Booth is on a plane in coach, sandwiched between two elderly women. One lady is sleeping and the other lady is reading a crime novel. He gets up to go to the bathroom, and walks into first class. He sees a teenager named Eli taking liquor bottles and makes the kid hand them over. Eli's dad asks if there's a problem and Booth says no. Booth then sits down next to Bones, who had booked a seat in first class. He checks out her amenities, including a vibrating seat, then the flight attendant kicks him out. Booth tries to argue that he needs to be with his partner, and Bones tells the flight attendant that they are going to China so she can engage her true passion of studying ancient remains. The flight attendant doesn't care and sends Booth back to coach.
Booth sneaks back into first class after seeing that the flight attendant has left. He sits down next to Bones and says that he thought working with him was her true passion. She tells him that studying remains is what led her to be a forensic investigator in the first place and for her science comes first. The detectives then hear a scream and follow the voice to the galley below the plane. The flight attendant is standing there in shock after discovering a charred body in the oven. Booth argues with the pilot over whether or not they are on US or Chinese territory. The pilot tells Booth that they have the four hours left in the air to solve the case, because when they land, they will be on Chinese territory.
Camille, who had given everyone the day off, calls everyone back in to work on the case over an internet connection. The team arrives to work in their street clothes and after making fun of Sweets, they get to work.
Booth and Bones set up a makeshift lab on the plane. Booth asks the lady who he was sitting next to for some tweezers and tape. She figures that there must have been a murder on the plane and says that she thinks it was someone in first class because everyone else who got up came back. She then hands Booth a knitting needle and tells him that Dr. Brennan will want to use it as a probe.
Booth returns with the supplies and Bones is excited to see the probe because she didn't even think to ask for one. Booth takes credit for the idea and Bones gets to work. Booth notices the phone is off the hook and he calls in the staff to find out who used it. Another flight attendant named Ming admits that she called her boyfriend. The pilot says that her call was a violation of the rules. She tells him that sleeping with passengers in the bathroom is against the rules too and Booth breaks up the argument.
Hodgins sees that the charred fingertips suggest that the victim was wearing fake nails, Camille finds that the victim had either brown or red hair, and Bones sees that the victim was about 5'2. The detectives ask the flight attendants who fits the description and they realize that a first class passenger named Elizabeth Jones fits the description and is now missing. Booth and Bones wake up the man who is sitting in the seat next to Elizabeth's seat. He tells the detectives that he never saw the person he was next to because he took sleeping pills for the flight. Eli's dad stands up and asks everyone to keep it down so his sick wife can get some rest. His wife says she doesn't mind and Eli, now drunk, backs up his mom.
After noticing a shadow in the sternum, Booth takes pictures of the remains for the team to study. Booth borrows his seat neighbor's reading glasses so Bones can get a magnified image of the remains. Booth sees Bones in the glasses and asks her to tell him that he will be punished for his overdue books. Bones is confused by his statement, but continues her work.
Bones notices that there is a wound on the skull and she figures that the victim was hit on the head before she was killed. Bones asks Booth to bring her denture cream, baby powder, and a lighter so she can get an imprint of the wound and find the murder weapon. Booth asks the ladies if they have denture cream, but both have their original teeth. Booth then announces to the whole plane that he needs the items that Bones requested. People hand forward the cream and powder, but no one has a lighter because they are not allowed on the plane. Ming secretly hands him a lighter and claims that she confiscated it from a passenger.
The detectives learn that Elizabeth Jones was a writer for a travel magazine and Bones asks Caroline to find out more. Caroline tells the detectives that she will make a convincing case to take on both the US and Chinese governments. Camille sends Caroline and Sweets to talk to Howard Kendall, the magazine editor, to find out more information about Elizabeth. He tells them that she was on a trip to China for pleasure, not work. He says that she had time off after finishing her expose on airline pilots with undisclosed DUIs which was scheduled to be published in the next issue.
Bones gets an impression of the murder weapon and Booth sees that the pattern matches the door handle of the oven. The detectives figure the killer slammed the victim into the door handle, then shoved her into the oven. Camille asks Bones to give her a description of the flesh, but Bones doesn't feel comfortable making a subjective assessment. Booth steps in and they realize that the color of the skin means there was blood present, so she was alive when put in the oven and the density of the cooked flesh means she was killed about 6 hours ago. Bones puts a sample of the flesh in a glass and asks Booth to find her some vodka to preserve the sample. Booth realizes that Eli took all the vodka. He approaches Eli and gets the bottles back. He tells Eli that he knows that his mom is sick, but he should try to make her proud with the little time they have left together. Caroline then calls Booth and tells him that the flight's pilot was mentioned in Elizabeth's upcoming expose.
