Flew from JFK on Air Canada for $859 roundtrip via Vancouver. Found the price on kayak.com which directed me to 1800cheapseats.com . Flying this way going out was not bad, but returning with a long layover in Vancouver was not fun.
Did a lot of research about where to go using Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree online travel forum. This has the most up-to-date info for a lot of off-the-beaten track type places that printed guidebooks don't usually have (even better than LP's China guidebook!)