Cathay Pacific to launch service to the Maldives as of October 27, 2013

For a while now there have been rumors of Cathay Pacific launching service to the Maldives, though up until now it has been nothing more than that. Well, Cathay Pacific has finally confirmed the rumors by loading the route into the GDS, as they’ll be launching 4x weekly service to Male, Maldives as of October 27, 2013.

The service will be operated by a longhaul configured Airbus A330 aircraft, featuring fully flat beds in business class.

Cathay_Pacific_A330_Business_Class
Cathay Pacific A330 business class seat

Cathay_Pacific_A330_Seatmap
Cathay Pacific A330 business class seatmap

It will operate Sundays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays with the following schedule:

CX601 Hong Kong to Male departing 5:15PM arriving 9:25PM
CX602 Male to Hong Kong departing 11:35PM arriving 8:55AM (+1 day)

Since most resorts in the Maldives require a boat and/or seaplane transfer, the arrival time isn’t ideal given that for most resorts you’ll first have to spend a night in Male. However, the return flight time is ideal, given that you can enjoy the day at your resort and then later in the afternoon make your transfer to Male Airport.

Award availability has already been loaded for this route, and it appears as if they’re loading two business class award seats per flight, and in most cases at least nine coach award seats per flight.

Cathay_Pacific_Award_Availability

This is huge news for those that want to travel to the Maldives, given that it can be one of the toughest destinations to get to on miles. Having this much award availability and a route that’s so easy to connect to from dozens of gateways around the world is really valuable.

If booking through British Airways Avios, it’s worth noting that Hong Kong to Male is just under 3,000 miles one-way, meaning a one-way business class award ticket would cost 25,000 Avios, while a one-way economy class award ticket would cost 12,500 Avios, in addition to the taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges.

Avios_Business_Class
One-way business class cost in Avios

Avios_Economy_Class
One-way economy class cost in Avios

Meanwhile if you’re using American miles, the Maldives is considered to be “Indian Subcontinent/Middle East” region, and American does have some silly restrictions regarding their routing rules whereby you can’t transit a third region when enroute between two regions with limited exceptions, as discussed in this post.

So if you were to ordinarily travel directly between North America and the Middle East you’d pay 67,500 miles one-way in business class or 90,000 miles one-way in first class.

American_AAdvantage_Award_Chart

However, if you instead went via Asia on Cathay Pacific you’d have to book it as two awards. The first award from North American to Asia would cost you 55,000 miles in business class or 67,500 miles in first class. Then the ticket from Asia to the Maldives would run you 30,000 miles in business class (there’s no first class). So you’d end up paying a total of 85,000 miles for a one-way in business class or 97,500 miles for a one-way in first class to Asia with a connection in business class, which isn’t a huge premium over the 90,000 miles you’d pay “direct” in first class. I’d say the ideal situation is probably to book an award using American AAdvantage miles as far as Hong Kong, and then an award using British Airways Avios between Hong Kong and the Maldives.

This might also be a case where booking a distance based OneWorld Explorer award is worth considering.

Anyway, this is no doubt an extremely convenient option for those looking to go to the Maldives.

Male_Airport
Taking off Male Airport

Comments

  1. Ben, what’s an ideal threshold in your opinion (I know you will exclusively choose F or J but for someone with limited Avios) – to pick Y over J (to save miles, of course) in terms of flight duration?

    This one here is 7+ hours and I think J is preferable, but when does it start mattering to most? At 3 hour mark or 5 or … ?

    May be other readers can also chime in with their opinions!

  2. @ ttt — While that’s what airlineroute.net says, the GDS shows 4x weekly service, so I would assume that’s correct.

  3. @ Apurva — That’s a toughie. With Avios it’s actually pretty straightforward since awards are priced based on distance. So there aren’t flights where you get an “amazing” value and flights where you get a “horrible” value, generally.

    In this case it’s a 12,500 mile “upcharge” for business class one-way. I’d say that’s almost a no brainer for a 6-7 hour flight where you’d get a fully flat bed.

  4. @ ttt — Whoops, it’s way too late for me to be blogging. You’re absolutely right, thanks for the heads up. Fixed.

  5. Lucky, wouldn’t using AA miles going all the way to CMB (67.5K in first) and then 4500 avios from CMB to MLE with avios with sri lankan airline (after they join 1 World) be the “cheapest” way there? But this route is excellent for Australians only 45K AA miles from SYD to MLE in biz.

  6. @ David — Yes, excellent point, though you’re looking at adding an extra connection, and the HKG-CMB flight isn’t well timed for connections. Definitely makes sense under some circumstances, though.

  7. It is my understanding that most resorts will pick you up by seaplane at whatever time your flight arrives, since even the city of Male is on a different island from the airport (and is not anywhere that tourists would typically want to visit). So I don’t imagine the inbound flight time would be too much trouble, other than that it requires you to pay for a hotel night without getting any corresponding daylight time before that night.

  8. Another Option is to use Alaska Airline, It offers 30K Eco/50K biz/70K first one way from North america to Asia when you travel via CX.

  9. Great to have this option!

    Right now, I”m holding CX RT F to Singapore, and an SQ RT business class RT SIN-MLE using USAIR miles (30k RT).

    I’ll have to see whether it’s worth it to change. I have overnight in SIN each way, but it might be nice to break up the flight their than MLE.

    I wish AA didn’t have their silly rule regarding regions.

  10. Thanks for posting this Ben! Being currently based in HKG, this is a most welcoming news for me! 50k avios round trip in business, compare to 80k round trip for SQ via UA miles, great deal!!! I will be lookinig into this for my Conrad Rangali visit in August 2014!

  11. What is the best way to view CP availability.
    CP costs $50 to join?
    Will BA or AA show all availability

  12. Just booked for January! MLE-HKG-JFK-DCA certainly beats our previous routing of MLE-CMB-KUL-HKG-JFK-DCA! The MLE-HKG flight is really well timed for sleep.

  13. @bob s I was able to see the flight just fine on BA.com … Lucky’s image above also is from BA, so looks like that’s the way to go for this flight.

  14. mmmm…I already have CMB-HKG-LAX booked. Ben do you you think it makes sense to change MLE-HKG-LAX with additional miles and fees (I’m AA Exp but not my partner)? MLE-CMB is relative cheap flight but MLE-HKG is fully laid flat and direct without connecting at either BKK or SIN.

  15. @ AC — That’s a real roughie. You’d be paying an extra 30,000 miles, so assuming you have a good number of miles and value the convenience I’d probably make the switch. There’s something to be said for getting a fully flat product out of the Maldives and skipping an additional connection.

  16. @Phillip, thanks for the reminder. I do follow that thread on FT, and my dates to CR is from Aug 22-Aug 27 2014. Should be alright. Now I just gotta figure out my exact itinerary involvoing AUH, DXB, SIN, and HKG.

  17. Ben,

    Perhaps the best way is with Alaska miles, if they allow HKG-MLE to be bookable? JFK-HKG-MLE, stopover in HKG, 62.5k in J, 70k in F!

  18. @Simon, I believe @Jeff is right. MLE is more likely considered “Africa/India/MiddleEast” which is 62.5k for business. IMO 50k would be amazing, but 62.5k is not. Including stopover in HKG, 70k for F is pretty good. I’d prefer the longer flight to S. Africa for 70k though.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *