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While it might not be the easiest thing to get to the Maldives on miles since there are no direct flights from the US, it is definitely possible to fly there on a variety of airlines via other hubs if you get creative with codeshares and your miles – like I recently did by using United miles to fly a combination of EVA and Singapore Airlines from New York to Taipei, Singapore and on to Male.

I just wrapped up 7 nights in the Maldives and while they are beautiful, they aren’t for everyone. Even if you book award nights and use hotel points, you’ll still be hit with expensive meals and some resorts (like the Park Hyatt and Conrad) require ~$500 seaplane transfers. However, if you’re looking for an incredible experience in the middle of the Indian ocean and like to completely unwind or enjoy pristine water, the Maldives can be a perfect choice.

The ideal time to go is in the spring when rain is less likely (though it can happen anytime- sadly nearly half the days on my trip were rainy/cloudy), though it didn’t ruin the trip because I could still scuba dive and relax at the incredible Conrad spa (a full trip report is coming next week).

Getting There

Getting to the Maldives on miles can be a challenge - but it's worth it!

Getting to the Maldives on miles can be a challenge – but it’s worth it!

1. Emirates using Alaska Miles:  Emirates flies directly to the Maldives from its hub in Dubai, and you can get there from several North American gateways including New York, Boston, Toronto, Los Angeles and more. Alaska is among the most useful of Emirates’ airline partners since you can use their miles to fly any class on Emirates and they do not charge fuel surcharges on Emirates awards, meaning you could save thousands of dollars.

Emirates flights can be booked using Alaska miles.

Emirates flights can be booked using Alaska miles.

Between North America and India or the Middle East roundtrip, you would need the following amount of Alaska miles (oneway awards are half the price of roundtrip):

  • Economy: 85,000
  • Business: 145,000
  • First: 180,000

Note: Alaska is also a transfer partner of Starwood Preferred Guest.

For more information on Emirates check out my series on it including: The Basics of Earning and Redeeming, Using Miles To Upgrade, Award Chart Sweet Spots, Elite Status and Good News: Amex Points Transfer to Emirates Instantly.

2. Singapore Airlines: Singapore Airlines has 14 flights per week from Singapore to Male.  Singapore Airlines is one of the more comfortable airlines out there (even in coach) and flies out of five US cities including New York, Newark, Houston, San Francisco and LA. Before United’s January devaluation, here’s how many United miles you’ll need to fly Singapore from North America to the Maldives.

Singapore KrisFlyer is a 1:1 transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards and they release a lot more award space to their own frequent flyers than to Star Alliance partner programs. Note: Amex to KrisFlyer transfers usually take about 48 hours. Link: Award calculator. Note: I priced out a business class roundtrip award from NYC and it came to $989 in taxes and fees.

West Coast to Maldives Roundtrip (15% discount in miles when booked online)
Economy: 85,000 milesBusiness: 180,000 miles
First: 250,000 miles

East Coast to Maldives Roundtrip (15% discount in miles when booked online)
Economy: 105,000 miles
Business: 205,000 miles
First: 165,000 miles

Use United miles to fly Singapore Airlines.

Use United miles to fly Singapore Airlines.

Singapore Using United miles:

Pre-Devaluation United Miles roundtrip (one-way is half the price):

  • Economy Saver Award: 80,000 miles
  • Business Saver Award: 120,000 miles
  • First Class Saver Award: 160,000 miles – though Singapore does not really release first class award space to partners

Post-Devaluation:

  • Economy Saver Award: 85,000 miles
  • Business Saver Award: 160,000 miles
  • First Class Saver Award: 280,000 miles – though Singapore does not really release first class award space to partners

United is a 1:1 Ultimate Rewards transfer partner if you have the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold or Ink Plus cards, and points transfer into your miles account instantly.

Singapore using US Airways (based on from the US to South East and Central Asia): The other US-based Star Alliance partner to think about is US Airways. Though they require you to book roundtrip awards, they do have some flexible routing options so you could build in a stopover along the way. This might also be a good way to put your US Airways miles to use before the airline exits Star Alliance and merges with American. Here’s how many US Airways miles you’d need.

