“Trick Routings” Using American Miles to Get to Asia

Reader Adam asks,

I’m always using AA miles on CX awards to Hong Kong/ SE Asia. What are other options that may not be obvious? Like, are there possible routes through Europe, or HNL?

Using American miles for Cathay Pacific awards is an outstanding use of points.

  1. Cathay Pacific has a great product
  2. The awards are relatively cheap at 55,000 miles one-way for business class and 67,500 miles one-way for first.

In fact, I expect that Asia awards are the most likely to become more expensive when AAdvantage next makes changes to their award chart.

    Cathay Pacific First Class Seat

    Cathay Pacific Business Class Seat

American’s options from the US to Southeast Asia are more or less limited to flying on American, Cathay Pacific, and Japan Airlines. (Once you’re in Asia you can continue your travels on other carriers including Malaysia Airlines and Sri Lankan.)

That’s because American will not let you fly between two regions (North America and Asia 1 or Asia 2) and connect in a third, separate region, unless there’s an explicit exception.

  • You can fly between the US and Hong Kong as well as Southeast Asia (Asia 2) and connect in Asia 1 (e.g. Tokyo on American or Japan Airlines)
  • But you cannot do the reverse, connecting in Hong Kong (which is Asia 2) enroute to Tokyo (Asia 1).
  • You also cannot connect in separate ‘third regions’ like Europe or the Middle East when flying between the US and Asia.

Honolulu routings are generally permissible, and this is something that many people do in order to get award tickets from the Mainland US to Australia as Hawaiian Airlines does fly there (with seats closer to domestic first class than lie flat business).

Here’s the Ultimate Guide to Constructing an Award Ticket Using American Miles where I go into some depth on the routing restrictions and exceptions that apply.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I just did something like this this morning, and reference your old post.

    Destination PEK, with AA miles, but they don’t fly direct there, so I booked CX to HKG and 23 hour layover to PEK.

  2. Normally I can see through the click bait headlines on this site but this one had me fooled. I truly expected to see a trick routing.

    And your banner proudly proclaims “View from the Wing: thought leader in travel.” Yeah right!

    I will just add your url to my adblock filter from now.

  3. when I check their web site for flights to asia ( usually san/bkk/san) they have a bad route, san, dfw, hkg, bkk using aa and rj.

    calling in I can get jal with one stop, and cx via hkg.

    imho their site sucks in this instance

  4. I’m still waiting to read the trick, 10 minutes later… (Sarcastic) thanks Gary

  5. I think Gary really meant to title this “One Weird Trick”… 🙂

  6. haha.. I almost thought I wasted 4-5 minutes of my life reading this post, but those funny comments made my day!

  7. this has got to be the most useless post I’ve ever seen on boardingarea, and that’s saying something!

  8. Gary – I’ve been a loyal blog reader for almost 3 years now and the last few months have seen your content go to crap. The click bait headlines and useless stories are turning a lot of readers, including me, off. I’m asking you to right your blog before I and many others just stop reading.

    Please go back to having useful content and not wasting your readers’ time. Otherwise, you’ll be the boy who cried wolf and no one will listen.

  9. I don’t usually bother with these kinds of comments, but I have to agree… there’s been a huge increase in clickbait style titles, maybe because of an increased reliance on Facebook traffic. This one is the worst so far, since there’s indisputably no new information in this post at all, trick or otherwise.

  10. I’d like to echo what AnonCHI said. The quality of the content on this blog has really declined recently, and this post is perfect evidence of that. The content of the post is completely recycled, and the title is misleading. Even worse are the insulting clickbait headlines. You proclaim to be the thought leader in travel, but you insult our intelligence with the clickbait headlines and zero-content posts. Please bring the quality back up or you’ll be losing another reader.

  11. Gary – when I want to use AA miles on CX from LAX – HKG – SYD – AKL and RT do I do all this on AA award site or can I transfer AA miles to Cathay Pacific/Asia Miles and book the award trip on Cathay’s own award site? Any advantage of one over the other? You’ve mentioned previously that some sp airlines award tickets (JAL) are best done on the native airlines site. Can u review this please. Tx

  12. Just another echo to the others, Gary. Your website content has really nosedived. It’s gone from mostly thoughtful analysis and timely information to a very heavy dose of fluff and the really insulting clickbait crap. This article is a perfect example. Tricks? Really?

    Have you thought hard about what kind of website you want, what sort of readers you want, and how you want to be perceived? My fear is that you actually have thought hard about those factors and you’ve decided that you want to dumb things down in hopes of generating more income. Who am I to say I wouldn’t do the same in your position, but you are definitely disappointing a lot of us who have been loyal to you, and used your services, for many years.

