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NYC area to Southeast Asia and back - flight suggesions

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These forums were a great help when arranging our European travel, and I am back for more advice. My wife and I are finally ready to book some plans for our Southeast Asia trip in July and August. I am going to post our rough itinerary on another discussion, but here I have a question about our flight plan.

I think we will break up our flight from the NYC area to Southeast Asia in LA. We will stay in LA for a few nights and then travel LAX to BKK. I think we are going to brave the long flight home directly or as close to direct as we can get it. I've been researching for a while and it seems BKK to NYC is the most cost effective airport to return home from. Unless our plans and final destination change, I'm thinking of booking the NYC to LAX, LAX to BKK and BKK to NYC flights soon. The price has stayed at about the same level for a while and it seems as good as its going to get, about $1800 each for the whole thing. If our plans have us ending up far away from Bangkok then our return flight would change, but we're thinking of crafting our plans to have us start and finish in Bangkok.

Here are my questions:
1. Any other major airport run regular, more direct/shorter and possibly more inexpensive flights from that part of the world to the NYC area that I should check out before booking this flight combination? For example, if Hong Kong to NYC might offer us a cheaper and/or more direct flight home to NYC then we might arrange our plans to have us end in Hanoi, then fly to Hong Kong for a few nights and then Hong Kong to NYC. Based on my research, it seems BKK to NYC is best.
2. When should I book our country to country flights? For example, if we planned to go Thailand to Viietnam and Vietnam to Cambodia. Do I need to book early to get an inexpensive flight or will flights probably stay inexpensive? If I don't have to lock us in to flights, I will wait until right before or during our trip so that we can be flexible in regards to rain or other sudden changes in our plans.
3. Any words of warning or other pieces of advice for booking the long journey NYC to SE Asia and back?

A post with our rough itinerary will be posted shortly. Thank you very much for any help you can provide.

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