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Airfare deals are typically only available on limited dates. We recommend you use Google Flights to find dates to fly, then book through an online travel agency such as Orbitz or Expedia, which allows you to cancel flights without penalty by 11pm Eastern Time within one day of booking. However, if you’re using The Platinum Card® from American Express, you’ll need to book directly with the airline or through the Amex Travel portal to get 5x MR points. Remember: Fares may disappear quickly, so book right away and take advantage of Orbitz or Expedia’s courtesy cancellation if you’re unable to get the time away from work or family.
High airfare prices can scare people away from exploring a new destination, especially one as far away as China. But December is proving to be a great time to book a cheap flight there. A week after we saw prices to Beijing and Shanghai dip below $400 round-trip in coach, we see fares as low as $368 today. Those are some of the lowest prices you’ll see to Asia.
These fares are available from February through April, meaning you can start out the year with a great trip to China and get a head start on elite status qualification for 2019, and are available from a slew of US cities, both large and small. Smaller cities such as Columbus and Fort Myers join Boston, Miami, Seattle and Washington, DC. Both Beijing and Shanghai are well-connected if you want to jump somewhere else in Asia. And, both also represent great cities to explore. Be sure to check out Get Your Guide’s list of best activities in Beijing and Shanghai.
To search for these flights, head to Google Flights and enter your origin and destination cities. Scroll through the calendar function to find dates and prices that work for you. Finally, click through to book directly with the airline or through an OTA like Cheap-O-Air, Priceline, or Expedia. Note: the total cost will differ from what’s on the Google Flight results page and what’s offered through sites like Cheap-O-Air, Expedia, and Priceline. Check each OTA’s final price to ensure you are booking a deal fare. Also, note that Cheap-O-Air is the most consistent OTA in regards to actually offering the fares seen through search engines like Google Flights and Kayak.
Airlines: Air Canada, Delta, United
Routes: ATL/AUS/DEN/DFW/MIA/PDX/SEA to PEK/PVG
Cost: $368 to ~$500
Travel Dates: Late February to mid-April
Book via: Cheap-O-Air, some itineraries also bookable via Expedia/Priceline
Pay With: The Platinum Card® from American Express (5x on airfare booked directly with the airline), Citi Premier Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, American Express® Gold Card, Citi Prestige Card (3x on airfare plus excellent trip delay insurance) or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x on travel)
The calendar for my hometown of Washington, DC, shows pretty wide availability between the three airports (IAD, DCA and BWI).
Philadelphia (PHL) to Beijing (PEK) for $403 round-trip on Delta:
Las Vegas (LAS) to Beijing (PEK) for $375 round-trip on Air Canada via Cheap-O-Air:
Watch for flights with longer connections, like this BWI departure:
Maximize Your Purchase
Don’t forget to use a credit card that earns additional points on airfare purchases, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express (5x on flights booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel), Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, American Express® Gold Card, Citi Premier Card, Citi Prestige Card (3x on airfare) or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x on all travel purchases). Check out this post for more on maximizing airfare purchases.
With some great bonus categories, the American Express Gold Card has a lot going for it. The card offers 4x points at US restaurants, at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x), and 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com. It is currently offering a welcome bonus of 35,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.
- Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
- Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. restaurants. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X).
- Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
- Earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with The Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, and Ruth's Chris Steak House. This is an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
- $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
- Choose to carry a balance with interest on eligible charges of $100 or more.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- Annual Fee is $250.
- Terms apply.
- See Rates & Fees