Maldives Luxury Vacation Part 4D – Review A340 Etihad Abu Dhabi to Male

Mention the Maldives and images of pristine turquoise blue waters come to mind. Overwater bungalows with direct jump-in access to the water and romantic sunsets are commonplace in this island paradise.

a palm tree on a beach

Lonely Palm Tree

While it’s on almost everyone’s wish list, getting there can be a challenge. Flights are often ridiculously expensive and once you DO get to the islands, a barrage of expensive hotels with overpriced meals await. Never mind the flight distance involved, those expensive factors are enough to turn some people off and have them looking for cheaper destinations.

Getting to paradise and back doesn’t have to cost a fortune. We booked a ridiculous, normally unattainable luxury vacation valued at almost $46,000 for a grand total of $1,818… for two people!

Considering that’s usually the price of a regular coach class ticket to the Maldives, that’s one heck of a steal.

In the series of posts to follow, we’re going to walk you through all the experiences that we enjoyed on this trip. While most people would consider this once-in-a-lifetime, with just a little legwork and dedication you can have a luxury getaway to make Instagram followers drool with envy.

How we booked the flight

This flight routinely sells for thousands of dollars. A quick search from London to Male on Etihad shows that you can get a flight from London to Abu Dhabi with a connection to Male for around $4,600. Ouch.

A much better way? How about 62,500 American Airlines miles and around $200 in taxes and fees? The flight from London to Abu Dhabi is the same price in miles as the full routing to Male. That’s because American Airlines considers the Maldives to be in the India/Middle East region, so the miles don’t increase. Bonus!

The best way to get a ton of American Airlines miles at sign up right now is with the Citibank American Airlines credit cards. You can find them here. Bonuses change all the time, but typically finding 50-60,000 at signup should be a breeze.

You can use Etihad’s website to search for availability. We wrote a comprehensive guide on booking Etihad flights with AA miles here. Read up and learn how to do it so you can take advantage of those flights too.

Almost missed the flight…

Etihad offers three flights a day from Abu Dhabi to Male, but be careful. Two of the flights are operated by only an A320 with substandard service and seats. Only one of the flights a day is operated by an A340 with a proper first class and service. Make sure to choose wisely!

When we left the lounge it was about a 7-8 minute walk to the gate where we would depart for our flight. Since we wanted the most about of time possible in the lounge we stayed perhaps a little longer than we should have and before we knew it we heard the infamous page…

“Flight 278 is in its final boarding process. Please we are looking for passengers……â€

So with that we double timed it to the gate, only to find that we were, indeed, the last two passengers for the trip. What does that mean? That we get the entire bus to ourselves 😉 Talk about a first class experience!

two men smiling at the camera

The entire Airport Bus for Us!

Random Coincidences

As we boarded the flight, it was very clear that we were the only two passengers for the flight seated in first class. The flight attendant came over to greet us and said “Hello Jon and Ben, I’d like to welcome you on board. I was speaking to my husband last night and he mentioned that you would be on my flight. My husband was your butler on your London to Abu Dhabi flight. He asked that I take very good care of you on this trip!â€

Wow – now THAT is a small world.

She had some champagne waiting for us, since that is what she heard that we liked to drink before take off. Along with that champagne was a warm towel, dates, and free wi-fi code.

a tray with food and glasses on it in a room with a television

Champagne Pre Take Off

The Seat

The A340 has a large, comfortable seat with doors that close to make it into a suite. There really is no more private way (unless you’re flying private, of course…) to get to the Maldives.

an airplane door with a light switch

A340 Suite Doors

a close up of a door

A340 Suite Doors

a seat in an airplane

A340 Seat Etihad

In the armrest between seats there is a remote control, USB port, universal charging port, headphone jack, HDMI plug, RCA AV jacks, and more. I mean, if you wanted to get connected, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to on this flight.

a device in a box

You can get plugged in!

There was also a selection of magazines to choose from.

a stack of books in a book holder

A340 Etihad Magazines

Controls for the seat are pretty intuitive, with an easy to read video screen showing what you’ll need to learn. We wouldn’t been sleeping on this short flight though – the views out the window would be too good!

a screen with a picture of furniture

A340 Seat Controls

Noise cancelling headphones were at the seat so we could watch a completely forgettable movie. The selection was fine, but we’d seen so many already that most were just re-runs for us.

a black bag with a logo on it

Noise Cancelling Headphones

a person's feet on a couch with a television

Totally Forgettable Movie

The same blanket that’s available on the A380 is also on the A340. It’s really warm, like, a LOT warm, so just be aware before you go wrapping yourself up. I do rather enjoy the fact that at 6-2 with my legs fully extended I still had room for days!

Each seat came preloaded with two bottles of water and some nuts for snacks. Since we were the only ones in the cabin I went to each one and stole the nut mix out of them. Hey, food is expensive in the Maldives, we’ve got to cut costs wherever we can!

a bottle and snack in a car

A340 Nuts and Water

Nestled in to the suite door was a place to hang your shirt or jacket

a door open to a room

Etihad’s Coat Closet

And right next to the door was also an individual reading light and, most importantly, an air vent.

a close up of a car door

SO IMPORTANT to have an and vent

Since we had the entire cabin to ourselves, Ben decided to do some situps in the aisle – got to keep fit y’all!

a man sitting in a chair

Gotta stay in shape!

