Southern China Air had the cheapest fares to Beijing. Indeed, suspiciously cheap - $200 cheaper than the nearest non-Chinese competitor. Safety reports (above) mean that every dip or rattle during takeoff will provide just that little extra bit of exhilaration. Using a bunch of meta-booking sites like Kayak or SkyScanner that bring together different booking agents from all over the internet, we weighed up our options. All pointed to the Southern China Air website as being the cheapest option. Repeated attempts at trying to buy tickets were thwarted though with the SCA website spitting out HTML code (they had an XML header for a HTML document for some reason) or simplified Chinese text. How can they keep up a plane but not a website?
It was too difficult trying to synchronize bookings between us over the internet M decided. I was worried that we would end up booking different flights. I got home first and, it being payday, set about drinking a six pack. By the time M got home, I was pretty committed to flying East China to Shanghai. The rationale was that the quarter circle between Beijing and Shanghai (between twelve and three o'clock) was not absolutely vital for us to see - we could cut that out and then catch the trans-Siberian out of Beijing. Plus it was cheaper and faster to get there - some diabolical itineraries had a fourteen hour layover between flights.
Eventually we went with East China air to Shanghai . Just a 10 hour flight for $582 each.