Our $27,000 Vacation to the Maldives for ~$4,300 & How You Can Do It Too: Part 13 – Male Airport and Plaza Premium Lounge

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Emily Jablon:  Daraius and I used our miles and points to have a fabulous honeymoon in Bora Bora.

We heard that the Maldives Islands rivaled the beauty and splendor of Bora Bora, so we planned a trip to decide for ourselves!

The Maldives is known for its luxury resorts, and most resorts have their own private island.  There are beautiful white sand beaches and crystal clear blue water.  The islands also have fantastic snorkeling and scuba diving!

We booked 5 nights using Hilton points at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island.  The Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is a 30-minute seaplane ride from Male, the capital of the Maldives.  We booked this trip to make the most of our Hilton points before the Hilton devaluation last year.

Male Airport Lounge
My Mom Looking for Treats to Bring Home

Our $27,000 Vacation to the Maldives for ~$5,000 & How You Can Do it Too Trip Report Index:

The Maldives are located in the Indian Ocean, just south of India.  Getting to the Maldives is a long journey, but the trip is definitely worth it!  Daraius and I have been to many beach destinations such as Bora BoraMaui, and Kauai on miles and points, but the Maldives tops them all!

Traveling to the Maldives is also very expensive, but you can do it for much less than the retail cost!  This trip would have cost us ~$27,000, but we only paid ~$4,300!! These series of posts will show you how you can also take a trip to the Maldives on miles and points!

Male Airport

The Male airport doesn’t have too much.  There’s a Burger King…

Male Airport Lounge
This Is the Only King You’ll Find in the Maldives.  The Islands Became a Presidential Republic in 1968.
…a coffee shop, ice cream, and a Thai restaurant.
Male Airport Lounge
Another Affordable Dining Option Before Your Flight

If you need cash, there’s also an ATM in the airport.

However, you won’t find a whole lot of shopping until you get through security.  We found lots of souvenirs, including shell purses…

Male Airport Lounge
These Shell Purses Were $45
…wooden mugs…
Male Airport Lounge
The Salt & Pepper Shakers Would Make a Nice Gift
…T-shirts, and tea.  We also found shell jewelry.
Male Airport Lounge
I Loved the Colorful Bangles

And lots of postcards.

Male Airport Lounge
If You Have a Friend Who Collects Postcards, There Are Some Beautiful Ones to Choose From at the Male Airport

We found the Etihad counter and checked-in for our flight to Hong Kong.

Male Airport Lounge
Check-in for Your Etihad Business Class Flight Here

This check-in area was small, but it was a quieter and more comfortable room than the regular check-in counters.

Male Airport Lounge
Relax in These Comfortable Chairs Instead of Standing in Line

After checking-in, we were given our boarding passes, went through security, and to the lounge.

Plaza Premium Lounge

We had access to the Plaza Premium Lounge because we had Business Class tickets with Etihad.

You can also get access if you are flying Business or First Class on most airlines out of Male airport.

Male Airport Lounge
If You’re Flying Coach You Can Pay ~$50 per Person to Access the Plaza Premium Lounge

Certain card holders also get free access to the lounge.

Male Airport Lounge
These AMEX Cards, Issued in Hong Kong, Give You Free Access to Plaza Premium Lounge

The lounge was much nicer than I expected.

Male Airport Lounge
The Dim Lighting Created a Calm & Relaxing Atmosphere

There were a few big comfortable chairs that would be ideal for a nap!

Male Airport Lounge
Daraius Almost Fell Asleep While I Was Taking This Photo

There were computers…

Male Airport Lounge
You Can Check Your Email on the Free Computers

And lots of tables and chairs near the buffet.

Male Airport Lounge
Everything Looked Very Clean

The buffet had a decent selection of food.

Male Airport Lounge
Watch Out Daraius!!  The Carrots and Lettuce Are Right Behind You!

I like lounges that provide full meals if you’re hungry.

Male Airport Lounge
There Was a Selection of Hot and Cold Food

This lounge had pea and mint soup….

Male Airport Lounge
There Were Even Rolls to Go With Your Soup
…cashew nut rice and chicken pesto sauce…
Male Airport Lounge
The Chicken and Rice Was a Bit Bland
…pasta alfredo and grilled vegetables…
Male Airport Lounge
Fill Up on Pasta So You Aren’t Hungry on the Plane

I was looking forward to having some tea and snacks!

