The Maldives has long been one of the top bucket list island destinations, attracting visitors from around the world to its white sand beaches, dazzling blue waters and luxury resorts.
Typically, the Maldives has been more of a European getaway because flights from the U.S. are both long and expensive. However, new Swiss Airlines deals from the U.S. may be enough to inspire you to make the trip to this remote island chain in the Indian Ocean.
Swiss Airlines is currently offering selected round-trip flights at prices beginning at $642 from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Velana International Airport (MLE) in the Maldives. Typical prices on this route normally cost double or triple this price. Current fares from other U.S. airports to the Maldives cost around $900 or less.
However, be mindful of layover times in Europe on these discounted tickets; some of the itineraries have extended or multiple stops on at least one-way of the journey.
If you can find an itinerary and timing that work for you on these Swiss Airlines flights, now might be a great time to book that long-dreamed trip to the Maldives.
For fare details and a few sample itineraries, read on.
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A beautiful island in the Maldives. (Photo by Ibrahim Asad/Getty Images)
Airlines: Swiss Airlines and partners.
Routes: New York City and LA to the Maldives.
How to book: Google Flights, or directly through Swiss Airlines or United.
Travel dates: Selected dates from October through January.
Book by: While discounted tickets are available.
Related: The best ways to get to the Maldives on points and miles
Below are a couple of super-discounted flight options from the U.S. to the Maldives (and back) for less than $700 using Swiss Airlines as the main carrier.
Be sure to check layover and travel times for these and similar itineraries, because some of the options can involve stopovers of more than 18 hours. If you go with the flight option below, this might be enough time for you to get out and enjoy a day tour in Zurich while you’re passing through, so keep the itineraries under consideration if the cost savings is compelling for you.
We found these sample itineraries on Google Flights, using its monthly flight grid search option. To find similar itineraries, enter your departure city (even if it isn’t JFK or LAX) to MLE and see what the offering might be for a given month or two. Experiment with alternate airports and changes to flight legs, and you may find a price and itinerary that’s perfect for you.
From New York
This sample flight on Swiss Airlines from New York’s JFK to the Maldives in October is priced at a very low $675. Flights on this route on other dates typically run in the $1,100 range, with some fares in December topping $2,000. The flight involves a single stopover in Zurich. Plus, the fare includes a free carry-on bag and checked bag, so no worries about hidden luggage charges here.
Again, keep in mind this flight, and other similarly discounted flights, may have extended layovers as part of the itinerary. Google Flights will note above-average layover times with a little red warning triangle in the stopover field. In the example above, Google Flights has flagged the more than 15-hour stopover in Zurich on the return flight.
Sometimes you can make long layovers work well for your trip, adding in some airport rest time or even an excursion into town if you time everything right (and don’t have to deal with carrying excessive luggage with you). Be sure to note, though, whether your extended layover is during the day or night. Wandering the streets of Zurich from 2 to 5 a.m. isn’t going to have the same appeal as daytime sightseeing excursions.
On sample itineraries TPG researched for this fare, the layovers are typically shorter on the outbound leg (as short as 2 hours) and longer (sometimes more than 18 hours) for the return. Avoid flights with more than one stopover because this greatly increases your chance of missed flights, cancellations and lost luggage.
With a little research and flexibility on dates, you may be able to find one of these dramatically discounted fares that work with your timing and schedule.
Related: These are the best times to visit the Maldives
Flights from LA to the Maldives, routed through Europe on Swiss Airlines, are surprisingly even cheaper than flights from the East Coast. The $642 sample fare above has a relatively short stopover in Zurich on the outbound flight but a burdensome 18-hour layover on the return trip. Depending on timing, as noted above, you can potentially make the Zurich layover work for you with a sightseeing excursion in the city.
The $642 fare is nearly half-off typical fares from the West Coast to the Maldives — $2,000 fares are common in December. The sub-$700 or sub-$800 flights are operated by Swiss Airlines on select dates from October through January 2023. You can also book directly through United.
If you can find dates that work for the flights (and can secure affordable lodging in the Maldives), then this fare offers a great deal to get to the Maldives from LA.
Maximize your purchase
Don’t forget to use a card that earns bonus points on airfare purchases — as well as for paying for the often sky-high resort rates once you arrive in the Maldives.
The Platinum Card® from American Express earns 5 points per dollar spent on airfare booked directly with the airline or through American Express Travel for up to $500,000 of these purchases per calendar year.
The Citi Premier® Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve earn 3 points per dollar spent on airfare, while the American Express® Gold Card earns 3 points per dollar spent on airfare when booked directly with the airline or through Amex Travel. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card earns 2 points per dollar spent on travel. Read this post for more on maximizing airfare purchases.
The Maldives has earned its reputation as a bucket list destination for those seeking the ultimate tropical island paradise. The challenge for U.S. travelers has always been the price and timing required to get there.
These discounted airfares from Swiss Airlines are great deals as far as the price part of the equation goes; the less than $700 fares are nearly half off of typical flight costs.
The challenge that remains for passengers searching for these flight deals is to find a specific itinerary with reasonable layover times to make the trip out there worthwhile.
If you’re willing to be a little flexible on at least one of the flight legs, then you’ll be able to take advantage of this very affordable offer.
Featured photo courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Maldives.