Exciting news coming from Singapore Airlines as the carrier will soon start a new fifth freedom route between Taipei (TPE) and Los Angeles, starting August 25, 2021.
The route will be operated with a Airbus A350-900 aircraft in a 3-class configuration and is available on three days per week (Monday, Thursday& Saturday ex Los Angeles).
These fifth freedom flights have been a Singapore Airlines staple for years with several having been discontinued some time ago, let alone Singapore Airlines has reduced capacity overall during the pandemic but now we’re seeing the TPE-LAX-LAX flight back operated with the A350.
This isn’t a new route. Singapore Airlines used to fly Taipei-Los Angeles in the past and unfortunately it was the route where in 2000 a Boeing 747 crashed into construction equipment while trying to take off during a typhoon in Taipei, killing 81 of the 179 passengers and crew (very light flight that day).
I’ve used these 5th freedom flights very frequently in the past, there was a time when I took SQ11/SQ12 twice a month and I remember back when it was operated by a Boeing 747-400 United Mileage Plus always had First Class award seats available on short notice. Then the aircraft was swapped to an Airbus A380 and the only way to book First (Suites) was through SQ Krisflyer.
I’ve looked up the routing and pricing for the Taipei flights on Singapore Airlines website:
The pricing is rather high, US$5,470 and the timing is exactly how it used to be back in the day. I would say these are pretty ideal times to go from Singapore or Tokyo to the West Coast of the U.S.:
- SQ36 Singapore – Taipei 11:45 – 16:40 – 1:10h stopover –
- SQ36 Taipei – Los Angeles 17:50 – 15:20
- SQ35 Los Angeles – Taipei 00:40 – 06:10 – 3:00h stopover –
- SQ35 Taipei – Singapore 09:10 – 13:30
These flights are available three days a week with flights going on Sunday, Wednesday & Friday ex Singapore/Taipei to LAX as well as Monday, Thursday & Saturday ex Los Angeles to TPE/SIN.
The choice is purely down to personal preference. Some might also consider if a certain flight is worth it when you need a hotel at your origin / destination. Transit passengers might be put off by the three hour transit time in Taipei on the way back to Singapore. I’d rather fly direct or via Tokyo to be honest.
For example a departure time of 00:40am from LAX when taking SQ35 means you really have a LONG day before finally getting on the plane. I remember these ungodly times from the first LAX-SIN nonstop flights.
Likewise a 6:10am arrival in Taipei when arriving on SQ11. That time isn’t too bad when you have a home in Taipei but booking a hotel means you either can arrange a very early check-in (I never had a problem getting a 9am checkin at the Grand Hyatt Taipei as a Globalist) or stick around in the city until standard check-in time.
Taiwan is still closed for foreign arrivals and even Taiwanese require a quarantine of two weeks. Hopefully this will end sometime in the future.
After a long hiatus Singapore Airlines has finally returned their fifth freedom route Taipei-Los Angeles-Taipei with a continuation from/to Singapore on the same aircraft which is now a Airbus A350-900.
Hopefully this sticks and borders reopen sometime soon to make use of this connection once again. Although it’s possible to transit in both Singapore and Taipei.