I have an upcoming trip to MLE on CX using AA award. I’m having a hard time getting excited as the HKG to CMB leg is in old school regional business class and arrives in CMB at 23:00. There is a 9 hour layover in CMB before the morning flight to MLE. What do you do in CMB with a 9 hour layover in CMB? I wish there was a better way to get to MLE.
John is using his American Airlines miles to fly Cathay Pacific to Colombo, Sri Lanka.
He actually wants to go to the Maldives, but that can be a bit of a challenge. There aren’t that many flights in and out of Male, the capital, on ‘alliance’ carriers — those you can use your miles for most of the time.
So many people do wind up flying to Colombo instead. It’s less than 500 miles from the Male, and also one of the lease expensive places in the world to buy airline tickets from. But it’s n extra flight, and not always a convenient place to transit.
In this case, Cathay flights arrive quite late (or even, 3 days a week, after midnight). Personally I’d grab a hotel room for the night instead of hanging around the airport.
There’s been a pretty good increase in options to the Maldives, though, that would actually now discourage me from the Colombo route unless absolutely necessary.
Last year I flew to the Maldives from Singapore on Singapore Airlines. Business class availability is great using Singapore’s own miles (which can be transferred in from American Express Membership Rewards and from Starwood, but awards do entail fuel surcharges).
I plan to take another trip there, this time using American Airlines miles to fly Etihad. Oddly, American will only allow you to fly to the Maldives from the US originating in certain cities. American’s routing rules are somewhat odd, the ‘overwater carrier’ has to publish a fare from your origin to your destination in order to book the trip without spending extra miles, and Etihad doesn’t publish Male fares from all North American cities.
Oneworld is getting a whole bunch of new options to the Maldives since both Malaysia Airlines (which serves Male from Kuala Lumpur) and Sri Lankan will be joining the alliance. Qater is expected to join oneworld as well, and the Middle East is a great way to transit enroute to the Maldives. You’ll be able to use your miles in a whole bunch of new ways to get all the way there. It isn’t just three times a week service on British Airways from Gatwick anymore!
With Delta miles you’ll likely lose the ability to fly Malaysia once it joins oneworld but there are new flights to Male three times a week on Korean via Seoul. And there’s twice a week service on China Southern via Guangzhou (and there’s good award space to Guangzhou from Los Angeles, albeit with fuel surcharges).
Using United or US Airways miles (or Aeroplan miles, etc) in addition to the Singapore option I flew last year there’s now Turkish via Istanbul. And there’s still the possibility of flying Thai Airways to Colombo. There’s an Austrian flight from Vienna to Male, but I have never seen award seats available for it.
The Maldives isn’t easily reached, but in many ways that’s the point, when you are there you are very much secluded. Not a place for being very active, many resorts are on their own atoll and you’re very much stuck. What’s more, the remote location means that it’s often quite an expensive destination. But it’s also a beautiful place, and a wonderful way to really unplug.