This article is about how to fly short haul European business class flights which use long-haul aircraft (ie a 747, 777, 787, A380, A350, A330, A340 etc).
Why would you want to do this? Well, for fun!
European business class flights are rarely exciting. Yes, British Airways offers you an empty middle seat, free champagne and some average food. At the end of the day, though, you are still sat in pretty much the same seat as everyone else.
However, wouldn’t it be great if you could fly a long-haul plane around Europe? It may only be a couple of hours to Madrid or Helsinki, but if you could get yourself a flat-bed seat – and for the same number of Avios as a seat on a standard plane – that’s pretty cool.
The reason you can (very occasionally) do this is mainly due to ‘fifth freedom’ flying rights. This allows an aircraft to fly between two countries as a ‘tag’ to another flight. The flight would not be viable if the aircraft could not drop passengers in both cities.
There are also some airlines who use long-haul planes around Europe for cargo reasons. Whilst they are not on the list below, because they are not ‘fifth freedom’ flights, you have – for Avios redemption:
BA will also occasionally use long-haul aircraft on Heathrow to Moscow – there is a Boeing 787 being used in October. There is also, for Star Alliance redemptions:
Heathrow to Istanbul on Turkish (some flights each day are on a Boeing 777, see my Turkish Boeing 777 review here)
Fifth Freedom flights within Europe
This article from US blog FlyPointyEnd offers a pretty comprehensive list of all of the ‘fifth freedom’ flights currently operating. Qudos to them for putting this together and keeping it updated because it is an ever-changing field.
Here are the intra-European ones worth a look. These are taken from the FlyPointyEnd list – it is possible that it is not 100% accurate but I am confident in most of it.
I have added the airline alliance the airline is with, so you know whose miles you would need to redeem. I have only included flights on long-haul aircraft.
Emirates (no alliance) – Larnaca to Malta
Ethiopian (Star Alliance) – Stockholm to Oslo
Hainan Airlines (no alliance) – Dublin to Edinburgh
LATAM (oneworld) – Madrid to Frankfurt
MIAT Mongolian Airlines (no alliance) – Berlin to Moscow
Korean Air (SkyTeam) – Vienna to Zurich
Kuwait Airlines (no alliance) – Frankfurt to Geneva
Singapore Airlines (Star Alliance) – Moscow to Stockholm
If you want to use your Avios points, you only have the LATAM flight between Madrid and Frankfurt. We reviewed this here. A one way trip in business class is 15,000 Avios plus £17 or £36 of tax depending on which direction you go.
Personally, I like the sound of flying MIAT Mongolian Airlines, an airline I can honestly say I had never even heard of before I wrote this article.
There are other European airlines which run occasional routes using long-haul aircraft, similar to the Iberia service to London, but they are not included above as there is no comprehensive list available. I think the Madrid, Finnair, Moscow and Istanbul services are the only ones from Heathrow.
Fifth Freedom flights which start in Europe
It is also worth highlighting Fifth Freedom flights which start in Europe but go elsewhere. These flights are often easy to get as frequent flyer redemptions because they are rarely full for the second leg.
Air China (Star Alliance) – Madrid to Sao Paulo
Air India (Star Alliance) – London Heathrow to New York
Air New Zealand (Star Alliance) – London Heathrow to Los Angeles
Emirates (no alliance) – Athens to New York
Emirates (no alliance) – Milan to New York
Ethiopian (Star Alliance) – Dublin to Los Angeles
Eva Airways (Star Alliance) – Amsterdam to Bangkok
Eva Airways (Star Alliance) – Vienna to Bangkok
Eva Airways (Star Alliance) – London Heathrow to Bangkok
Jet Airways (no alliance but a Virgin partner) – Amsterdam to Toronto
Qantas (oneworld) – London Heathrow to Singapore
Singapore Airlines (Star Alliance) – Manchester to Houston
Singapore Airlines (Star Alliance) – Frankfurt to New York
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (September 2022)
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!
In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.
You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:
There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.
EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.
Run your own business?
We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,000 Avios.
You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.
There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.