t purchase that segment by itself. I’m blown away that this is viable. But considering the fact that Chinese tourism abroad is growing at an unstoppable pace, I guess it makes sense that they’d add Mexico to the map.
EVA: Bangkok to Amsterdam
Another fifth freedom route that comes out of left field. The strangest part about this is that Bangkok is the hub of Star Alliance partner Thai Airways. Why isn’t Thai operating this route? Seems that if it is profitable, Thai would would already be serving it? EVA’s only nonstop competition is the Dutch flag carrier, KLM, a SkyTeam member.
Shanghai Airlines: Shanghai to Budapest
I didn’t even know Shanghai Airlines had any sort of long-haul fleet. The only time I’ve looked at the carrier’s flights has been as a connection from a U.S. long-haul to other places in China and East Asia. They are still highly integrated with China Eastern, their parent company, but Shanghai Airlines does have a handful of 787-9 aircraft that the use for long-haul flights. They even offer a first class product!
TAAG: Luanda to Rio de Janeiro
Never heard of TAAG, the flag carrier of Angola? I’ve been aware of them for a while. But I wasn’t aware that they flew outside of southern Africa. Would be interesting to give their 777 a try on this route. Getting into Angola as an American requires a whole lot of legwork, though.
Other Interesting Airline Routes?
I’m sure there are more odd and interesting airline routes out there. These are just my latest discoveries. What odd airline routes have you either flown or have an interest in flying?