Since getting married in 2012, I’ve used points & miles to take an awesome honeymoon or anniversary trip each year. Our honeymoon was in Moorea & Bora Bora followed by our one year anniversary trip to Bali and Thailand (I really need to work on that trip report by the way…). These were both trips that we could not have taken if I had to pay cash for them even if we flew economy and stayed in budget hotels as each of those trips would have amounted to several thousand dollars! With the expectations growing for this year’s anniversary trip (its getting harder to top those two trips!), I decided to take my wife to the Maldives for our 2nd anniversary! This post will go over how many miles you need for flights to the Maldives and how we got the miles necessary for this trip while my next post will cover booking the hotels.
For those that don’t know, the Maldives is an island nation made up of 26 atolls in the Indian Ocean that is situated about 250 miles southwest of India. By both land mass and population, the Maldives is the smallest country in Asia. Coming from the East Coast of the US, this is not an easy nor quick place to get it but that is part of the allure of it – the remoteness and feeling you are isolated from the rest of the world.
Coming from the United States, the best miles to use for a trip to the Maldives are American Airlines miles or Alaska Mileage Plan miles. Using American miles, you can fly Etihad, Qatar and/or Cathay Pacific though flying Cathay Pacific will cost more in miles due to technically having to book two awards as a result of routing restrictions from AA. Here is the cost in miles if you flew Etihad or Qatar:
- 45,000 American Airlines miles for economy class (one way)
- 67,500 American Airlines miles for business class (one way)
- 90,000 American Airlines miles for first class (one way)
Flying Cathay would result in two awards since you cannot route to the Maldives via Asia (this is a routing rule enforced by AA). The total cost of two awards would be as follows and you can stopover for as long as you want in Hong Kong. You can also use British Airways Avios to book the Hong Kong to Maldives leg.
- 35,000 American Airlines miles for economy class to Hong Kong then another 22.5k miles to the Maldives (one way)
- 55,500 American Airlines miles for business class to Hong Kong then another 30k miles to the Maldives (one way)
- 67,500 American Airlines miles for first class to Hong Kong then another 45k miles to the Maldives (one way)
Using Alaska miles, you can fly Emirates or Cathay Pacific.
42,500 Alaska Airlines miles for economy class on Emirates (one way)
50,000 Alaska Airlines miles for economy class on Cathay Pacific (one way)
62,500 Alaska Airlines miles for business class on Cathay Pacific (one way)
72,500 Alaska Airlines miles for business class on Emirates (one way)
70,000 Alaska Airlines miles for first class on Cathay Pacific (one way)
90,000 Alaska Airlines miles for first class on Emirates (one way)
You can also use United miles for this trip as well as British Airways Avios but I am not going to cover those options as those options are too expensive for premium cabin travel and American & Alaskan miles offer the best, most convenient routings to the Maldives in my opinion.
Here is what I booked for our trip in October to the Maldives:
Flights: Etihad Business Class JFK-Abu Dhabi-Male (Maldives). For the return, Etihad Business Male-Abu Dhabi then Etihad First Class Abu Dhabi-JFK. We wanted to book first class on the outbound to the Maldives but there was no first class availability. The flights from Abu Dhabi to Male only features business and economy class so even on a first class booking, we are sitting in business class on those flights.
Retail Cost: $15,000-$17,000 per person for all flights.
My Cost: 157,500 American Airline miles + $62 in taxes+ $70 in unavoidable American Airlines phone booking fees per person.
I used American Airlines miles for two reasons: 1) They are a lot easier to obtain via credit card signup bonuses than Alaskan miles and 2) As such, we didn’t have enough Alaska Airlines miles so by default we had to use American miles :). I acquired the majority of the miles last year when the Citi American Airlines Executive card offered a 100,000 mile signup bonus that could be churned over and over. If you need AA miles, there are currently 50,000 mile signup offers on the Citi American Airlines Platinum Select for both the personal and business credit cards.
This will go down as one of my best redemptions of American miles followed by using American miles to fly Air Tahiti Nui to Tahiti for my honeymoon. Some people prefer to redeem their miles for domestic and/or economy flights which is great if that’s your goal. And to be honest, when I first started collecting miles years ago that was my goal to get trips to Las Vegas and Los Angeles for free. Now, I use miles for flights that I 100% could never EVER pay for, such as a business class or first class ticket to the Maldives. Even an economy flight on this route would cost over $1,500 which I wouldn’t pay for. But to use only 157,500 miles instead of paying $17,000 for this same ticket for a bed in the sky for a special trip that will we remember forever still amazes me – this is the beauty of points and miles.