Although the airline ticket market is so fast, furious, and whacky you’ll want to check many sources before booking, a few tips I’ve learned from my China ticket booking:
* Although I was told by a ticketer that generally Hong Kong is the cheapest destination it seemed Shanghai and Beijing (PEK) tickets were in the same price ballpark of 800-1000 from my rural area, and perhaps 100-200 less for round trips from San Francisco.
* Vayama was often the low rate among consolidators, but it was not clear if changes would be more severely penalized through a consolidator so we went directly through United.com. This was $46 more on my $886 ticket, an open jaw from MFR to Hong Kong, then Beijing to MFR. Airfares.com offered the same flights for $840. I’m assuming changes will be much easier directly through United, but not clear if this was worth the extra money.
* Open jaw did not seem to increase the price much if at all.
* Fees and taxes are not reported by all consolidators online, and it seemed there were no “killer consolidators” who offered rates much different from the Airlines for economy classes. I would guess that for first class things become driven by strange forces and your company should shop around carefully to avoid getting gouged. Some of the first class seats were showing at $25,000. I can’t imagine what I’d need in terms of comfort to justify that price, even if money was absolutely no object.