Welcome to my first trip report! I (First Class Giraffe) may have graduated college in the distant past, but I’m still entitled to a “Spring Break.” This report is a detailed overview of my trip to the Maldives and Tokyo. I’m excited to review Qatar Airways Qsuite business class and Japan Airlines First Class.
I’ll also be reviewing my Cathay Pacific business class flights from Male to Hong Kong and on to Tokyo, and my stays at the Mandarin Oriental Washington DC, the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island and Conrad Tokyo.
Planning the Trip
The Maldives is on a lot of peoples travel list due to the the secluded white sand beaches and crystal clear water, but many think it’s strictly a honeymoon destination and a cost prohibitive one at that. I’d like to challenge that assumption in this article. This trip was booked almost exclusively using miles and points.
I’ve been dying to try Qatar Airlines new Qsuite product since it launched back in June 2017. Qatar currently has an evening direct flight from JFK-DOH on the Airbus A350-1000, which features the Qsuite product, but award space is hard to come by on this route. I found open award seats leaving from Washington Dulles as it seems award space is more readily available on this route.
I’m positioning to Washington DC on Wednesday night, spending 1 night/1day in the city staying at the Mandarin Oriental and then continuing onto the Maldives.
I redeemed 63,000 American AAdvantage miles (70K miles with 10% rebate from by Barclay Aviator card) to fly first class from JFK-DCA on American 4454, business class IAD-DOH on Qatar 708 and business class DOH-MLE on Qatar 676.
Once I get to Malé International Airport I’ll have to transfer to the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island on Hulhule Island by a 30-minute seaplane ride, which is $590 roundtrip per-person and unfortunately you can’t use miles and points for this flight.
To get from Malé to Tokyo I booked a paid business class ticket MLE-HKG on Cathay Pacific 602 and then HKG-NRT on Cathay Pacific 504. The premium for business class over economy was only a few hundred dollars, which I think is worth it given it’s an overnight flight. I used my Chase Sapphire Reserve $300 travel credit to partially offset the cost.
On the return I booked a first class ticket on Japan Airlines 4 NRT-JFK using 72,500 American AAdvantage miles.
Since I’ll be flying on a Oneworld business class flight on Thursday I’m entitled to visit the American Flagship Lounge at JFK on Wednesday night.
Thursday evening I’ll head to Washington Dulles for my flight to Doha. Qatar doesn’t have a dedicated lounge at Washington Dulles so they use the Turkish Airlines Lounge. This will be my first visit to the lounge, but from the pictures I’ve seen it looks like a nice place to kill a few hours.
Upon arrival in Doha I’m entitled to visit the Qatar Airway’s Al Mourjan Lounge. I’ve read reports that you can purchase access to the Qatar Airways’ Al Safwa First Class Lounge on arrival so I’ll report on whether this still holds true.
The Conrad Maldives has their own arrivals lounge at Malé International Airport, which I’m excited to review. It will be a nice way to relax ahead of the seaplane ride.
En route to Tokyo I’ll have the opportunity to visit The Leeli Lounge in Malé, but I’m not expecting very much based on other reviews. Once in Hong Kong I only have an hour before my flight to Tokyo so I’m not sure I’ll have time to access Cathay’s numerous business class lounges.
On the way home I’ll be visiting the JAL First Class Lounge at Tokyo Narita. This will be my second visit there and form what I remember it was excellent.
In Washington DC I’ll be staying at the Mandarin Oriental, which is placed along the Southwest Waterfront. I’ve stayed there in the past, but this is the first time I’ll have access to their Club Lounge, which I’ll be reviewing in detail.
In the Maldives I booked 4-nights in a Water Villa at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island using 285,000 Hilton Honors points and a free night certificate. My Hilton Aspire card came with the free night certificate and 150,000 of those points. I contacted the hotel ahead of time inquiring about upgrades and was able to upgrade to a superior water villa at a reasonable rate. The room retails for well over $1,000 per night so this was an excellent redemption value.
In Tokyo I booked 3-nights at the Conrad Tokyo at an attractive rate. The hotel can be quite expensive otherwise and is over $700 per night during my stay.