The bathroom for the First Class cabin was quite spacious, with L’occitane en Provence amenities.

a man taking a selfie in a bathroom

A340 Bathroom

a sink and soap dish on a counter

A340 Bathroom

a man taking a selfie

A340 Bathroom

I stuck my head back into business class just to see how the seats were. Not bad, but way too crowded. First Class is the way to go!

a group of people in an airplane

A340 Business Class


Ahhhhh, the food. Arguably the best part of an Etihad flight. Catering is no joke on Etihad, and flying in First Class offers you the option to have some of the most amazing flavor combinations you’ll ever try on an airplane.

In our normal daily life we eat pretty simple foods, so when we have the change to “fancy it up” we never turn away. Every detail is meticulously cared for; from the placement of the silverware to the exact location of the bread plate, everything must be just perfect.

Appetizers? How about a pumpkin soup or multicolored beetroot salad? The soup was creamy and perfectly seasoned. Ben,. who loves beets, said that he hasn’t had anything this flavorful before.

a plate of soup and bread on a table

Pumpkin Soup Appetizer

a plate of food on a table

Etihad A340 Beetroot Salad Appetizer

We both agreed on the same entree, a Moroccan Spiced Lamb which was perfectly cooked, moist, tender, and just divine. I didn’t eat much of it, because I wanted to make sure to leave some room for dessert.

a plate of food on a table

Moroccan Spiced Lamb

a plate of food on a table

Lamb, Anyone?

a person holding a bottle of wine

A nice glass of wine with dinner? Yes please

And dessert… oh Etihad you know how to win me over. When given two choices between the fruit and cheese plate and a raspberry tart, I couldn’t decide. So, since it was just the two of us, I asked for both! Etihad was happy to oblige 🙂

a plate of food with fruit and a spoon

Dessert? Why not everything?

And just about 30-40 minutes before landing, a lovely espresso late and chocolates.

a tray with a cup of coffee and a small box on it

Latte and Chocolates as a finisher

Before you knew it, the 3 hour and 30 minute flight was ending and we were already in descent. The views from the plane are one of a kind. You really get to see how amazing the Maldives are. Thousands of tiny islands all forming into atolls made into the country itself.

an airplane window with a view of the ocean and land

Islands of the Maldives

an airplane window with a view of the ocean and islands

Islands of the Maldives

an aerial view of islands in the ocean

Islands of the Maldives

Final Parting Gift

We had a fantastic flight and could not have asked for anything more. We did mention that we know it was going to be expensive on the islands to get food, so if there was anything extra they had left over that they could give to us, we’d appreciate it. 

Now, I didn’t expect of want another portion of the lamb or beets (as that would just be strange…) but anything like nuts or dried fruit would give us some snacks to munch on while at the resorts. You know food is going to be expensive on the islands.

They came back with about 2 pounds of mixed nuts, some left over dried fruit, and tons of bottled water. That would be exactly what we needed to save a bunch on the island!

Have you visited the Maldives? How did you fly there? Let us know your favorite routing below!



Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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  1. “We did mention that we know it was going to be expensive on the islands to get food, so if there was anything extra they had left over that they could give to us, we’d appreciate it. “

    “Help me I’m poor”

    Wow, great way to maintain that fc image! I’m sure the crew talked about you like dogs on the way back!

    Post a Reply
    • Awww Mikey – I almost didn’t approve this comment, but then I realized that even complete fools need some sunlight shone on them. There’s nothing wrong with saving money, but if you have cash to blow, congrats!

      Post a Reply
  2. Great review! How is the general award availability for First Class on Etihad? It seems very reasonable so why was the First Class empty? Was it because the flight was short? How many seats were there in First Class and how many were available for points booking?

    Post a Reply
    • I think most people who redeem use AA miles, and they want the long haul to Sydney or from NYC – plenty of people forget about LHR-AUH. We’ve done it twice now, and can’t wait for the next time 😉 We wrote about the wide open availability a couple of months back.

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  3. You’re lucky that you got F to MLE- I’m in the middle of booking a Maldives trip for April, and EY is only flying two flights a day at that time. One’s an A320 and the other is an A332 without an F cabin. And looks like they’re only flying A320s at the moment.

    We’re flying Qatar on the inbound and have 14.5 hours in the Apartments on the way back so I don’t have much to complain about, but some F over J for no extra cost on that MLE-AUH leg would have been nice!

    Looking forward to the rest of the series!

    Post a Reply
    • They were flying three at the time when we went, two A320 and an A340. Still, the A332 is better than the A320!

      Post a Reply
  4. What was the date of your trip? I thought Etihad retired the last of their A340s in 2017. I do know they operate A333s with six closed F suites.

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