How I booked my Free honeymoon: NYC to Maldives & Vietnam & Singapore for 120k United miles for Business Class


I recently booked my flights for my free honeymoon to the Maldives in business class for 120k miles round trip.  I also included a couple destinations for the same price using United miles (Hanoi Vietnam, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, and finally the Maldives).  United is raising their award rates starting 2/1/14 as I wrote about it here so if you are interested in doing something like this, you don’t have much time.  After all the months of researching, I am excited to have finally booked this!

My Itinerary (the cash price is approximately $10,000 per person or 120k United miles)

1)  JFK to Hanoi Vietnam (with a layover in Taipei (TPE)) on EVA Airways.  I stop here for 2 weeks.
2) Singapore (SIN) to Male (MLE) on Singapore Airlines
3) Return flight is Male (MLE) to Newark Airport (EWR) stopping in Istanbul Turkey (IST) and Montreal, Canada (YUL)

4) Since I have 2 weeks after landing in Vietnam, I plan to take a cheap flight (under $100 per person) to Kuala Lumpur for about a week and then head to Singapore for a few days before catching the flight to Male.

All in business class for a total of 120k miles round trip plus $356 per person.  This map shows the itinerary except the part from Vietnam to Kuala Lumpur then to Singapore is not part of the United Award booking and I will need to book this separately.


What I tried

I booked the Conrad Maldives before Hilton devalued their points and therefore have been trying to figure out all the different ways I can get there using miles.   Since I booked it so far ahead of time I had to wait until United started selling tickets for the Thanksgiving time frame.  There are 2 main ways to get there using StarAlliance 1) through Istanbul and 2) through Singapore.  Booking through Singapore is a bit more expensive because Singapore Airlines charges some fuel surcharges (it was about $356 vs $150 going through Istanbul).

  • The fastest and most convenient way I could find:  NYC to Male stopping in Istanbul.  But it seems very difficult to find availability with Star Alliance for a direct business award seat NYC to Istanbul. They are more available from IAD (Washington DC), Boston, Montreal, and Ottowa and I was considering that route in order to get a good lay flat business class seat.
  • NYC to somewhere in Europe (Lisbon, Frankfurt, Munich, Dublin, Geneva, Milan) to Istanbul to Male.  Some of these options were ok, but many of them do not offer full lie flat business class seats and then I don’t see the point of spending all those points.  I found a good option NYC – Milan – Istanbul – Male but it got sold before I could grab it.  Eventually the flight I found from Istanbul to Male sold forcing me to consider another route.
  • I tried to take thepointsguys’s advice and fly NYC – TPE – SIN – MLE — essentially the route I eventually booked but I called United twice to do a test booking and they kept telling me that the routing is not allowed and that I could not combine Singapore Airlines with the others.  On the third attempt I got a rep who said the system wouldnt allow it but he asked his supervisor and when he came back he said it was not a problem.  I wasnt ready to book so I had to finalize the flights I wanted then call back and go through the same trouble.


Other links and useful posts:

Many sites have been writing about how to get to the Maldives – here are the ones I referenced to help me figure out the best way to get there:

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  1. Just found your blog and I love it! I became a subscriber now and bookmarked your blog for my daily reading. This is a great post and congrats on your honeymoon!
    I am new in miles and points so hope you can help me to better understand. I have some questions:
    1. If I got it correctly, your outbound is JFK – Taipei(layover/connecting flight) – Hanoi (free stopover) – Singapore (free stopover) – Male (final destination)?
    or is it JFK as the departure city and Singapore as final destination? and you have to book a separate one-way flight from Singapore to Male? Can you please tell how much miles that you used for this? I know that total round trip is 120,000 miles but I am interested on the breakdown of each segment.

    2. The inbound flight would be Male – Istanbul (free stopover) – Montreal (free stopover) – Newark (final destination)? Is it possible to have 2 free stopovers with SQ? and how much mileage do you use for this segment?

    3. For the total of 120,000 miles, what program did you use? like for example, you used UR points or ThankYou Points or Membership Reward points and then transferred it to KrisFlyer? or do you used United Mileage and then transfer it to KrisFlyer?

    4. Did you have to call Singapore Airlines to book this itinerary or you did it online? Is there any charge or booking fee to book via phone ?

    • Hey John,

      1) This is 1 round trip booking for 120k miles per person. Hanoi is the free stopover. The part you are missing is the flight from Singapore is the open jaw. Normally you depart from the same airport arrive to. I arrive at Hanoi and depart from Singapore, so I have to find some way to get from Hanoi to Singapore. Why did I choose Hanoi? Before I booked it, I found that Hanoi has many cheap flight options. I plan to book a flight from Hanoi to Kuala Lumpur for about $100 per person. From Kuala Lumpur, I will take a bus or train to Singapore as it should only be a few hours.

      2) For the return flight, there is no “stops”, these are just connections. I was allowed 1 free stopover and I used that in Hanoi.

      3) I used 120,000 United Miles per person. In total 240,000 United Miles for both of us. 100% was done with United miles. No transferring.

      4) Everything was booked over the phone with United agents. This was tricky. Online is impossible because Singapore does not when you search on If you route through Turkey both ways, you can book everything online. I was going to do that but I waited too long and the seat disappeared. If you find the seats you want, BOOK QUICKLY. When I called United to look for availability, the agents told me they cannot book the Singapore leg. One agent put me on hold and checked with the supervisor and said she was able to book it. When I called back, the agent again said it was not possible so I asked her to check with her supervisor. The agent came back and booked it for me. The only downside is the taxes and fees came to $356.90 per person.

      Hope that helps! If not let me know and I will be happy to explain more.

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