  • Economy: 80,000 miles
  • Business: 120,000 miles
  • First: 160,000 miles

US Airways is also a transfer partner of Starwood Preferred Guest.

3. Turkish using United miles: Yet another good partner option using United miles (again, pre-devaluation before redemption rates skyrocket) is to fly Turkish Airlines via Istanbul. The airline is upgrading parts of its fleet including business class, so you could have a comfortable ride with an exotic stopover at just about the halfway point between the US and the Maldives.

Turkish Airlines flights can be booked with United miles.

Turkish Airlines flights can be booked with United or US Airways miles.

Pre-Devaluation:

  • Economy Saver Award: 80,000 miles
  • Business Saver Award: 120,000 miles

Post-Devaluation:

  • Economy Saver Award: 85,000 miles
  • Business Saver Award: 160,000 miles

4. Qatar Airways using American Airlines miles: Qatar flies to Male from its hub in Doha, and since the airline joined the Oneworld Alliance in October, awards are bookable using American and British Airways miles, though beware high fuel surcharges in the hundreds of dollars.

Qatar Airlines

Qatar Airlines can be flown using American Airlines miles.

Here’s how many American miles you’d need roundtrip.

  • Economy: 90,000
  • Business: 135,000
  • First Class: 180,000

Note: Although you should be able to find Qatar award availability on either AA.com or britishairways.com, I recommend using the Qantas search engine to find Oneworld availability.

You can also use British Airways Avios, but each leg is calculated separately so you need to calcuate the entire trip using the Avios Calculator for a total cost in miles.

Note: British Airways does fly from London Gatwick to Male, but award inventory is extremely limited (in fact I didn’t see any for months) so I did not include it in this list.

5. Korean using Chase Ultimate Rewards: Korean Air launched their new route from Seoul/Incheon first to Colombo in Sri Lanka and then onto Male in Maldives in March, 2013, operated with an Airbus 330-300, every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, so flying across the Pacific to Korea then continuing on to the Maldives is a viable option for folks traveling from the US.

Korean is a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards if you have the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold or Ink Plus cards, and points usually transfer into your miles account instantly or within 24 hours. To fly from North America to the Maldives, here’s how many Korean Air SkyPass miles you’d need:

  • Economy: 95,000 miles
  • Business: 140-170,000 miles
  • First: 190-210,000 miles

The Korean Air award booking process is a bit complicated, so for more information on booking Korean Air awards after an Ultimate Rewards transfer check out this post.

You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to Korean Air.

You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to Korean Air.

Korean using Delta miles (based on roundtrip flights to the South Asian subcontinent): Korean Air is a member of SkyTeam, so you can also use your Delta SkyMiles to book awards on the carrier – though I would suggest doing so before both of Delta’s upcoming devaluations – both one in February and another on premium international awards in June so you’re not stuck redeeming at the new, higher rates.

  • Economy Saver: 80,000 before February 1, 2014; 85,000 after then.
  • Economy Standard: 130,000 before February 1, 2014; 135,000 after then.
  • Economy Peak: 160,000 before February 1, 2014; 170,000 after then.
  • Business Saver: 120,000 before February 1, 2014; 140,000 after then.
  • Business Standard: 230,000
  • Business Peak: 250,000

Delta is a transfer partner of both Amex and SPG.

Korean using Alaska miles: One of Korean Air’s non-alliance partners is Alaska (one of the reasons I like Alaska miles so much is how many great partners they have). Here’s how many miles you’d need to get to the Maldives flying Korean on an award booked with Mileage Plan miles.

  • Economy: 100,000
  • Business: 140,000

Note that the following blackout dates apply for this region: December 7-31, 2013, and Jan 1-5, Jan 29-Feb 3, May 3-6, May 16-Jul 1, Jul 18-Aug 24, September 5-10, October 3-5, October 9, October 11-12, December 10-31, 2014.

6. China Southern using Delta: China Southern is another Asia-based SkyTeam airline, and has weekly flights to Male from Guangzhou, and now that Guangzhou is the third city allowing visits of up to 72 hour without an advance visa application for passengers transiting on, you can extend your layover there easily. China Southern flies its A380 on the Los Angeles-Guangzhou route, so you’re getting its newest in-flight product, and award availability is generally good.