Booth talks to the pilot and says that the unreported DUI he has would cost him $250,000 in fines. Booth says that it would give him a strong motive for murder. The pilot tells Booth that his DUI happened the day of his father's funeral and he did not kill the writer. Booth asks the pilot to give him more time to solve the case, otherwise he will look guilty. The pilot says he can call in with electrical problems which would give them an extra hour. Booth thanks the pilot for his cooperation.
Sweets talks to Howard Kendell alone and asks if he knows anything about Elizabeth's personal life. Howard admits that he wanted to get together with Elizabeth but she turned him down. Sweets asks if he knows anyone she might have had an affair with and Howard tells him that he knew she was seeing a married man named Artie. Howard admits that he was mad she chose a married man over him, but insists that he had nothing to do with her death.
Angela and Hodgins use computer enhancing imagery to figure out what the shadow in the sternum is. Eventually they find out that it was a band-aid that was on a large man's finger with creases that implicate a joint injury. Angela tells Hodgins that she likes working with him. He asks her if Roxie is the reason she broke up with him. Angela tells Hodgins that she is capable of falling in love with men too and Roxie is not the reason they broke up. Bones interrupts and tells Angela that she heard everything. Angela asks her what she thinks and Bones only addresses the issue pertaining to the case.
Bones addresses the passengers and asks if anyone has a laceration on their metacarpal, then Booth takes over and asks who wants a signed copy of Dr. Brennan's book. Everyone raises their hands and Bones goes around to inspect the fingers. She finds a man named Nick DeVito with a finger injury and he explains that it's just trigger finger. Booth and Bones take Nick into first class and ask him if he was having a relationship with Elizabeth. They call Sweets and asks him to ask Howard if Elizabeth had a relationship with Nick DeVito. Howard says that the only person he knew about was a man named Artie who was cheating on his sick wife.
Eli's dad stands up again and asks everyone to be quiet for his wife's health. Booth realizes that Eli's dad is named Arthur. Booth asks him if he was having an affair with Elizabeth and killed her when he saw her on the plane with his family. Arthur tells Booth that he was having the affair, but this trip was to take his wife Ann to see the Great Wall of China before she died. Arthur says he saw Elizabeth on the plane and figured that she followed him, but he didn't kill her. Arthur then tells Booth that he is a lawyer and he knows that he won't be able to prove he killed anyone.
Angela and Hodgins discover that the victim's body had a melted SIM card on it. The pilot then tells Booth that he was informed that a man was arrested in China for possessing stolen credit card numbers that belonged to the passengers on the flight. Booth doesn't care, but the pilot says that the man was Ming's boyfriend. Booth and Bones realize that Ming was busted calling her boyfriend with the numbers and think she might have killed Elizabeth to keep her from talking. They confront Ming and she admits to the credit card scam, but denies killing Elizabeth. She explains that she heard Elizabeth coming, so she panicked and hid in the closet. She heard the struggle, but only saw the feet of the killer. Ming tells them that the killer was wearing the slippers that are handed out in first class.
Bones tells Booth that she can make an ultra violet light out of camera parts and sunglasses. The pilot then tells them that he has to land the plane soon. Booth demands more time, but the pilot says that they will run out of fuel in 20 minutes. Bones walks through first class with her makeshift detector and finds blood traces on a passenger's foot. Booth removes the passenger's blanket cover and sees that it's Eli. Booth asks Eli if he knew about the affair and killed Elizabeth. Eli's dad tells him not to say anything. Booth calls Caroline and asks for a warrant to arrest Eli, but she demand more concrete evidence. Bones sees that a video game cartridge is missing from his case and asks Angela and Hodgins if the SIM card could be from a game. They say it is a likely conclusion and just before the plane touches down, Caroline issues the arrest warrant, and Booth reads Eli his rights.
The plane lands and the passengers applaud. Bones thanks everyone, but Booth tells her the applause is for the landing. The detectives stay on the flight with Eli while the airline finds another pilot to fly them home. Booth apologizes to Bones for making her miss out on the old bones in China. He also says he's sorry for dragging her out of science and into detective work. Bones reminds him that she had to almost force him to let her join the team. Eli asks if they are going to make out and Bones asks why everyone says that.
Angela meets with Roxie and asks her to move in with her. Roxie tells Angela that she can't because it's too soon. Angela smiles and says that she is usually the one in the relationship who gives that excuse.