Back in October, Cathay Pacific launched 4x weekly service to the Maldives. This was no doubt an exciting development, not just because it’s a route that wasn’t previously served, but in particular because OneWorld was lacking decent options to the Maldives.
What was puzzling is that up until last week they only loaded the route through March 31, 2014. Based on what I’ve heard the route is struggling, with low load factors in both economy and business class, though that’s to be expected on a new route. It takes some time before you get a “return on investment” on a new leisure route. This obviously led to the question as to whether they were planning on discontinuing the service as of March, because it really doesn’t make sense to only load availability four months out, especially since the Maldives is a destination that a lot of people plan trips to nearly a year out.
It’s worth noting that Cathay Pacific has finally updated their schedule, and availability has now been loaded through October 25, 2014. The flight will continue to be operated by an Airbus A330-300, with fully flat reverse herringbone seats in business class.
Award availability on the route continues to be fairly good, with Cathay Pacific releasing two award seats in economy class and two award seats in business class on most flights.
For those looking to redeem miles on the flight, just a quick reminder about the best ways to go about that, as I covered in the last post.
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, happy to see this route extended!