China Southern can also be booked with Delta SkyMiles.

China Southern can also be booked with Delta SkyMiles.

  • Economy Saver: 80,000 before February 1, 2014; 85,000 after then.
  • Economy Standard: 130,000 before February 1, 2014; 135,000 after then.
  • Economy Peak: 160,000 before February 1, 2014; 170,000 after then.
  • Business Saver: 120,000 before February 1, 2014; 140,000 after then.
  • Business Standard: 230,000
  • Business Peak: 250,000

7. Etihad using Etihad miles (based on roundtrip from New York JFK to Male): Etihad has routes from its hub city of Abu Dhabi to Male, many of which fly via Colombo in Sri Lanka. Etihad currently serves JFK and Chicago O’Hare in the US. Even if you are not traveling to Abu Dhabi, the airline serves over 50 in Asia, Africa and Australia (or exotic destinations like the Seychelles), so you should think about establishing an account with the Etihad loyalty program here.

Etihad is another airline option to the Maldives.

Etihad is another airline option to the Maldives.

Here’s the miles you’d need to book a roundtrip award from New York JFK to Male.

  • Economy: 159,049
  • Business: 225,465
  • First: 283,142

As you’ll note, these are high numbers, so I’d try to find another way, but still, it’s an option and a very nice airline

8. Aeroflot using Delta miles: Aeroflot is a Russia-based SkyTeam carrier, and has regular non-stop flights from their hub in Moscow on A330 airliners, that can be booked as a Delta award.

Aeroflot

Aeroflot accepts Delta miles.

  • Economy Saver: 40,000 before February 1, 2014; 42,500 after then.
  • Economy Standard: 65,000 before February 1, 2014; 65,000 after then.
  • Economy Peak: 80,000 before February 1, 2014; 85,000 after then.
  • Business Elite, First Class or Business Saver: 60,000 before February 1, 2014; 70,000 after then.
  • Business Elite, First Class or Business Standard: 115,000
  • Business Elite, First Class or Business Peak: 175,000

9. Cathay Pacific using American Airlines miles: One of my favorite Oneworld carriers (if not my favorite) is Cathay Pacific – especially because you can use your American Airlines or British Airways miles to fly it to its hub in Hong Kong and points beyond, including the Maldives.

Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific can be booked with American Airlines, Alaska or British Airways miles.

Here’s how many American miles you’d need.

  • Economy: 45,000
  • Business: 65,000
  • First Class: 90,000

American is a transfer partner of Starwood Preferred Guest.

Cathay Pacific using British Airways miles (based on roundtrip from New York JFK to Male): The other Oneworld alliance member whose miles I’d consider using is British Airways – especially because they’re so easy to rack up with credit card offers like the current 100,000-Avios sign-up bonus (when you spend $20,000 in a year) on the British Airways Visa, as well as the current 20% Amex transfer bonus to the airline now through the end of November. Here’s how many Avios you’d need roundtrip.

  • Economy: 90,000
  • Premium Economy: 135,000
  • Business/Club: 180,000
  • First: 270,000

But there’s another non-Oneworld option as well.

Cathay Pacific using Alaska miles (based on roundtrip between North America and Africa/India/Middle East): Cathay is another premier partner of Alaska’s Mileage Plan. Here’s how many miles you’d need.

  • Economy: 100,000
  • Premium Economy: 110,000
  • Business: 125,000
  • First: 140,000

10. Austrian/Tyrolean from Vienna using United miles:

Austrian

Austrian can be flown with United or US Airways miles.

Although they’re really part of Lufthansa, Austrian and its subsidiary Tyrolean operate independently and you can use your United or US Airways miles to book awards on them directly to fly ot the Maldives via Vienna. Here’s how many miles you would need.

  • Economy Saver Award: 80,000 miles
  • Business Saver Award: 120,000 miles

11. Condor Airlines via Frankfurt (based on using miles from JFK-FRA then paying for roundtrip from FRA-Male):

Condor

Condor

  • Economy: $1,039
  • Business: $1,949
  • First: $3,249.98

12. Hainan Airlines using Air Berlin miles: This is one of those off-beat partnerships it might be worth exploring since you’ll avoid fighting for award space on one of Air Berlin’s Oneworld partners in favor of this Beijing-based carrier instead. I can’t vouch for the product, but it is another option out there.

