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Airfare deals are typically only available on limited dates. We recommend you use Google Flights to find dates to fly, then book through an online travel agency such as Orbitz or Expedia, which allows you to cancel flights without penalty by 11pm Eastern Time within one day of booking. However, if you’re using The Platinum Card® from American Express, you’ll need to book directly with the airline or through the Amex Travel portal to get 5x MR points. Remember: Fares may disappear quickly, so book right away and take advantage of Orbitz or Expedia’s courtesy cancellation if you’re unable to get the time away from work or family.

If you scored one of those amazing Marriott sweet-spot redemptions at the St. Regis Maldives, you’ve probably been scouting the internet looking for a cheap way to get there. Well, here’s your lucky ticket — which was originally spotted by The Flight Deal. Even better, this great fare allows you to stop over in the wildly popular city of Hong Kong on your way to paradise.

Here are some tips on making the most of your stopover in Hong Kong. You’ll want to keep this Maldives points and miles strategy in mind for once you arrive at the exotic, pricy island destination of your dreams, including everything you need to know about seaplane transfers.

Do note that Hong Kong Airlines is in some financial trouble as of late, so you’ll definitely want to purchase your ticket and accommodation with a credit card that offers trip insurance.

Airline: Hong Kong Airlines
Routes: LAX/SFO to MLE via HKG
Cost: $598+ round-trip
Dates: select dates between October and November
Pay With: The Platinum Card® from American Express (5x on airfare booked directly with the airline), Citi Prestige Card (5x on airfare plus excellent trip delay insurance), Citi Premier CardChase Sapphire ReserveAmerican Express® Gold Card (3x on airfare) or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x on travel)

How to Book

Booking this particular flight is a little bit more tricky than the usual recommendation to search on Google Flights. Instead, you’ll need to use the ITA Matrix Airfare Search functionality itself — the tool on which Google Flights is built — to first find the flights you want, then separately book them via Priceline or Expedia. The Flight Deal gives a good rundown on how to do this. We were also able to replicate these bookings when searching for a multi-city trip through Hong Kong Airlines’ website.

Your first step will be to click on the “Advanced Controls” link below the Departing From and Destination fields.

Once the search tool expands, type in the following information:

Departing from: LAX

Outbound routing code field #1: hx hx

Outbound routing code field #2: minconnect 2880 (this will instruct the software to search flights with a minimum of 48 hours’ stopover in Hong Kong)

Destination: MLE 

Return routing code field #1: hx hx

Return routing code field #2: maxconnect 240

Then select the option to “see calendar of lowest fares” and select whatever travel duration works for you, as well as a start date. I chose November 19 and a trip duration of 6-13 days (the tool will not allow you to search for a range wider than seven days).

Once you hit “search,” your results will show up in a two-month calendar format, with the cheapest days highlighted in red.

The next screen will show available flight(s) and airline. Note that the ITA Matrix currently prices out these flights at $662; as of the time of this post, the price drops to $598 via Priceline.

The final page will show you each of the segments in your itinerary which you will use to book your flight via Priceline or Expedia.

Once you have your flight segments on the desired dates, open up a separate tab to access Priceline. Select the option for “multi-destination” travel, and enter the airport codes and dates from the ITA Matrix search.

On the next screen, you’ll see the cheapest flight option (still pricing at $662 at this point ):

The price point for a single traveler over Nov. 20 to Dec. 2 currently prices out at $598 for the full itinerary as of the time of this post, while two travelers are pricing out at $638 per person.

Here are a few examples of dates available at this price point:

Los Angeles (LAX) to Malé (MLE) for $598 round-trip via Hong Kong (HKG) over Thanksgiving via Priceline:

Los Angeles (LAX) to Malé (MLE) for $638 round-trip via Hong Kong (HKG) over Halloween via Priceline:

San Francisco (SFO) to Malé (MLE) for $662 round-trip via Hong Kong (HKG) in early October via Hong Kong Airlines:

Los Angeles (LAX) to Malé (MLE) for $672 round-trip via Hong Kong (HKG) in mid-October via Priceline:

Maximize Your Purchase

Don’t forget to use a credit card that earns additional points on airfare purchases, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express (5x on flights booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel), Citi Prestige Card (5x on airfare on plus excellent trip delay insurance), Chase Sapphire ReserveAmerican Express® Gold CardCiti Premier Card (3x on airfare) or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x on all travel purchases). Check out this post for more on maximizing airfare purchases.

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Featured image by Ethan Steinberg / The Points Guy.

H/T: The Flight Deal

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