‘Luxury leisure’: Startup airline Beond to launch Maldives flights with all lie-flat seating

A new airline plans to launch operations to a top vacation destination next month aboard aircraft with all premium seating.

Startup carrier Beond (pronounced “beyond”) plans to fly customers to the Maldives on narrow-body planes filled with lie-flat seats.

With just a single aircraft and three routes to start, company leaders hope to rapidly expand the carrier’s fleet and reach in the coming months.

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Beond unveiled its inaugural aircraft at dual launch events on Wednesday in Dubai and at its operating base of Male’s Velana International Airport (MLE) in the Maldives.

Starting with just a single Airbus A319 aircraft, Beond will seat 44 passengers in entirely premium-style accommodations. By the end of the year, the airline hopes to add an Airbus A321 to its fleet, with more long-range A321 deliveries expected beginning in the spring of 2024.

Beond’s founder and CEO Tero Taskila dubs the airline the world’s first “luxury leisure” carrier.

“It’s targeting people who are seeking luxury experiences in travel,” Taskila said at a news conference in Dubai on Wednesday. “We have, really, a niche where the product has been designed with the luxury, leisure traveler in mind.”

beond aircraft

Routes planned to and from the Maldives

Beond will initially fly three routes between Male and:

  • Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (launches Nov. 9)
  • Munich (launches Nov. 15)
  • Zurich (launches Nov. 17)

Additionally, the airline plans to launch new routes to Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC) in Dubai and Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP) beginning in late March.

Taskila set an ambitious target for Beond’s next few years, too, pledging to grow the carrier’s fleet to 32 aircraft and 60-plus destinations out of the Maldives over the next five years.

Abu Dhabi International Airport

The company is not revealing much else about its future potential routes, and it’s unclear whether it might someday serve the U.S.

Certainly, though, there are distance limitations to its fleet. Beond’s aircraft — all in the single-aisle, A320 family — will have to make short refueling stops in Dubai on certain European routes. This might slightly dampen the airline’s appeal of serving the Maldives directly.

Asked about any plans to attract U.S. travelers or serve North America in the future, a Beond spokesperson told TPG that Male is just the carrier’s first planned hub and that others are planned for the future.

Beond’s service


The idea behind Beond is that you get a premium experience no matter your seat, not to mention a direct (though not necessarily nonstop on all routes) connection to a bucket-list vacation destination for many.

Beond will offer limousine service for travelers from their homes to the airport (included with all fares except lower-level tickets).

On board, the aircraft is designed entirely in a 2-2 configuration. The seats — each of which has lie-flat capability — are designed by boutique Italian company Optimares; the company’s seats are also found on Four Seasons’ private aircraft.

Beond pushes away from using the term “all-business class.” It instead insists that it’s a leisure airline, not an airline meant for business travelers.

beond interior

The plane’s small number of seats is striking. An A319 aircraft typically has a maximum capacity of 156 passengers, depending on how the airline configures the jet. Beond’s A319 has just 44 seats.

Its A321 will seat 68 customers, compared with a maximum of around 200 on the jet for typical commercial service.

Along with offering tailored entertainment (including Apple iPads and wireless headphones for each customer) and high-end meal options, Beond plans to partner with Maldives resorts to ease the transfer process; many hotels there are generally only reachable by speedboat or seaplane.

beond interior

The aircraft’s livery, unveiled Wednesday in Male, is a graphite gray color. The airline made a point to note that it is not too dark to cause any overheating issues, a problem that can stem from aircraft paint that’s too dark. (This was a key reason why an Air Force One redesign by former President Donald Trump fell through.)

beond flight attendants

One amenity the airline will notably not have on board? Inflight Wi-Fi. But, Taskila said, that’s by design.

“The customer surveys say you go to the Maldives to detox,” he said. “They want to escape that hustle and bustle and being connected all the time.”

Booking a trip on Beond

Beond says its service will start at roughly $1,500 each way.

We found some initial itineraries for slightly less than that, including this January round-trip journey between Munich and Male for $2,883.

beond booking

Once you input your dates, you’ll have to choose between three fare types. “Delight” is the lowest level and includes a checked bag but does not include seat selection; seat selection starts at around $25 each way for this trip.

Beond seat selection

For around $300 more, a “Bliss” fare includes a complimentary limo ride to the airport, seat selection and lounge access.

Another $300 or so gets you an “Opulence” ticket, giving you added ticket change flexibility.

All passengers also get Fast Track security, and Taskila said the airline will arrange to have your bags transferred right to your hotel.

In checking out, Munich customers can see a brief refueling stop is noted on the itinerary, planned for Dubai. Beond said passengers won’t deplane during the stop, and no other passengers will be allowed to board during the stop.

Is flying Beond worth it?

On top of all-premium seating, Beond’s biggest appeal to travelers has to be the direct access to Male, eliminating the need for a layover (even if your flight does have to make a refueling stop).

Still, Beond seems to be banking that even a brief stop on the ground will be more convenient than making a connection, as 90% of passengers traveling to the Maldives currently do, according to Taskila.

Generally, travelers have to stop at hubs like Dubai International Airport (DXB) when flying on Emirates, Doha’s Hamad International Airport (DOH) for Qatar, Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) for Etihad or elsewhere in the region.

Notably, Beond does not plan to offer any sort of frequent flyer program for travelers, Taskila said, eliminating the possibility of redeeming points or miles for a flight aboard the premium carrier.

Meanwhile, U.S. travelers wanting to experience the airline’s service for the foreseeable future would have to book a flight to a city like Zurich or Munich.

If you can find an ultra-cheap coach ticket to one of those cities and score Beond fares on the lower end of its spectrum, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that you could cobble together a workable split itinerary without breaking the bank.

It’s common to find business-class tickets from New York to Male (with one or two stops along the way) for between $3,000 and $4,000.

If you do opt for a split itinerary, just be sure to give yourself plenty of time between your flights.

Hilton Maldives Amingiri Origin

Bottom line

Beond has ambitious plans as it seeks to become the world’s first all-premium leisure airline. It has an ultra-small fleet and route map to start but has major plans to scale its operation in the coming years.

Ultimately, the coming months — and years — will tell how successful the carrier is financially. Time will illustrate Beond’s ability to draw sufficient interest from passengers and overcome the myriad of challenges faced by startup airlines.