Hainan Airlines.

Hainan Airlines can be booked with Air Berlin miles.

You could use Air Berlin miles to fly from the US to Europe, and then you’d need 90,000 miles in economy or 180,000 miles in business class roundtrip from Berlin to Beijing and can take a cheap flight from there. You need just 30,000 miles for a business class upgrade on a paid ticket. It’s a bit of a chaotic itinerary, but if you’re dying to get to the Maldives and have the Air Berlin miles to burn, it’s something to consider.

13. Flying JFK to Dubai Using Emirates Skywards miles then buying tickets on Air Asia or FlyDubai from Dubai to Male starting at $272 roundtrip: Racking up Emirates miles became a lot easier thanks to the recent launch of its partnership with American Express Membership Rewards and the current 25% transfer bonus through November 22 (Friday). Here’s how many miles you’d need to fly from the North America East zone (including New York, Boston, DC and Toronto) to Dubai, and from there you could purchase a cheap ticket onwards to the Maldives.

Emirates flies from JFK-Dubai.

Emirates flies from JFK-Dubai.

  • Economy Saver Fare: 72,500
  • Economy Flex Fare: 125,000
  • Business Saver Fare: 145,000
  • Business Flex Fare: 200,000
  • First Saver Fare: 217,500
  • First Flex Fare: 272,500

Just note that Emirates does charge some hefty fuel surcharges and taxes – in the range of $700-$1,200, so beware paying extra on top of your miles and the cheap discount ticket.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • tridentnyc

    What about flying Etihad via Abu Dhabi using AA Aadvantage miles? I just booked a trip in March/April in both business and first class this way and can’t wait!

  • davep

    Cathay Pacific using AA miles seems about half the price of any others. 45,000 RT in economy? From the US? Is that right? Or is that from Hong Kong?

  • Chris

    How’d you forget Etihad with AA?!?!? That’s how I’m getting there!

  • Chris

    AA doesn’t allow you to route that way. They’d charge you US-Asia and Asia-Middle East as two separate awards.

  • PedroNY

    AA miles on Etihad…

  • http://www.laviajeramorena.com/ Chanel @ La Viajera Morena

    This list is really helpful. Really want to get to the Maldives soon. Thanks! :D

  • fruitypants

    Thank you so much for this. The blog hasnt been the same when you left. Welcome back

  • Becky

    Any tips on how to get from Chicago to the Seychelles? Is Etihad our only option?

  • SeaBee3

    There shouldn’t be any fuel surcharges when using AA miles to book on Qatar.

  • Nick Ewen

    My wife and I just used Delta miles to go to the Seychelles in May/June. We flew to Europe on Air France and then flew Kenya Airways from there to Nairobi and then onto the Seychelles. At the time, they flew twice a week from NBO-SEZ.

  • Shawn

    I have 180k with United, 250k with AA, 230k with BA. What’s my best option out of Houston? Prefer business.

  • Becky

    Thanks. Very helpful tip since we plan to use Delta miles as much as possible.

  • Becky

    We plan to go in June too. Was that good timing and did you spend any time in Nairobi?

  • Nick Ewen

    No, we just had 2.5 hours in the Nairobi Airport. Since we already stopped over for a few days in Europe, we couldn’t add another one in Africa. At the time, the Kenya Airways flight from CDG-NBO was during the day, and we didn’t want to just overnight there, since there aren’t any easy airport hotels. We wound up flying CDG-LHR-NBO-SEZ (since the LHR-NBO flight was overnight).

    We found that June was great. The resort (Hilton) was too crowded, and the weather was terrific. Definitely a fantastic trip!

  • Jonathan

    Favorite article of the month..You should have us vote for the favorite article of the month and do a follow up on that specific topic

  • jack

    I’m just wondering why this sudden fascination with the Maldives? Every bloggers wet dream lately.

  • Tom

    Very Nice Article! I think many readers would also be interested in a trip report. Thanks!

  • Mallikarjuna

    American Airlines needs 90K roundtrip. Is that correct?

