China, Japan, Korea, and… Mongolia?!?!?

Ah, here’s one of those stories I hate to tell, because it makes me feel like a total moron, so enjoy!

As I’ve mentioned before I was planning on burning some AA miles for a trip, and most recently I was looking at Asia. We would fly AA for the transpacific portion and then CX (Cathay Pacific) for the intra-asia portions, all in First for me and my mom. I’m sitting at 247,000 AA miles right now, so even buying a few thousand miles for $140ish wouldn’t have been too bad in order to get to 250,000, especially for the value we could have gotten out of it. Heck, I even had the trip all planned out with hotels and everything, although fortunately nothing booked!

Everytime I was doing searches for AA awards it was coming up as 125,000 miles per person in First to NRT, so I assumed that much like United that would apply to most parts of SE Asia as well, including SIN, BKK, HKG, etc. So last night, being the bright guy that I am (yeah right), I wanted to double check that I was correct, just to be certain. I looked at AA’s award zoning in Asia and saw that only “Asia Region 1” costs 125,000 miles, while “Asia Region 2” costs 135,000 miles. OK, no sweat on my end, I assume that Asia Region 2 might be Nepal, Maldives, etc.

Then I get the genius idea of acutally clicking to verify how they define their regions, and anger immediately starts to build up in me for being such a moron. Here’s what I find:

  • Asia Region 1: China Japan, Korea, Mongolia
  • Asia Region 2: Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, Guam, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Saipan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam

My anger quickly wore off as I started to laugh. Mongolia?!?!?!? Huuuuh? I’d be hard pressed to tell you the capital of Mongolia (ok, maybe just the spelling), let alone realize that they would include that in Asia Region 1. So I tell my friend Robert about this and we start doing some research, only to find out that no OneWorld carrier even serves Mongolia. Can someone explain to me why the heck they even have that on the chart then, let alone with the cheaper awards, which otherwise consist of China, Japan, and Korea?!?!

Another thing we found really strange is the number of miles required for Asia Region 1 vs. Region 2 award travel. Let’s compare:

  • Y: Asia 1-65K/Asia 2-70K/difference=5K
  • C: Asia 1-90K/Asia 2-110K/difference=20K
  • F: Asia 1-125K/Asia 2-135K/difference= 10K

Is there any reason that they charge double the premium for C over F when comparing the two regions? Just seems odd to me.

I guess it’s time to keep saving AA miles, cause they wont be taking me anywhere this new in Asia this summer. While it was frustrating, I ended up being more confused by AA’s structure than anything else. I guess it’s time to look into other options, although with the value of the Euro I’m not quite sure what…

Filed Under: American
  1. Not sure If I understand you, but you were hoping for a ride to SE Asia, and now you are to travel to Mongolia. Not bad, it could’ve been worse.

    It’s a wild place.

    And answer to your question is Japan, Korea, China and Mongolia are neighbours, let alone closer to each other!

    So, give it a shot if you change your mind! As a Mongolian, I suggest you do it!

  2. Sorry, maybe I wasn’t clear. I would actually LOVE to visit Mongolia, it’s on my list of places to see. The issue is that AA puts Mongolia in their award chart yet doesn’t fly there!!! That’s why I was disappointed.

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