Flying Non-Stop or Getting Upgraded

Flying Non-Stop or Getting Upgraded 2016-01-31T19:41:58-08:00

Hi Joel,

I’m planning to travel solo from JFK to Beijing in late April and am leaning toward taking Air China International’s direct flight, whose current fare is very good. Is there anything short of selling my soul that could get me upgraded to business class without paying for it?

The prospect of sitting that long in a coach seat is terrifying. I’m a professional writer by trade. Is there any leverage I could get using that as background and offering to do a travel story about them? Who do I approach? I have lots of United frequent flier miles and ACI is a United partner, but evidently they don’t accept United’s FF miles.


Wendy Murphy


edited question

Answered by The Penny Pincher

Hi Wendy,

I prefer non-stop flights, although when it comes to a choice between non-stop and an upgraded seat—my preference is for the upgrade. If you agree with me, you can take United Airlines flight #801 from JFK to NRT (Narita, Japan) connecting to United Airlines Flight #875 NRT to PEK (Beijing, China). Both flights use the Boeing 777 equipment and an upgradeable fare currently sells for $791.

Considering your situation, I would opt for this flight—get your first/business class seats, and break up the long journey with a stop at the very nice airport in Narita.

As for using your writing credentials for getting an upgrade, you can try to contact United Airlines Press Office and query if they are interested in having a story written. However, I caution that this is most likely a futile exercise. Usually, when a travel provider or tour operator is interested in promoting their services they will organize a press junket. It’s rare that an airline will take an unsolicited offer from a writer to write a story in exchange for some form of travel services.

Let my know how your trip works out.

All the best,