Sunday, January 13, 2013

Spending Christmas and New Year in Paradise: Introduction


We didn't have anything initially actually planned for Christmas/New Year break. Work commitments were unpredictable and if all hell broke loose at work, I might actually have to work over Christmas and New Year. Thankfully two weeks before Christmas, work began to slow down and I was actually able to take a nice 2 week break to finish of the year.

At this point our options were severely limited. There were no cheap flights to anywhere except for a UA/AA first class to Tokyo for ~$3k price war that I did briefly consider but ultimately was above our budget and we had enough of cold weather. We were only looking at first class redemptions (business class just wasn't cutting it anymore after the Dublin trip) on Star Alliance and as expected by this time, it was almost impossible to find one seat, much less two seats that we needed.  On the flipside, the good thing about booking last minute was first class Lufthansa availability which only opens up around 2 weeks prior to departure.

We were also picky on where we wanted to go. Most of the time, we would just head to where the cheap flights and miles would take us but we had enough of the cold weather in Austin and spending a week in even colder weather in Europe or North Asia just did not sound appealing. We needed some hot weather with a cold beer with sand between our toes. Heading to a beach back home in South East Asia didn't sound too exciting either and I couldn't find any reasonable options for other beach destinations like Bora Bora or Seychelles. We also skipped all the close by options to Austin like the Carribean or Mexico as by this time tickets were really expensive.

By some pure miracle, I was able to find us an option to head to one of our favorite places on Earth, the Maldives for some beach R&R:  
  • I redeemed a straight forward Lifemiles redemption on their website for a Orlando to Osaka via Frankfurt on Lufthansa first class. We miss the First Class Terminal and we would be able to try the seat + bed combo on the 747 operated on the Osaka flight.
  • From Osaka, I redeemed a United MileagePlus business class redemption to Maldives via Bangkok and Singapore on Thai and Singapore Airlines.
  • Heading home to the US, we paid for one of those infamous "cheap" ex-Colombo first class fare on Emirates and British Airways via Dubai with a night layover to explore Paris before flying back to London and Houston where we would drive back on a one way car rental back to Austin.
  • My only slight disappointment on this trip was the need to redeem a 25k coach United MileagePlus ticket from Austin to Orlando per person. This was double the "normal rate" but tickets were going for $600-700 per person. Ouch!
We had actually been to Maldives twice before (first for our honeymoon and a second honeymoon on a mistake Emirates fare) and told ourselves that we would only head back to the Maldives if we could stay in a high end hotel. next time we would be back, we would stay in a high end hotel instead. Lydia was jumping up and down in excitement when I told her I managed to get Hilton Honors redemption for 6 nights at the Conrad. The 6 nights costs us 225k or 37.5k a night thanks to AXON which was a steal considering even the cheapest room were going for about $2500USD by now!


  1. Looks amazing!!! Can't wait to hear about your amazing adventure! We hope to make it to the Maldives...some day..hehe

  2. Great trip guys! You have even got me thinking of this trip in the future :)
    Can I ask how you managed to get two star alliance business awards from SIN to MLE? Thought that they only release one C class ticket on each flight? Looking forward to the rest of your trip.

    1. No, they do release 2 seats. I was surprised myself that availability was still there considering how late I booked it. The flight itself was pretty empty so not too surprising.