Life is pretty funny sometimes - it never works out the way you think it will. You know the old saying, "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans?" Seems appropriate here.
I had planned on riding the trans-siberian from Moscow to Beijing, arriving in China from Mongolia. Well... things happen. My train ticket broker (essentially a scalper) came back to me at the last minute and said that he couldn't get me tickets for the train that he said I would have guaranteed tickets on way back in April. I thought about giving up on the entire trip - the train was a big part of it. But in the end I decided to simply fly to Beijing and begin my journey there and continue on with the Beijing & Vietnam portions of my trip.
I flew Air China non-stop from Chicago to Beijing on Saturday, the 18th of August. It was a 12 1/2 hour flight and was long long long. Interestingly enough, though, it was really a United flight that is code shared with United & Air China. I had to purchase a last minute ticket because of the snafu with the train guy, so went to Expedia.com and United.com on the 8th of August. The ticket on United was $1500 - the ticket on Air China was $950. Hmmm. Don't ask me, but I bought Air China. I wonder if I'll get United frequent flyer miles? The # was printed on the ticket. I supposed I'd rather have the $550 more than the 6500 miles. (an update - I *did* receive the frequent flyer miles...!)
Another interesting fact - this flight goes due north out of Chicago and then goes over the pole (or close to it) - making it a 12 1/2 flight instead of a 18-22 hour flight with connections.
Pretty cool, huh?