The Best Airlines To Fly Into The Maldives


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The Maldives is certainly a bucket list travel destination and that can be a trip of a lifetime. Think picturesque white sand beaches, total remoteness, and every water activity you can image.

The Maldives is the beach destination for the luxury travel and its no wonder why it continues to attract travelers from all over.

Even though the country is divided into several remote islands, its tourism popularity makes many airlines and destinations operating some of the best airplane seats money can buy.

Many folks save up cash or even stash away points for a special occasion trip to the Maldives. I know I was certainly planning on it after my wedding but ended up going to Bodrum, Turkey instead.

If you are planning a trip to the Maldives, we will break down the best airlines to fly.

Airports Near The Maldives

The Maldives is made up of many small islands but if you are traveling into the islands you will be landing in Male.

AirportTaxi To CenterEst Taxi Price
Male (MLE)15 min$20

Male airport is a small island airport but still serves all major international carriers. If you are landing here you can take a 15 minute taxi to the city center but most travelers will be going onward to their resort directly from the airport.

Male airport has several arrivals lounges and you can expect to need to wait a bit before your scheduled transfer. Many luxury hotels have their own private waiting terminals within the airport, making it more comfortable for those staying at certain hotels.

When you plan to depart the Maldives, you will also need to make your way back to MLE. Note, the weather can be a bit unpredictable and effect your flight so be sure to keep checking the status as your trip gets close to departure or arrival.

Airlines Flying To Maldives

If you are departing from the US, there are no options if you want to fly direct to the Maldvies. However, several airlines offer service with one stop and these includes major global carriers like Turkish Airlines, Emirates, Etihad, Qatar, Air India, and many more.

Given you will be required to connect you also have several options from major US cities including New York, Boston, Chicago, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Houston, Miami, and San Francisco.

When you depart from the US you will want to take account your first leg aircraft, whether you are going via London, Istanbul, or even Dubai. We take this into account when departing from the US to break down the best option in each class.

Airfare to the Maldives

Ticket prices to the Maldives are almost always expensive but can vary depending on the season. Since most travelers only find it worth it to go when its not the rainy season, you can expect to pay at least $900 – $1,400 in economy but this can certainly be higher around holidays. We like using Skyscanner to find the best deal and their compare page makes it easy.

Here is a breakdown of average round trip prices by month.

Skyscanner Male Flights by Month

There is also a tool that can run a compare of various cities if you have set dates or months in mind. All you need to do is enter a timeframe for departure and Skyscanner does the rest.

Skyscanner Cheapest Flights to Male

You can find all Skyscanner tools on this page here and utilize this info to find the best flight deal.

Best First Class

It feels like barely any airlines offer First Class anymore but on this route you have some of the best seats money can buy. Luckily since so many airlines offer services to Male, you will have several first class options.

We will tell you what to expect in each and also what airline we prefer to fly.

1. Emirates First Class Airbus A380

When it comes to first-class travel, you can’t go wrong with Emirates’ Airbus A380. The luxury airline really stands out in their first-class cabins, offering private suites, in seat bar, and an exclusive pass to the legendary onboard shower. Emirates offers plenty of routes from US cities via Dubai and operates one of the worlds largest networks. A huge plus to this seat is its offering via Air Canada Aeroplan miles that can be booked for about 175,000 points each way. There really are very few first class experiences like Emirates A380 still flying so if you get the chance to book it on this route you won’t be disappointed.

2. Etihad First Class Boeing 787

Etihad First Class is truly one of the most spacious airline seats in the sky. Dubbed “The Apartment” the each passenger will receive a private suite, love seat couch, large screen TV, and the most personalized service. It’s really hard to beat the amount of luxury and space you will receive that is more akin to flying private than commercial. The reason we don’t rank this as number 1 is because of the lack of availability and the difficulty to book. This seat only appears on Etihad A380 and they are inconsistent when they offer it. However, if you are able to snag a business class seat you can upgrade to this for about $1,800 one way that while steep will be worth the experience.

3. British Airways First Class Boeing 787-9

First class is not as common these days but British Airways first class on the 787-9 is easily the best way to fly between the US to London and onwards to The Maldives. Onboard you can expect a spacious and private suite as well as top notch food and of course great champagne. Another benefit is dedicated check in areas as well as access to the iconic Concorde Room for when you are laying over in London.

Best Business Class

Not all business class are made equal so if you are willing to pay a premium for comfort (or shell out some points) we’ll tell you what option would be best. Given the premium that comes with first class, business class cabins on this route can be almost as luxurious as first and easily stand above many other business class offerings around the world.