  13. Gary, I hate to join the crowd, but seriously, what has happened here lately? You were the single motivating force that got me into this game, I learned everything I needed to start from your blog before branching out and diving into FT, etc. And I have reaped many rewards, many trips, places and experiences I never would have had otherwise – I give you 100% credit. I used your award booking service before I learned the hang of doing big international routings myself, and I was proud to give you my business. But it is sad to see the way this site is degenerating. If you have a good product, people will buy it – whether buy means clicks, ad revenue, CC signups, whatever. Just please get back to the product. I say this as someone who really respects you.

  14. +1 – I’ll still read, and I still like the blog (and I’m one of the ones who has always silently supported you) – but this post just fundamentally rubbed me the wrong way. You are above this.

  15. I usually don’t comment but I just want to +1 the sentiment that this click bating shit has to stop or I will stop reading.

    Oh and as a P.S. We all know you are a narcissistic ass but calling yourself a “thought leader” is over the top even for you.

  16. The only way to punish these crap posts are to not use his credit card links…

  17. Unsubscribe please! Gary has to make a living and so has had to dumb-down his posts which, for the most part, have been good. But this down-turn in his style is more for other readers than for those of us that have been loyal and supportive. That’s fine…things change….people change…new dynamics come into play.

    There are many other good bloggers who have maintained their original style. Sadly Gary is not one of them anymore.

    Good luck with whatever you’re aiming to do with this new direction Gary!

    After many years….I’m moving on as well.

  18. We have a BKK-HKG-HND-SFO one way routing this summer on CX and JL. Is this not allowed, or only when Tokyo is the destination?

  19. @Mike You are right. Why give him another chance to disappoint.

    Fuck it I’m Out

  20. In my opinion, this is the most annoying thing about the Advantage program. Why should it be that somebody in the USA East Coast has to fly the long way to southeast Asia, and can’t fly through Europe or the Middle East — when these are often the best routings? There is usually plenty of award space on Qatar or Malaysian (via Europe) to Asia from the East Coast, which is often also the most direct routing, but AA won’t let you book it. Somebody should send a globe to whomever is responsible for this rule.

    Here is one “trick” that I believe will work, albeit at somewhat higher redemption rates . . . if you fly on at least two OW carriers, I believe you can still fly east to Southeast Asia on a “One World Award” ticket, which is mileage based, but doesn’t have this ridiculous restriction.

  21. agree, this blog is looking like frugal travel guy two.

    Gary, if it is all about the money, you should retire and just let some hacks put out content.

    At this point, even Elliott is better,

    Also, less important, the website redesign is sub par.

  22. @CMK10 – I was thinking THE NAUGHT LEADER IN TRAVEL after this ridiculous thread.

  23. Amazing how Gary is able to pretend not to see all those comments LOL

    “Gary Leff says:
    May 2, 2015 at 5:38 am
    @Ken that is fine, you can connect in Asia 1 when flying between Asia 2 and US”

    and there is always one Ken:

    “Ken says:
    May 2, 2015 at 9:24 am
    Thanks Gary.”

    It’s hilarious, seriously

  24. I was just scrolling to see some information on another topic, and this specific one has over 35 comments! So I had to see what the trick was…but lo-and-behold, the comments are all about Gary’s downward spiral in managing his once-proud blog.

    I took echo the sentiments of the majority and will not be reading any more of Gary’s blogs.

    Some people may not unsubscribe and may put his emails into a Junk folder or may not open the emails. So while the number of “subscribers” may fall a bit, hopefully Gary is not peddling statistics to advertisers and other that “look how many people subscribe to my blog”. As a “thought leader in Loyalty” (or whatever he says he is), that is the first thing he should know about loyalty….someone who is not engaged (ie – reading your blogs), is not a loyal customer. And those that take the time to share their views on how poor this site has become, are also not loyal customers. They are just fed up and are dis-engaged.

    And regarding the info I was looking for….I found it….on another site! So long Gary! I rather support the other bloggers who have stayed true-to-themselves!

  25. If “Mike” = “Sue” then “Ken” = “Gary”!!!

    Come on….of all the comments that people are saying, THAT is your response?! Really?

    You’ve lost the plot, mate!

  26. @Luca I read all of the feedback, I don’t think a response per se is useful, I will share that when I wrote the post answering this reader question I meant the title as a reflection of the subject (“are there any?”) and didn’t anticipate how it would be read as a promise to offer trick routings.

  27. This is getting out of hand.

    I come to the blog knowing there will be hits and misses – and what’s not a trick for us advanced readers could very well be for other less active ones.

    I criticize as much as anyone about things like the AA and Hyatt biases, but good grief the expectations here are absurd. It’s an informative blog that keeps up on industry news better than most.

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