Online Travel Review flags that Turkish Airlines will begin flying to the Maldives on November 24th. This is one of the toughest places in the world to get to on points.
The new Turkish service is an 8.5 hour flight on an Airbus A330.
- Istanbul – Male, 8:25pm – 7:10am+1, Turkish Airlines TK730
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday
Male – Istanbul, 9:00am – 2:30pm, Turkish Airlines TK731
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Sunday service
With Qatar leaving as a United mileage partner in mid-September, and with securing Qatar bookings becoming increasingly difficult using United miles, it’s nice to see this addition especially for the Star Alliance.
The only other significant Star Alliance service to Male is Singapore Airlines via Singapore (though in a pinch one could fly Thai Airways via Bangkok to Colombo, Sri Lanka – it’s a cheap 450 mile flight to Male fromthere).
On my trip earlier in the year I spent a few days in Singapore on the front end of the trip and then flew Singapore business class to Male.
On the return, though, this was a really rough way to go — Maldivian domestic flight to Male, connecting to Singapore, then a third ticket flying to Hong Kong before a short Hong Kong stay and then home.
The Turkish flight is pretty good for US to Maldives connections, on the return it leaves just at 9am which if you’re staying at a resort that requires a Maldivian domestic flight to get to, means that you’ll likely need to overnight in Male on your return.
In addition to Singapore and Turkish, another Star Alliance option — exceptionally hard to get award seats on — is the Austrian (Tyrolean) twice-weekly seasonal service from Vienna.
My next trip to the Maldives is going to be on Etihad in first class using American Airlines miles. Etihad offers first class (suites with doors) to Abu Dhabi, and outstanding availability from JFK.
The downsides are that American’s award chart to the “Indian Subcontinent and Middle East” is expensive at 180,000 miles roundtrip in first class (135,000 roundtrip for business) and because of a quirky American AAdvantage rule that requires the overwater carrier to have a published fare between the origin and destination airports — and Etihad doesn’t publish fares between many cities in North America and Male. Thus they’ll often want to charge two awards to get there. I’m taking advantage of the higher cost by doing a stopover in the Middle East during the trip. But it’s still be more miles.
Currently you can use Malaysia Airlines to get to the Maldives using Delta miles, they offer daily service between Kuala Lumpur and Male (and from Los Angeles to Male via Taipei). Delta adds fuel surcharges to this award. Malaysia Airlines is going to be joining oneworld, which means it’ll be an option with American miles soon.
Assuming that Delta’s partnership with Malaysia ends, that will leave Skymiles options to the Maldives limited to Aeroflot’s thrice-weekly service from Moscow and China Southern’s twice weekly from Guanzhou. (Of course, other options exist to Colombo.)
Another oneworld option is to fly British Airways to London, and then their Gatwick flight to Male.
Other non-alliance options include:
- Air India daily service from Bangalore and Trivandrum
- Bangkok Airways from Bangkok
- Emirates from Dubai
- Oman five times weekly from Oman
- Charter airline Mega Maldives flies from Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, and Chengdu
(Photos from my stay at the Park Hyatt Maldives)