1. Qatar A350 Q-Suite Business Class

Qatar Airways changed the game when they released their Q Suite business class and it’s easily the best offering on this route to the Maldives via Doha. The seats are private suites that can be combined with your partner next to you or even expanded into a 4 person quad pod. It’s hard to beat the amount of privacy and personalized service offered by Qatar Airways. What we like most about Qatar is if you are able to find saver award fare then this route will only cost you 80,000 points one way. For an experience like this that is a steal but make sure you plan to book well in advance as availability is often hard to find.

2. Etihad A350 Business Class

When it comes to business class, this is where Etihad has a leg up on Emirates. The carrier released an all new business class offering in a 1-2-1 configuration. We were able to fly this route on Etihad from New York to Abu Dhabi and it was one of the best flight experiences we had. Each suite has a private door and aisle access, something missing on Emirates that lacks privacy. We also like that this route is bookable via Air Canada Aeroplan and for about 120,000 points each way. Etihad still operates a few different planes on this route but even their old business class on the 787 is worth it as the best on this route.

3. Turkish Airlines 787-9

Turkish Airlines 787-9 features it’s newest seats configured in a 1-2-1 format. This is by far the most private business class seat you will see on Turkish Airline and tends to mimic the feeling of United Polaris 787. The only down side of this configuration is Turkish only flies it on select routes. If you are planning to head to the Maldives via Istanbul from New York you will need to look closely at the aircraft or you will be on the A330 we’ve tried many times.

4. Emirates A380 Business Class

Emirates went through an entire business cabin style refresh and we’re really liking their new sleek interior. While the business class seat arrangement is still in a 2-3-2, you may end up getting stuck in a middle seat that is very unfortunate in business class. Still the Emirates offering is well above most carries with excellent food and even an onboard bar to stretch your legs at. We like that this route is bookable via Air Canada Aeroplan making it more accessible and with arrival access to the business class lounge in Dubai isn’t a bad way to make the journey.

Best Economy Class

There usually isn’t a major difference in economy class hard product but there may be items some airlines do better than others. However, on long haul routes to the Maldives, many airlines offer Premium Economy, which is certainly a step above a standard seat. While many premium economy seats are similar, we especially like those offering comfortable seats and reasonable food to make us pick one over the other.

1. Emirates Premium Economy

In their cabin refresh, Emirates also updated their Premium Economy to appear very similar to a business class just without the full bed. The premium economy experience has each seat in a 2-3-2 format and offering extra recline making it more comfortable than standard economy. What you really get in this part of the plane is a food service similar to business without the full bed. On the plus side the upgrade from economy to premium economy is only a few $100 and in our opinion is totally worth it for overnight flights to the Maldives.

2. Etihad Premium Economy

Etihad has a very similar premium economy offering to Emirates although not as up to date in our opinion. You can expect a larger seat in a 2-3-2 layout but the seats will be very close together. The food offering is also upgraded and you will certainly have better service with such a small cabin. We don’t find availability on this cabin often but it certainly beats a standard economy seat.

3. Emirates Airlines Economy

In Emirates Airlines economy you can expect a layout of 3-3-3 and a very newly designed cabin. The main difference you will see on Emirates is the level of service that you won’t find as good on any other airline. There are also several routes via Dubai daily that can ensure there is a time that fits your schedule.

4. Etihad Economy Class

Etihad prides itself on a very comfortable economy cabin that has seats on par with other top tier airlines. Each seat has a large IFE and large headwrests making it easier to sleep in this seat. While most standard economy seats are the same across many airlines, we liked the service we have received each time on Etihad as well as it having some of the best food in the sky.

Award Flights to Maldives

Airline miles and credit card points are some of the best way to get a cheap if not entirely free ticket to the Maldives. If you are unfamiliar with this process read our guide on credit card points and miles.

The fastest way to get airline miles and also the biggest benefit to credit card points is the ability to transfer them to airline partners. If you are looking to increase your balance for a flight to the Maldives see the latest offers in our guide to the best credit cards for every traveler.

A flight to the Maldives is one of the holy grails of award travel and given the amount of airline options there are several award partners to consider:

  • Air Canada Aeroplan: Booking options on Emirates and Etihad. Points can be transferred from Chase, American Express, and Capital One.
  • Etihad Miles: Booking options on Etihad. Points can be transferred from American Express, Capital One, and Citi.
  • Emirates Miles: Booking options on Emirates and United. Points can be transferred from Chase, American Express, Capital One, and Citi.
  • Qatar Airlines Avios: Booking options on Qatar and British Airlines. Points can be transferred from American Express, Chase, and Capital One.

While there are many more programs that offer points bookings to the Maldives, the above programs typically are the easiest and cheapest way to book.

Summary & Takeaways

There are so many options you can take to the Maldives that most of it will come down to flight time, price, and layover. We highly recommend leaning on the Middle East carriers like Emirates and Qatar that will provide the most availability and some of the best experience.

Given the Maldives popularity, you have plenty of options on this route and if you go premium certainly won’t be let down.

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