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By: Travis Cormier
The Maldives is considered one of the most luxurious island destinations you can visit on earth. Seclusion, luxury and the gorgeous Instagram-worthy scenes attract people from around the world to this island nation.
Getting to the Maldives is no small feat, though. From my hometown of Houston, the Maldives islands are nearly 10,000 miles away. With that in mind, you should anticipate the trip taking at least 24 hours (trust me, it is worth it).
You won’t find any non-stop routes from the U.S. to the Maldives but there are a number of options that connect in Asia and the Middle East
Let’s explore some of the best ways to use miles and points to use to fly to the Maldives.
- Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
- American Airlines AAdvantage
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- All Nippon Airways Mileage Club
- Japan Airlines
If you’re wanting to travel to the Maldives, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is one of the best ways to get there. Alaska has different award charts for different partners, so what airline you fly on will impact the amount of points you pay.
Keep in mind, with an Alaska Airlines award ticket you can only fly on Alaska Airlines flights and the one partner airline you have chosen. You cannot mix and match partners. Because of this, you may have to use a positioning flight in addition to your award ticket.
Economy Flights on Emirates
For flyers in an economy, you’ll want to use Alaska Mileage Plan to fly on Emirates. This will cost 42,500 miles each way, or 85,000 miles round-trip per person. Taxes and fees are quite low as well, starting at $25 one-way from the U.S. to the Maldives, and $92 on the return flight.
Emirates flies from a number of US cities. If you can’t find availability from your hometown, try searching from these cities to the Maldives (MLE).
Emirates usually has pretty good award availability for economy class, so you shouldn’t have too big of an issue finding flights.
Premium Cabins on Cathay Pacific
Given the flying time to the Maldives, you may want to step up to a premium experience for the long journey. Alaska Airlines charges some of the fewest miles for a long-haul premium cabin experience to the Maldives. The following chart outlines how many Alaska Mileage Plan miles you will need to get to the Maldives on Cathay Pacific.
Cathay Pacific first class award availability can be difficult to come by. If you can find it, it will only cost you 25,000 more miles round-trip to book it. Business class availability can be hit or miss, but booking long before or just before departure is often your best bet.
When searching for award availability, you can look to a few major U.S. cities now. The current and future cities are:
- Boston (BOS)
- Chicago (ORD)
- Los Angeles (LAX)
- New York (JFK)
- San Francisco (SFO)
- Washington DC (IAD)
- Seattle (SEA) – beginning April 2019
If you’re curious about what premium economy is like, our Editor in Chief, Spencer Howard, compares it to domestic first class, but slightly better.
How to Book Flights with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Miles
For some airline partners, you can search and book directly on the Alaska website. Others require you to search elsewhere and will require a phone call to complete your reservation.
Booking an Emirates award flight with Alaska Mileage Plan is quite simple. You simply search on Alaska’s website. Once you find your desired flights, you can complete your booking online. If you know your dates, booking can take as little as 5 minutes.
Unfortunately, booking an award ticket on Cathay Pacific is not quite as easy as you’ll need to call Alaska Airlines (1-800-252-7522) to book.
To find award space on Cathay Pacific, you can search with British Airways — you’ll need to set up a free account first. Since your itinerary will include multiple flights, it’s best to search by segment as British Airways struggles with multi-segment searches.
Once you find dates with award space, you can call Alaska Air to book.
Alaska Mileage Plan will allow you to include a stopover in Hong Kong, so feel free to add a few days between leaving Hong Kong to the Maldives. A stopover can actually make it easier to find premium cabin award space as it allows you a little more flexibility if there isn’t award space the same day you land at HKG.
A little schedule flexibility will go a long way to getting premium cabin flights to the Maldives.
One thing to keep in mind, Cathay Pacific does not release the same availability to Alaska Mileage Plan as it does to its Oneworld partners so don’t be surprised if you run into this issue. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know in advance what seats are available to Alaska.
How to Earn Alaska Mileage Plan Miles
Clearly, Alaska Mileage Plan miles are a great way to get you to the Maldives. The toughest part will be earning the required miles as Alaska Airlines isn’t a transfer partner of Amex, Chase or Citi.
However, Bank of America does issue co-branded card that earns Alaska miles directly. Additionally, you can transfer Marriott Rewards points which can be earned with the co-branded Chase cards or the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) cards issued by American Express.
Cards to Help You Earn More Alaska Miles
American AAdvantage miles are a great way to fly to the Maldives, it’s how I flew to the Maldives and I highly recommend it.
American Airlines classifies the Maldives as part of the Indian Subcontinent region. Here are the one-award rates:
- Economy – 40,000
- Business – 70,000
- First – 115,000
American has some pretty restrictive routing rules but you’ll still have three great ways to use miles to the Maldives:
- Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong (HKG)
- Etihad Airways via Abu Dhabi (AUH)
- Qatar Airways via Doha (DOH)
How to Book with American Airlines AAdvantage Miles
You won’t be able to search award space for any of these on American’s site. For Cathay Pacific or Qatar Airways, search with British Airways. To find award space on Etihad, search on Etihad’s website and look for “Guest Seat” space.
Once you find award space, call American Airlines at 800-882-8880 to book your flight. Because you cannot book this award online, you will not be charged for a phone booking fee.
How to earn more AAdvantage Miles
You can easily earn AAdvantage miles directly with several co-branded credit cards.
You can also transfer Marriott Rewards points to your American AAdvantage account. To earn more Marriott points, you can use one of several co-branded cards issued by Chase or American Express.
Cards to Help You Earn More American Miles
Air Canada Aeroplan is a great way to book a trip to the Maldives, especially in business class.
