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If you’ve been speculatively hoarding Delta SkyMiles in hopes of redeeming them for a trip of a lifetime, most of your friends have likely written you off as looney. Turns out, you’ll be the one with the last laugh. We’ve discovered a quirk in Delta’s online booking portal that’s showing one-way business class trips to Male, Maldives (MLE) for just 100,000 SkyMiles + around $30-$50 in fees. If you’re tight on miles and willing to fly nearly 10,000 miles in coach, economy tickets are displaying at 50,000 miles + fees.
Pretty much every major US airport east of (and including) Salt Lake City (SLC) is pricing out at 100,000 SkyMiles. That includes the likes of St. Louis (STL), Minneapolis–St. Paul (MSP), Dallas–Ft. Worth (DFW), Houston (IAH), Detroit (DTW), Nashville (BNA), Miami (MIA), Norfolk (ORF), Raleigh–Durham (RDU) and New York (LGA/JFK).
Most West Coast cities are pricing out at 120,000 SkyMiles, including Seattle (SEA), San Francisco (SFO), San Jose (SJC), Sacramento (SMF), Santa Ana (SNA) and Portland (PDX).
If you really want to go from one extreme to the other, you’ll only need to part ways with 120,000 SkyMiles to fly to the Maldives from Alaska’s two biggest airports: Anchorage (ANC) and Fairbanks (FAI).
No matter how you slice it, that’s an insane deal. We value SkyMiles at 1.2 cents a piece, which means 100,000 of them should typically net you around $1,200 worth of airfare value. One-way business class tickets from the United States to the Maldives via Delta and its SkyTeam partners range from around $3,800 to $10,000. Parting ways with just 100,000 SkyMiles as opposed to many thousands of dollars is a fantastic use of miles.
We’re thus far seeing these tickets available on just a single date: trips departing from the United States on Oct. 30, 2019. This is notable, as it puts you in Paris (CDG) the following morning, Oct. 31, 2019. Halloween of next year marks the first day that Air France, a SkyTeam partner, restarts its seasonal nonstop service between Paris (CDG) and Male, Maldives (MLE). That service has operated between November and March for the past few years, and for 2019, it appears that it will be served by a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner like the one Reviews Editor Nick Ellis reviewed between Paris and New York (JFK).
That said, it’s possible that as Delta’s booking calendar opens up day by day (you can only book flights up to 331 days out), the twice-weekly flight will continue to price out below other options. While you can spend 120,000 SkyMiles — a 20% increase over this deal — for a business class ticket on other days, the routings often involve four to five connections.
The key to this deal is to assemble a one-way trip that places you on Air France’s first nonstop from Paris to the Maldives for its fall 2019 season. In fact, if you happen to live in Europe and are able to originate at Paris (CDG), you can score a business class seat on the 10-hour Dreamliner flight for just 65,000 SkyMiles + 244 euro in fees.
For more perspective on just how outstanding that Paris to Male deal is, Air France’s own Flying Blue booking engine is selling that same business class seat on Oct. 31, 2019 for 91,500 miles + $277 in fees.
Another quirk of this deal is that Delta is only selling this route via SkyMiles. If you try to book a seat on this route with cash, it throws up an error page.
The deal couldn’t come at a better time for points junkies. Several Maldivian hotels in the Marriott chain are still bookable as a Category 7, and with Points Advance, you don’t even need those miles in your account to make a cancellable reservation. That’s just 60,000 points per night, plus you can get a fifth night free to further lower your per-night average. At some point in early 2019, Marriott will finally implement top-tier Category 8 pricing and introduce peak pricing — in other words, get a reservation or two in now and sort out the details later.
While The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort doesn’t show availability in fall 2019 and the JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa isn’t yet taking reservations for its January 2019 opening, availability is wide open at W Maldives and Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort. (There’s also award space at Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa, but it’s one property we’d recommend avoiding.)
If you’re sitting on a stockpile of Delta SkyMiles (or a load of instantly transferrable American Express Membership Rewards points), you may want to pull the trigger soon. Not only will you get to fly in the forward cabin of a Dreamliner, but you’ll arrive at the start of peak season (e.g. sunnier, less rainy weather) in the Maldives.
If you’re looking to boost your SkyMiles balance, consider applying for one of the cards below.
- The Platinum Card® from American Express ($550 annual fee; 60,000 transferrable Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 within the first three months of holding the card)
- The Business Platinum® Card from American Express ($450 annual fee; 75,000 transferrable Membership Rewards points after you spend $10,000 within the first three months of holding the card)
- American Express® Gold Card ($250 annual fee; 25,000 transferrable Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 within the first three months of holding the card)
- Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express ($95 annual fee, waived for first year; 30,000 bonus SkyMiles after you spend $1,000 within the first three months of holding the card)
- Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card ($450 annual fee; 30,000 bonus SkyMiles and 10,000 MQMs after you spend $3,000 within the first three months of holding the card)
As with any Delta ticket, you have until midnight ET the day after you purchase to call, cancel and receive a refund of your miles and taxes paid. For Platinum and Diamond Medallion members, you’ll enjoy the luxury of being able to cancel this award ticket free of charge up until 72 hours prior to departure.
Given that this flight is some 11 months away, it’s also likely that a schedule change or two will occur. Not only does a significant (typically 60+ minutes) schedule change enable you to call Delta and request a different routing within reason free of charge, but a change of 90+ minutes will generally allow you to call and request a full refund regardless of your Medallion status.
Airline: Delta Air Lines
Routes: Most major US airports to Male, Maldives (MLE) via Paris (CDG)
Cost: One-way economy award flights from 50,000+ SkyMiles for Main Cabin and 100,000+ SkyMiles for Business/Delta One, with around $30 to $50 in fees
Dates: Flights originating from the United States on Oct. 30, 2019; potentially more as booking calendar opens
Booking Link: Directly with Delta Air Lines
Pay Taxes/Fees With: Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, Citi Premier Card, Citi Prestige Card (3x on airfare plus excellent trip-delay insurance) or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x on travel)
With some great bonus categories, the American Express Gold Card has a lot going for it. The card offers 4x points at US restaurants, at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x), and 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com. It is currently offering a welcome bonus of 35,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.
- Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
- Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. restaurants. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X).
- Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
- Earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with The Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, and Ruth's Chris Steak House. This is an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
- $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
- Choose to carry a balance with interest on eligible charges of $100 or more.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- Annual Fee is $250.
- Terms apply.
- See Rates & Fees