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International flight booking/baggage

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I'm planning to go to the Philippines Manila, then Boracay) in April. I've traveled before, but never done it all myself. Someone suggested I post here because it's so flight-related.

I was looking on momondo & kayak. I'm coming from NY, and it seems pretty clear that the best deal will involve multiple airlines. It's been suggested to me that I could browse, then deal directly with the airlines involved. I'm not shy about that... Only thing I am wondering is if that can get sticky scheduling a round trip...but on the other hand, maybe that's easier to give myself plenty of layover time.

My one unease here is baggage. I'm figuring that between the different airlines, I'll have to claim my bags and re-check them with the next flight. For those who have done this, what's a good safe time to have between the flights? For example, it looks like I'll have a quick flight to JFK, then one stop in China (PEK), then to Manila. The one in China, is of course, the one I'm nervous about because I"ve never been there. So how much time is good and safe between landing in China and taking off again for Manila?...and anything else you folks who have done this sort of thing can add, by all means :).

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