Maldives is an island nation located in the Indian Ocean southwest of Sri Lanka and is a popular resort. Since we are Life, Tailored if we’re going to send you half way around the world, you know it’s going to be epic, it’s also going to be in first class, and significantly less money than you thought you’d be spending.
How To Get To The Maldives in First Class With Points
If you’re taking a 17 hour flight, you need to do it in either business class or first class, otherwise you’ll lose your mind. At Life, Tailored we would never recommend paying full price for a first class ticket, so we’re going to show you how you can book a $16,000 fare for basically free using credit card points.
To start our first class journey, first you need to figure out what flights go to Male. Following Trevor’s guide on Tagging Miles using OpenFlights, we can find out that there are 44 routes to the MLE airport
However, there’s only 37 actual flights as 7 are codeshares. The best way to go to the Maldives would be to fly on a Middle East carrier and connect from their hub to MLE. We’ll use this guide from MilesAbound on the routing using the Middle Eastern carriers:
Emirates has two daily direct flights from it’s home hub in Dubai and MLE, along with two flights from Colombo, Sri Lanka (CMB). The DXB flights provide three class (First, Business and Coach) into MLE so Emirate is one of only two airlines (the other being Korean Air) you can fly to the Maldives to in First Class. Availability can be checked using ExpertFlyer and generally seems to be pretty decent as long as you are flexible with dates.
Etihad has daily service to MLE from their home in Abu Dhabi (AUH) in the United Arab Emirates, with an extensive network on from AUH to the Americas, Europe and Asia/Australasia. From North America they fly to and from New York, Chicago, Toronto, Washington DC and Los Angeles. The flight between AUH and MLE is on a two-class regional A320. Awards can be redeemed either through Etihad’s own Etihad Guest program – which is a transfer partner airline with Starwood Preferred Guest – or through their partnership with American Airlines, or by transferring SPG or Amex Membership Rewards to ANA, who are also a partner.
Qatar: Qatar has twice daily service to and from MLE from their home in Doha (DOH). They use a regional configured Airbus A320 for the 2,056 mile journey. From DOH there are excellent onward connections to much of the world. For North American passengers there are flights to New York JFK, Washington DC IAD, Philadelphia, Montreal YUL and Houston IAH.
The best way to make this journey in first class is to collect American Airline AAdvantage miles. As MilesAbound pointed out, you can redeem the AAdvantage miles to use on Etihad because they are partners and with Qatar because of the OneWorld affiliation. Review MilesAbound’s trip reports as he has flown on Emirates and Etihad first class to determine what flight options are best for you.
As of writing this today, you would need 180,000 AAdvantage miles for a round trip for one person to land in MLE in first class. How do you accumulate that many miles? You can do something like what Andrew did and buy gift cards to earn the miles or you can sign up for multiple American Airline credit cards to achieve the 180,000 miles per person. I’m no pro in redeeming points or miles for travel and I will have to refer you to check out the Saverocity Forum to answer any specific questions.
If you’re not excited yet – check out this picture from AirTeam Images aboard a Boeing 777 First Class enclosed suite.
With any luck, as you plan and their continued roll out, you could try to snag a seat aboard Etihad’s brand new First Class on the A380 for a suite called an Apartment. Check out Ben’s review on the inaugural.
Where To Stay in the Maldives?
Remember, the Maldives is an island nation and there are many islands. There are various hotels on different islands including many of the big chain hotels like Starwood, Hyatt, and Hilton. For this article, we’ll look at the Hilton program and look at staying at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island.
The Conrad is a category 10 hotel and requires 95,000 Hilton HHonor points per night according to their reward calculator. Let’s say you want to stay for 7 nights, this will require a whopping 665,000 points if you don’t know the ins and outs of the program.
In fact, it will cost you 380,000 Hilton points if you choose the Fifth Night Free option and if you sign up for the Citi Hilton Reserve credit as your best option for the 7 nights at this Conrad. What you need to do for the fifth night free option is to do Monday to Friday as the Citi card offers 2 free Weekend nights for your 7 night stay. Earning 380,000 points is not insurmountable because if you sign up for every Hilton card around, as of writing this, you will earn 140,000 points with the 2 free Weekend nights. If you only stick with the Hilton credit cards, you will need to do a little creative “spending” to fill in the gap for the remaining points. Again, check out the Saverocity Forum to fill in the gaps. If signing up for credit cards is part of your plan, then the easiest way to fill in the gap is probably to sign up for the Hawaiian Airlines and Virgin Atlantic credit cards as you can transfer at a rate of 1 mile into 1.5 Hilton HHonor points.
As long as their is a availability to their standard room, the King Beach Villa is available, you can snag the room at 95,000 points per night
Because the Conrad is so exclusive, searching online availability looks good all year round and you should have no issues booking your 7 night stay. If you can’t find availability online, you should ask the customer service rep. Below is a screenshot of the Hilton Website showing the average price calculating correctly for the Fifth Night Free:
Your Trip to The Maldives for Free With Points
To pull of this amazing trip all for (almost) free with points is doable, here are the breakdowns.
- 180,000 American Airline Miles per person
- 380,000 Hilton HHonor points
- 2 night weekend certificate from the Citi Hilton Reserve card
The totals here does not account for airfare taxes, hotel resort fees, additional airfare that are required to transport you from MLE to Rangali Island, fees associated to earn points, or the time spent in this venture. While not quite “free” it’ll be substantially cheaper than paying outright in cash that will be tens of thousands of dollars. Enjoy your first class vacation for an economy price!
This trip is completely doable, in fact, Life Tailored’s founder, Andrew Wise, recently flew in Singapore Suites $16,000 cabin all with points. Let us know if you want any help figuring out the booking, the trip, etc. we’re here to help!
About Chasing The Points:
Chasing The Points is the author of Chasing The Points blog on the Saverocity network. He specializes in finding opportunities to earn credit card points and miles as cheap as possible. You can catch him and the rest of the team on the Saverocity Forum discussing many topics from credit cards to award booking services to redeem for trips like this!