I do what I can to share my thought process when booking award tickets and planning my travel.
I do it not only because I value the feedback you guys provide, but also because my hope is that “talking” through my thought process helps others that are in a similar planning situation.
As y’all know, I’m headed to the Maldives soon. And if there’s one destination that it’s not easy to plan a trip to/from, it’s the Maldives. So far I’ve asked you guys for feedback/shared my thought process on:
- Whether to upgrade at the Park Hyatt Maldives or not, given the “buy up” options for overwater villas (at this point I’m leaning towards not upgrading and instead just taking what they give me)
- Whether to fly Kuwait Airways or Qatar Airways on the flight from Colombo back to the US, thanks to the cheap business class fares published out of there (I’m still undecided on that)
I’ve kind of realized that my top priority for planning this trip should be figuring out how to get to the Maldives, given that the rest of the trip isn’t happening if I can’t get there.
I’ve been pondering the options for booking a ticket, and have a few different mileage currencies I’m thinking of using. One thing to keep in mind is that Colombo, Sri Lanka is only an hour flight from Male, The Maldives.
The reason that matters is because on the American AAdvantage award chart, Colombo is considered “Asia 2” (which from the US costs 55,000 miles in one-way business class or 67,500 miles in one-way first class), while Male is considered “Middle East” (which from the US costs 67,500 miles in one-way business class or 90,000 miles in one-way first class).
Not that it’s a deal breaker one way or another, but it is worth keeping in mind, since you can easily book a cheap ticket between the two.
With that in mind, which routings to the Maldives am I considering?
JAL Business Class + SriLankan Business Class
Cost: 55,000 American AAdvantage miles
I recently flew Japan Airlines’ new first class for the first time, which was absolutely fantastic.
Japan Airlines’ new first class product
Japan Airlines’ new business class product looks great, so I’d be curious to try it.
Then SriLankan also has a new business class product on their Airbus A330-300s. They fly this plane on some days between Tokyo Narita and Colombo, which is a roughly nine hour flight.
SriLankan’s A330 new business class product
It’s tough to beat the value of flying from New York to Tokyo to Colombo on a single 55,000 mile business class award, for example.
Cathay Pacific First Class + SriLankan Business Class
Cost: 67,500 American AAdvantage miles
Here’s the issue. I could also for 67,500 American miles fly Cathay Pacific first class from the US to Hong Kong — which unarguably is way superior to business class on any airline — and then connect from Hong Kong to Colombo (via Bangkok) on one of SriLankan’s A330s with their slightly less modern business class product.
Cathay Pacific’s first class product
Cathay Pacific’s The Wing First Class Lounge Hong Kong Airport
Frankly I struggle with not spending an extra 12,500 miles to fly first class over business class on a 15+ hour flight.
Etihad 787 First Class
Cost: 90,000 American AAdvantage miles
Etihad’s 787 First Suite
So in theory I could fly Etihad’s 787-9 first class product through Abu Dhabi to get to the Maldives.
Singapore Airlines Suites Class
Cost: 102,650 Singapore KrisFlyer miles
One other great option is Singapore Airlines Suites Class, which is one of my favorite products in the world. All my A380 travel on Singapore lately has been between New York and Frankfurt. While that’s a lovely fifth freedom route, I don’t think it’s totally indicative of service in Suites Class, given what a quick overnight sector it is.
Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class
I’d be curious to finally try Suites Class on a longhaul daytime flight, and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles are easy to accrue. Furthermore, for $100 I could add a stopover in Singapore for as long as I’d like.
Ultimately there are dozens of other itinerary combinations out there that could work, but the above four are the ones I’m most carefully considering.
In general I’m thinking:
- Trying both Japan Airlines’ and Sri Lankan’s new products would be cool
- In terms of marginal value it’s tough not to redeem an extra 12,500 miles for Cathay Pacific first class over business class on other airlines
- I’ve done Etihad many times before, but is the 787 unique and interesting enough that I should try it?
- Can you ever go wrong with Singapore Airlines?
I’m curious, which routing would you book? Or would you do something completely different than the above?