Male Airport Lounge
A Great Lounge for a Small Airport

There was salad…

Male Airport Lounge
The Salad Options Were a Bit Skimpy
…and bread and butter.
Male Airport Lounge
Have a Piece of Bread With Your Meal or Make a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

There were desserts to choose from…

Male Airport Lounge
Daraius & His Dad Spent Most of Their Time at This Table

Inside a case, there were to-go sandwiches, fruit salad, and doughnuts.

Male Airport Lounge
If You Don’t Have Much Time, You Can Grab a Snack to Take on the Plane

There was a large selection of beverages as well.

Male Airport Lounge
Grab a Cold Refreshment Before Your Flight

Or if you preferred, you could have coffee…

Male Airport Lounge
High-Tech Coffee Machine
…or tea.
Male Airport Lounge
The Maldives Is a Muslim Country and Alcohol Is Highly Restricted for Locals.  However, You Can Get Alcoholic Beverages in Most Resorts Areas.

How You Can Do It Too!

Our favorite way to get to the Maldives from the US is with American Airlines miles on Etihad or Qatar Air.

If you’re willing to book separate award tickets (i.e. 1 award ticket from the Maldives to Hong Kong & another from Hong Kong to the US), you could also fly on Cathay Pacific or Malaysia Air using American Airlines miles to the Maldives.  

Here are ways to get lots of American Airlines miles.  And here’s my series on using American Airlines miles.  It could also be worth using an award booking service to book the flights for you.

You can also use Alaska Airlines miles on Emirates or Cathay Pacific.  And folks say you can get the Alaska Airlines credit card multiple times.

We used United Airlines miles because we wanted to go to India first.  But folks who only want to fly from the US to the Maldives would likely use American Airlines miles or Alaska Airlines miles.

1.   Using American Airlines Miles

Link:   American Airlines Award Chart

A flight from the US to the Maldives costs:

  • 45,000 American Airlines miles 1-way in coach
  • 67,500 American Airlines miles 1-way in Business Class
  • 90,000 American Airlines miles 1-way in First Class

You can use American Airlines to fly many different ways to the Maldives, including on Etihad, Sri Lankan, Qatar, Cathay Pacific and Malaysia Airways.  If you want to book on Etihad, first find the available flights on the Etihad website and then call American Airlines to reserve the tickets.  See this step-by-step guide for more information.

2.   Using Alaska Airlines Miles

Link:   Alaska Airlines partner award chart to Middle East

From the US to the Maldives you’ll pay:

  • 42,500 Alaska Airlines miles 1-way in coach (Emirates)
  • 50,000 Alaska Airlines miles 1-way in coach (Cathay Pacific)
  • 62,500 Alaska Airlines miles 1-way in Business Class (Cathay Pacific)
  • 70,000 Alaska Airlines miles 1-way in First Class (Cathay Pacific)
  • 72,500 Alaska Airlines miles 1-way in Business Class (Emirates)
  • 90,000 Alaska Airlines miles 1-way in First Class (Emirates)
You can book Emirates flights on the Alaska Airlines website, except for Cathay Pacific, which has to be reserved by calling Alaska Airlines customer service.  See this post for more ways on using Alaska Airlines miles to get to the Maldives.

And folks say you can get the Alaska Airlines credit card multiple times.

3.   Using United Airlines Miles

Link:   United Airlines award chart

To fly from the US to India, you’ll pay:

  • 42,500 United Airlines miles 1-way in coach
  • 70,000+ United Airlines miles 1-way in Business Class
  • 140,000 United Airlines miles 1-way in First Class

Here’s a post on how to use United Airlines miles.

And here’s how you can get the airline miles and hotel points for your trip to the Maldives!

Bottom Line

The Plaza Premium Lounge at the Male airport was a very nice lounge to unwind in before the flight.  You can get free access by having a Business Class or First Class ticket on Etihad Airways airlines and many other airlines departing from Male.

You can also get free access if you have certain AMEX cards that are issued in Hong Kong.

If you’re flying coach you can access the lounge for ~$50 per day.

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