Redeeming Miles To The Maldives Just Got Easier!

At least if you’re trying to redeem American AAdvantage miles for travel on Etihad to the Maldives!


In the past I’ve written extensively about American’s AAdvantage award routing rules. On one hand American has among the most generous routing rules (you can exceed the MPM by 25%), while in other ways they have among the stingiest routing rules (with few exceptions you can’t transit a third region). In some ways they’re incredibly transparent (at least they publish rules, unlike some other carriers), in other ways they’re not (they require you to fly the most “direct” routing… except they don’t).

The most basic routing rules for redeeming American AAdvantage miles for longhaul travel are as follows:

  1. American will let you exceed the maximum permitted mileage (MPM) for a city pair by up to 25%, but simultaneously says that you have to take the most direct routing. In practice that means you can usually route creatively, and when you get an agent that insists on taking the most direct routing you just hang up and call again.
  2. The transoceanic airline you’re flying has to publish a fare between your origin and destination. In other words, if you want to fly from Los Angeles to New York on American and then New York to London to Rome on British Airways, British Airways would have to publish a fare between the origin and destination.
  3. With few exceptions, you can’t transit a third region on an award ticket. The Maldives is considered part of “the Middle East/Indian Subcontinent” on American’s award chart, so per the AAdvantage exception chart, the only region you can transit enroute to the Middle East is Europe.

Let’s talk specifically about the transoceanic airline having to publish a fare between the origin and destination.

Last October I wrote a post about redeeming American AAdvantage miles for travel to the Maldives, in which I included the following:

Many people consider Etihad Airways the best option for travel between the US and the Maldives, given that they offer a first class product on many of their US routes.

The challenge with booking an AAdvantage award for travel on Etihad to the Maldives involves rule #2  — the transoceanic airline you’re flying has to publish a fare between your origin and destination. And Etihad Airways doesn’t publish fares between most cities in North America and the Maldives.

You’d  think they’d publish fares on their own routes, but this is sadly not the case. While Etihad publishes fares between Chicago, New York, Toronto, and the Maldives, for some reason Los Angeles and Washington don’t have published fares to the Maldives. That means if you’re originating anywhere other than Chicago, New York, or Toronto, you’ll need to book this as two separate awards.

A one-way first class award between the US and Middle East/India usually costs 90,000 miles, though in this case you’d often have to book two separate awards. That 90,000 mile award would only get you from Chicago, New York, or Toronto, to the Maldives. But if you wanted to originate virtually anywhere else, you’d have to book it as a separate award.

Etihad first class cabin

Even though at the time Etihad had scheduled service planned to Los Angeles, you couldn’t fly Los Angeles to Abu Dhabi to Male on a single award, despite it being the most direct routing.

Anyway, it’s worth noting that Etihad seems to have filed a lot more fares between the US and Maldives, so it’s now possible to redeem AAdvantage miles for travel on Etihad from almost anywhere in the US to anywhere in the Maldives on a single AAdvantage award.

Just to show this graphically, fares are filed between Los Angeles and Male:


And they’re even filed between Tulsa and Male (and let’s be honest, if they’re filed out of Tulsa they should be filed out of everywhere):


I’m not sure how recent this change was, though it has certainly been within the past few months, as it’s the first time I’ve noticed this.


  1. Any update on whether any of the the non-Qatar middle eastern airlines (whichever of these two is bookable with AA miles…Etihad, Emirates) have been added to AA’s third region exemption list? Specifically for flights from US-Africa (via middle east) or Africa-Asia (via middle east)?

  2. How odd. I booked LAX-AUH-MLE using AA miles pretty much the day that the LAX-AUH flight was added to EY’s schedules and had no difficulty booking at 90,000 miles for F. Good to know that I shouldn’t run into any roadblocks if I try again in the future though.

  3. Do I need to call customer service to book these flights? I tried AA award website but always got error message.

  4. Booked NYC to Male thru Abu Dhabi over Thanksgiving in Etihad First class Suite. Many instagram pics to come 🙂

  5. side-tracking-question! Assuming you already arranged to flight part to the Maldives:

    What would be your best hotel-points redemption? (assume you have abundant points in any program!)
    I have plenty of points in HH, SPG, Hyatt, ClubCarlson and IHG and looked at the options available directly on their websites but wanted to hear your opinion!

    Thx 🙂

  6. @Lucky: in addition to the 25k/night, Park Hyatt ask for an additional $500+ Per person for round trip (flight+boat) from the maldives airport to the island.. Is there anyway to avoid/minimize that payment?

  7. @ Adam — Nope, virtually all hotels in the Maldives require a further transfer. You can use Barclaycard Arrival points to reimburse yourself for that cost, but that’s about it.

  8. Hi Lucky,

    I’m planning to redeem an award flight using AA miles from ICN to MLE with a stopover AUH in business C/J class. Is such booking possible on a single award ticket or do I need to book two separate (ICN to AUH, then AUH to MLE) award flight, as I believe AA doesn’t allow a stopover on a one way award flight?

    Many thanks!

  9. @ Lucky — thanks for the heads up! Confirmed they filed fares out of IAH/HOU as well — can get a round-trip in First starting at a low, low price of ~$24,500 USD.

  10. So there is sucess booking LAX-AUH-MLE on 1 award ticket? Do i just call AA and have the flights available and book the flights? Anyone not have success? Is it official that this is acceptable or do you have to get the right AA agent?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *