Me-go: Around-the-World



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As you know, I’ve been planning my air travel and routing for a while now. Through all of my years of experience doing this sort of thing I’ve realized that the most logical route might not be the best. As I discussed in this post, I narrowed my options for getting to Mongolia to transit through China or South Korea. After some deliberation I decided that it would be best to travel through Seoul and fly to Mongolia on Korean Airlines–a dependable airline. With this option I could book both of my flights through STA–my usual travel agent. All together I talked to at least four different agents at STA and they all had different suggestions for me. Some suggested that it would be okay to fly through Beijing and that I shouldn’t worry about the connections to MIAT (Mongolian Airlines). Another said that it was to iffy to try to connect to MIAT and I should wait the night in China for a morning flight to Ulaan Baatar (UB) on Korean. One told me to look into booking the ticket to UB myself through MIAT directly.

Ultimately I decided to book through STA and take Korean Airlines through Seoul to UB. The cost was about $250 more than flying through Beijing, but with the security that I would have a confirmation number and the added benefit of seeing Seoul for a few days. So last Friday I called STA to book the ticket , having resigned myself to the extra cost. In my research I saw that Korean has a noon flight to UB which no one has told me about. You see, one of my reservations about flying Korean was arriving around midnight. This time I got a hostile agent who told me I couldn’t book the morning flight because it was a code share with MIAT. I was back to square one! She insisted that she could not book that ticket no matter what, even though two other agents had told me they could. And now that it was a code share with Korean I was sure they could issue me a ticket for that flight. At this point I was a little upset (I don’t like making snap decisions) and asked about Beijing. Well, Beijing is sold out! It hasn’t been too long since I last inquired, but all of the $650 student fares are now sold out and a one way ticket to Beijing was now up to $1,400–even though we’re still more than three months out.

The hostile agent told me she could still sell me a one way ticket to Seoul which had plenty of openings at the $650 price. Not sure what to do I hung up to start over again. The last time I contacted the MIAT agent in NYC was to inquire about tickets from Beijing. So, I called the agent back and asked for a quote from Seoul. I was shocked to hear $409, but with the cheap Seoul fare from STA it would be hundreds of dollars less than flying to UB on Korean. Sometimes it’s funny how things work out. It’s hard to know when the best time to buy a ticket because the prices change every day.

With that quote I decided to call on Monday to book my tickets. Even though that was only a few days ago I’m not sure why I waited until Monday, probably to let it sink in a bit. Yesterday I called STA and told the agent to book me one way from Chicago to Seoul. Done. I think it was the same hostile agent from last week, but she was in a much better mood this time. Don’t take my talk of the hostile agent the wrong way, I love STA Travel. I’ve booked flights from or to Copenhagen, London, Istanbul, Athens, Lima, Cusco, Seattle, Tokyo and Beijing with them in the past. If you have student status they are always the cheapest agent to book with for international flights from the U.S. Every trip I take I get quotes from at least three companies. This time I talked to STA, Air Treks, Air Brokers, the MIAT representative in NYC and a few Korean and Chinese agencies I found in the paper. I like to cover all my bases.

In only five minutes I was booked on a June 8th flight from O’Hare to Seoul with a change of planes in Tokyo. We had a long discussion about window vs aisle (I like the window, but on a long flight it’s best to have the aisle) and the fact that it’s a 777 and has a 2-5-2 seat configuration. I am not a vegetarian and don’t have any dietary restrictions but I did request that I not be served Japanese food! She assured me that, because it is a United Airlines flight to Tokyo, I should be fine. My flight to Tokyo last year was on All Nippon, which is a gorgeous airline, but I’m not a fan of Japanese food in it’s airline form or otherwise. Once I leave Chicago it will take me 18 hours to arrive in Seoul, with about 16 hours of that actually in-flight. If you want to do math involving time zones in the future I recommend

You’re curious about costs, aren’t you? That’s okay, everyone is. Here’s how it breaks down (keep in mind this is a student fare):

  • Fare: $562.50
  • Tax: 21.50
  • STA service fee: $6
  • ISIC student card: $22
  • Total: $612

I am waiting to hear back on some details about Mongolia before I decide which day to book my flight to Ulaan Baatar. There are pressing issues at stake like “What does National Costume Day entail exactly?” and do I need to arrange my schedule so I’m in town for it? After a serious meltdown when I heard that guesthouses were already filling up for June and July I rashly emailed just about every guesthouse in UB and am reassured that if I book soon I will have a place to sleep that is not a tent. In any case, I should be booking the flight to UB and accommodation soon!

9 responses to “Booked!”

  1. Han Avatar

    Whoo hoo! On the road again soon! Congrats!

  2. vlad Avatar

    ugh, trying to figure out itineraries. it can be such a pain sometimes. not as much when you’re at home and have lots of time to plan, but when you’re on the road and have to spend all day in an internet cafe, researching a million different route possibilities on the slowest internet connection known to man… the worst!! anyways, that’s so awesome that you have your flight booked and everything. that must make the trip seem all that much closer.

    you dont like japanese food?!

  3. Jan Avatar

    So glad to hear your about to be on the move again. The airlines can be so frustrating at times and another day they are so helpful. Now you’l have to work at saving some money for the trip. What are you doing in Univ? is this why you waited till June?

  4. stu Avatar

    oh, cool! i see you -have- booked. June 8th…so close, but yet so far…

  5. Filipe Morato Gomes Avatar
    Filipe Morato Gomes

    Hi Megan, I just bookmarked this website after reading about your trip on RTWers. It?s a good feeling to have a flight ticket to somewhere, isn?t it? Wish you all the best for your trip. Filipe

  6. Megan Avatar


    Thanks for looking at my site. It is really refreshing to finally have a ticket and a date! It’s also scary because now I have to get moving and sort out everything at home before I leave.

    I took a peek at your site, looks pretty extensive. I’ll have to spend some more time there.

  7. Megan Avatar


    I am getting my certificate in fashion design. I started it about 4 years ago for fun and I’ve taken so many classes I can get it. Classes don’t end until May but the real reason I waited to leave is because of my mom (helping her get the house ready to sell) and the weather on my route.

  8. Megan Avatar


    I know! This is why I plan out the start of my trip so much but everything else is on the go. I don’t think I’ll need to fly until I’m leaving India though, that is unless Nepal keeps getting worse.

    All of a sudden it’s so close! And I need to do a lot of stuff around here before I leave as well as get finances, insurance etc. all set up.

    I really don’t like seafood at all and hate the taste of seaweed. I did have some good Japanese food when I went out with a group of JET teachers in Kyoto but I had no idea what to order on my own. Remember, being brought up the midwest we’re not used to seafood unless it’s frozen and breaded!

  9. Yann Avatar

    Hello Megan,

    I have been following your travels and planning since you posted on Your site is excellent btw.

    My partner and I are planning a trip in Asia for a year or more and bought a oneway ticket to Shanghai:
    Toronto-Chicago with AA
    Chicago-Tokyo with JAL
    Tokyo-Shanghai with JAL

    My question is did you have any trouble getting your boarding passes with a oneway ticket. (I have read that sometimes it is the case.) From your experience was it a problem? If so, how did you convince them to get your boarding passes?