As part of Star Alliance, you can use Aeroplan to book an award on any Star Alliance carriers. The most common routes to the Maldives will route through Europe on Turkish Airlines, though Austrian, Lufthansa and Edelweiss Air (owned by SWISS) operate seasonal routes.
One-way award costs are fairly reasonable:
- Economy: 50,000 miles
- Premium Economy: 65,000 miles
- Business: 75,000 miles
- First: 105,000 miles
How To Book With Aeroplan
Booking a trip to the Maldives is easy using Aeroplan as you can search and book online. Keep in mind, Aeroplan’s website can struggle with multi-segment itineraries. Just because Aeroplan isn’t showing the availability online doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Search one segment at a time to find all your needed flights and call in at 1-800-361-5373. You will pay a small phone booking fee of C$30 (~$24 USD).
Taxes and fees will vary depending on what carriers you fly. Aeroplan doesn’t pass on surcharges on awards with some partners but these fees can be steep when they do.
Because you will likely be routing through Europe on your way to the Maldives, try to find availability on one of the following partners if you want to avoid surcharges:
- Aegean Airlines
- Air India
- Air New Zealand
- Brussels Airlines
- Croatia Airlines
- Ethiopian Airlines
- Scandinavian Airlines (SAS)
- Singapore Airlines
- Swiss Air
- Turkish Airlines
- United Airlines
How to earn Aeroplan Miles
Aeroplan is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards. There are many cards that earn Membership Rewards that come with useful bonus categories and often have solid welcome bonuses. You can also earn miles Aeroplan miles directly with the TD Bank Aeroplan card.
Cards to Help You Earn More Aeroplan Miles
Keep in mind, American Express limits you to one welcome bonus per card, per lifetime.
All Nippon Airways (ANA) is a Japanese airline with some great sweet spots in its award chart and is a great option for economy and business class awards to the Maldives — the first class rate isn’t quite as good.
You should be aware that ANA only allows round-trip bookings so you’ll need to use another program if you only need a one-way award. Here are the round-trip Star Alliance redemption rates:
- Economy – 80,000 miles
- Business – 136,000 miles
- First – 240,000 miles
How to book with ANA Mileage Club
The easiest way to book with ANA miles is online. The ANA website does a great job of piecing together longer itineraries like the ones you will find when traveling to the Maldives.
Taxes and fees are reasonable, starting around €350 (approximately $400USD at the time of writing) round-trip in business class on highly rated airlines such as ANA and Singapore airlines.
Both Aeroplan and ANA are Star Alliance members, so you’ll need to know when to use ANA or Aeroplan. For economy or business class, you should look to ANA if you want to book a round-trip ticket. If you want to fly first class you should use Aeroplan since the cost is cheaper.
If you don’t have enough points for a round-trip ticket on ANA, you’ll need to use Aeroplan since you can book one-way with Aeroplan miles.
How to earn ANA Mileage Club Miles
Like Aeroplan, the best way to earn ANA Mileage Club miles is to transfer American Express Membership Rewards. There are plenty of Membership Rewards earning cards that often have great welcome bonuses. Just remember, American Express limits you to one sign up bonus per card, per lifetime.
Cards to Help You Earn More ANA Miles
If you’re looking to use the fewest miles possible, Japan Airlines Mileage Bank is the way to go. Regardless of the class of service, you won’t find an option that requires less — of course, it’s not the easiest to earn JAL Mileage Bank miles.
Japan Airlines uses a distance-based award chart for partner awards. Japan Airlines is part of Oneworld, but also has partner airlines that are not part of Oneworld. There is a different award chart for each.
Depending on your origin city and destination, flying to the Maldives will be anywhere from about 15,000 flight miles round-trip to 25,000 flight miles (or more) depending on your route. You can find your trip distance by using Great Circle Mapper.
Some itineraries will be longer and require more stops, which may push you into a higher mileage tier. Since most flights will be between 15,000 and 25,000 miles, let’s look at how many JAL Mileage Bank miles you will need.
How to book with Japan Airlines Mileage Bank
You can try booking an award online, but you’ll quickly find that Japan Airlines’ online booking system is not the best. The easiest way to book an award flight with Japan Airlines is to find the available award seats and then call into their booking desk at 1-800-525-3663.
If you’re looking for award availability on a Oneworld member, search with British Airways or Qantas. If you’re searching for Emirates award space, you can search with Alaska Airlines or Qantas.
How to Earn Japan Airlines Miles
JAL Mileage Bank miles aren’t the easiest to earn but, considering how few you’ll need, it can be worth it.
Marriott Rewards points transfer to JAL Mileage Bank at a 3:1 ratio. You’ll receive a 5,000-mile bonus when you transfer 60,000 Marriott rewards points which will get you 25,000 JAL miles.
Another and often overlooked option is to transfer points from the Barclays Arrival Premier. Arrival Premier points transfer to JAL Mileage Bank at a 1.7 to 1 ratio, meaning you will earn 1 JAL Mileage Bank mile for every 1.7 Arrival Premier points you transfer.
You’ll earn 2 points per dollar spent on this card, so you effectively earn 1.7 JAL Mileage Bank mile for every dollar you spend. This is about the same as you previously could earn by transferring SPG Starpoints to JAL Mileage Bank.
Cards to Help You Earn More JAL Miles
There are a lot of great ways to get to the Maldives. No matter how you get there, you’re going to be in the air for a long time. Long flights can be expensive, so using the right points and miles can help you save a ton of money on airfare.
You can fly economy for as low as 40,000 miles one-way when you use AAdvantage miles. If a luxurious flight experience is more appealing for your long journey, you can fly round-trip using ANA for only 136,000 miles in business class.
However you choose to get there, I know you’ll never forget the turquoise blue water and the white sandy island paradise that soon awaits you.
Editor’s Note: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.