How to get to the Maldives using miles

The Maldives is one of those awe inspiring destinations credit card companies use to 'make us sign up' for credit cards. It's a chain of tiny islands in the Indian Ocean south of India.

Usually each resort is occupying a complete island. Tourists come in via speed boat or short flights from the capital Male. Which in itself is a tiny island.

Flights in business class from North America cost between $5,000-$8,000 and First Class between $10,000 and $15,000.

Here are the best options how to get to the Maldives on miles from North America.

AA Advantage miles (OneWorld)

American Airlines allows you to use miles on partner Etihad. Etihad flies from New York, Chicago and Toronto from North America.

Via Abu Dhabi there is a one-stop service to Male (MLE).

Round trip in Business 135,000
Round trip in First Class 180,000

When flying from the West Coast you can add a segment on American Airlines to get to Chicago or JFK.

Other options include Malaysian Airlines via from LAX to Taipei and Kuala Lumpur.

Also British Airways serves MLE via London-Gatwick but the excessive fuel surcharges make this option unattractive.

American Airlines award rules charge every segment separately for each stop you make – so cost varies on where you stop (London will be more expensive than the Middle East).

Also not all legs will likely have first class – making the splurge for First Class a little less appealing.

United Mileage Plus miles (Star Alliance)

United does not charge individually for forced stopovers. So you can easily mix & match carriers.

From the West Coast Singapore Airlines allows for short connections but trans-pacific flights are usually not released to partners. What you can do is book Business/First with United/ ANA or Asiana and then use Singapore Airlines intra-Asia in Business (which is being released to partners). Singapore Airlines flies to all major hubs in Asia and from Singapore it's a 4.5hour flight to MLE.

Round trip in Business 120,000
Round trip in First Class 160,000

Another option is getting yourself to Istanbul (United, Turkish Airlines, Lufthansa etc) and then using Turkish Airlines form Istanbul to MLE. However there are very few seats being released to partners. Prepare yourself for 5 hours in Economy that way.

As an alternative always look for options to Colombo (CMB) which is just a 90 minute fight away and tickets costs just $200 for the Roundtrip between Colombo and Male.

Delta SkyMiles (SkyTeam)

Skyteam partner China Southern flies to the Maldives. China Southern also has a brand new A380 in service on the LAX route from Guangzhou. Almost every flight has seats in business class available. Fuel surcharges are low on China Southern.

You may also look at Aeroflot which has service from LAX, JFK, Washington and Miami to Moscow and onwards connections to MLE. Fuel surcharges are pretty reasoanable as well on Aeroflot. The business class product is modern and fresh especially when compared to other SkyTeam carriers.

Round trip in Business 120,000

Conclusion:

To my surprise Delta easily has the best business class availability to MLE. Expect to pay $400 in fuel surcharges though.

United and American miles can get you to MLE as well but may require more miles or a more flexible schedule.

Which options did I miss? Feel free to comment!

Picture courtesy of http://freetopwallpaper.com/category/maldives/