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.
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.
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.
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.
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.