Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Cathay Pacific launching Maldives flights to Male from October 27th

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When we went to the Maldives, five years ago, it was a pain. At that point, British Airways did not fly the route. We ended up routing ourselves London-Frankfurt-Dubai (on Lufthansa miles) with a connection to a paid Dubai-Male flight that departed at 4am or something equally silly.

Coming back, we bought a one-way ticket on Emirates for cash through to London, since at that time (no longer) they offered exceptionally cheap tickets out of Male.

Since then, getting to the Maldives has become easier. BA launched the route, of course. As I wrote last year, Turkish Airlines is offering Male now as well, offering an option for Star Alliance miles holders.

And now, BA’s partner Cathay Pacific is launching flights from Hong Kong, starting in late October.

Now, lets be clear about this. Flying to the Maldives via Hong Kong is neither a cheap nor short thing to do! However, if:

you really want to go to the Maldives but BA isn’t showing Avios seats

you are happy with a two-centre holiday (ie Hong Kong and the Maldives)

you are flush with Avios

you are travelling as a couple and not with children

then it might work!

Cathay will fly to Male four times a week, on Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. The outbound timing is poor, leaving Hong Kong at 5.15pm and arriving at 9.25pm. Coming back, it is better (assuming you can get a late check-out at your resort), with an 11.35pm departure and an arrival into Hong Kong at 8.55am.

They are using an A330 with fully-flat seats in business class, which look pretty good:


It is a long flight from Hong Kong at 7 hours. You are looking at 50,000 Avios per person, return, in Business Class – and that is on top of the Avios needed to get to Hong Kong.

They also seem to limit Business Class redemptions seats to 2 per flight, which is why I said that this option was only good for a couple, not a family. I was struggling to find a lot of days with availability, so you’d need to be flexible.

Another option, by the way, is Malaysia Airways. Availability from Kuala Lumpur to Male in Business Class seems to be excellent, far better than with Cathay. This is just a four hour flight. However, it is still 40,000 Avios per person, return, in Business Class and they appear to be running a Boeing 737 on the route – potentially with short haul seats? For four hours, though, 20,000 Avios per person, return, in Economy may be better.

Neither of these options make a lot of sense if you’re simply planning to go to The Maldives and back. Your availability options will certainly improve, though, if you build in an Asian stopover as well. You could even mix and match these flights with the BA direct services in order to get availability for the dates you want.

Qatar Airways entry into oneworld on October 30th will also open up other options, with a potential routing via Doha. Other options include flying on BA to the Middle East or India – or even Singapore, which is a short onward flight – and getting a connecting flight for cash.

Comments (14)

  • chan says:

    Dont forget using AA miles, a OW partner, you can fly with Etihad. We did club on BA over and J/F back with EY. Was a nice flight.

  • Sir Stamford says:

    “Another option, by the way, is Malaysia Airways…. However, it is still 40,000 Avios per person, return, in Business Class and they appear to be running a Boeing 737 on the route – potentially with short haul seats? For four hours, though, 20,000 Avios per person, return, in Economy may be better.”

    Redeeming in economy class and especially on Malaysia Airlines (MH) is never good value. MH is currently offering return flights to MLE from KUL for MYR1,109 (or about £220) for the random dates I selected in November 2013. (These fares are available directly from MH’s website.) Redeeming in Avios makes absolutely no sense given that you have to spend 20,000 Avios + £180.50 in cash, effectively giving you a 0.2p value per Avios!

    As for J, MH is charging MYR2,063 (circa £400). Redeeming 40,000 Avios plus £205.50 on MH would give a value of 0.5p per Avios. Again, not a brilliant redemption. The J seats on the 737-800s are acceptable for a 4 hour flight. They are not flat beds but a decent regional J class seat with limited recline as opposed to many European airlines who just block the middle seat in a row of three seats that would otherwise classify as Economy seats.

    Sir Stamford

  • Rich says:

    Thanks for this, Raffles. I will shortly be planning a trip to the Maldives for my honeymoon next year and we fit the criteria for your post exactly – a stop over is actually preferable in our case. I have around 100K Avios to play with plus a BA 2 for 1 voucher, I will calculate the best use of Avios on the various partners. Going to wait to see what Qatar brings to the table, although in reality I think it will boil down largely to availability.

  • Ducky says:

    If you are looking to travel beyond Q2 2014 it may be worth keeping an eye on Srilankan Airlines joining OW.

  • Iain Beale says:

    It’s good that more options are opening up to get there. Now just need to try to save some money on the hotel. Is it just me or are the hotels there ball achingly expensive?

    • Waribai says:

      Hotels are the big expense. When we went in 2010 for our honeymoon. I signed up for an SPG corporate account and got 40% off at Full Moon and also W. Went for a room only rate on a water bungalow and we got breakfast anyway. They never checked to see if it was included in our rate!
      View from the Wing had a very good article about getting Park Hyatt Maldives and at a very good rate too.

    • Rob says:

      There is a Holiday Inn!

      Radisson is also developing a couple of resorts which should be a good use of Club Carlson points

      • xcalx says:

        And very nice it is too. Its nothing like what you would imagine a regular Holiday Inn to be. We have stayed there twice (using the BMI zone 10 route Oh happy days) on the last occasion, this January we were upgraded to an overwater bungalow. We used points both times The first time it was only 5000 Priority Points per night and 1500 the last time,. Great use of the Priority Club CC sign up bonus

        • Rob says:

          Checking a random date in Feb it is $319 + 19% tax or 35,000 IHG points, which makes it one of the better uses of points.

          • xcalx says:

            I meant 15000 last time … The point requirement with al hotel chains has shot up for certain properties that used to real bargains. I can remember getting the Grand Hyatt Bali for 35000 Hyatt points for 7 nights.