  • Peter

    If u use United and do a stopover in Singapore, total round trip economy is just 65000 miles! I am going next month and that is how I booke my ticket. 5 days in Singapore, 5 days in Maldives then back to Lax

  • Bob

    Would suggest United, because is the best deal for business class at 120k miles for business class. And if do so, can add a free one way flight (by using the stopover rule) to other places later, such as anywhere within the US, Hawaii, Carribean, etc without any extra points. So with 120k, get IAH->Male->IAH->Grand Cayman for 120k points business class. Another option if use coach can be to reach either Kuala Lumpur or Hong Kong through 65k united points (rather than 80k which it costs to go directly to Male), and either find the cheapest ticket from there to Maldives or use Avios points/money award combinations through the BA partners of Cathay Pacific or Malaysian Airlines

  • Chris S

    AA miles on Etihad is a favorite of mine, booked as 2 separate economy awards during the off-peak season (which is when you’re less likely to encounter rain in Maldives anyway). Comes to 80k total, with the ability to stop over in Europe for as long as you’d like.

  • Brandon

    What are the fuel surcharges for all of these options?

  • Andrew

    Look them up.

  • mle

    Shouldn’t the award ticket be 80,000 for MLE?

  • frostedluckycharms

    Great layout. One major obstacle is how to redeem for award travel.

  • http://www.comediandan.com/ Dan Nainan

    How many miles total if I may ask?

  • Nick Ewen

    120k per person for r/t in business class. Routing was MIA-CDG (stopover)-LHR-NBO-SEZ (destination, open jaw) TNR-CDG-MIA. However, this will cost 140k per person after June 1st.

  • http://www.comediandan.com/ Dan Nainan

    Aha! Thank you most kindly for this information.

  • Zora

    I’ll be doing a day in the Maldives as a layover next year. The most obvious connection point on a trip from the Caucasus to Indonesia, ha ha. LAX-IST; BUS-IST-MLE (Turkish)-SIN (Singapore)-DPS; DPS-TPE-LAX. Could do worse for 65k ;)

    Any info on day trips? Seems like all the bathing beaches are in resorts.

  • todd

    Can you do an article on how to get good deals on Maldives hotels? Don’t have enough points so looking at how to get deals with Cash

  • http://www.mightytravels.com/ MightyTravels

    We recently took a deeper look at the options using Etihad (missing published fares) and Qatar (routing restrictions). If you can make it work for you – they are great options!

    http://www.mightytravels.com/13232755/the_best_option_to_use_aadvantage_miles_to_the_maldives_more_thoughts.php

  • Andy

    I can’t see any Qatar award seats on AA??

  • BlueMonkey

    65,000 is awesome! So, you did LAX-IST (open Jaw), but I am not sure about the rest… BUS-IST-MLE-SIN-DPS (stopover); DPS – TPE-LAX…. Can you explain and what point did you use? United? Star Alliance?

  • thepointsguy

    It was on the top of my list because it’s a world class scuba destination

  • Ben

    How did you determine the miles required using Turkish Airlines? Everything from NYC area or IAD to MLE via IST was 80k one way First Class Saver. Thank you!

  • Ben

    @tridentnyc:disqus How did you manage to find availability and then book? How many miles were required? I was thinking about flying to MLE on Etihad using AA miles on our honeymoon and then back somehow using United miles

  • tridentnyc

    Ben,

    Getting award space is tricky on Etihad but not impossible. Etihad
    just added an additional flight daily in each direction JFK-AUH and I
    just noticed award availability for March/April.

    I would up getting first class each way 90k AAdvantage miles each way
    and then another 25k each way for Business Class AUH-MLE. So basically,
    230k roundtrip JFK-MLE.

    Hope this helps.

  • noynoyingalways

    Try El Nido Palawan in the Philippines – #1 island in the world 2013 travel and leisure magazine… Beaches and scenery is better than Maldives :)

  • Derek

    Is anyone still active on this blog?

  • Derek

    Would like to know best way to get to Male using United Miles for Business or First class travel. It seems the quickest way to get there is going on Turkish airlines which is 2 cabin and I hear good things about. The other option being using Thai Airlines or SIngapore Airlines

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