I Barely Made My $US8,000 Business Class Flight To Beijing -- Here's What I Would Have Missed

Last Friday, I took a cab from my apartment in Manhattan to Newark Airport.

I arrived at Newark at noon, in plenty of time for a 3pm flight to Beijing, where I was going to speak at a forum put on by Chinese Internet company Tencent.

I was excited, and not just for China.

The flight was going to be great.

Tencent had generously shelled out for business class tickets.

That meant there was going to be a lay-flat bed, movies, and lots of food.

Problem was, my United flight wasn’t a 3pm flight. It was a noon flight. And I missed it.

Oh, #&%*@!

I’d confused my departure time with my arrival time.

Fortunately, United has a partnership with Air China, which did have a 3:50pm flight to Beijing that day — out of JFK.

So the wonderful woman at the ticket counter booked me onto that flight and I raced to get a cab.

In the cab, I looked down at my new itinerary. It showed how much Tencent had paid for the whole trip.

It was over $US8,000!

Want to see the flying experience that kind of money gets you?

I left my apartment at 11AM -- plenty of time to get to the airport for a 3PM flight.

I took a car to Newark Airport. It's way faster than the train, and cheaper than long term parking.

Looking out the window, I wondered how different China would look than New Jersey

At Newark, I walked past the economy check-in kiosks where I would have usually stopped.

I was flying business class, thanks to Tencent, the people putting on the conference in Beijing.

OH #%[email protected]! MY FLIGHT WAS AT NOON NOT 3PM WHAT WAS I THINKING? I texted my wife in panic.

I stood at the gate wondering if I was going to miss my trip to Beijing entirely.

What in the world *was* I thinking?

Standing there, heat swept over my body as I reeled in embarrassment.

Meanwhile, the woman at the ticket counter searched for any other flights to Beijing.

She found one!

An Air China flight out of JFK, leaving at 3:50pm. Amazingly, it didn't cost any more to transfer.

I jumped in a cab. See ya, Newark!

I checked Google Maps, and PHEW, there was no traffic. I had plenty of time to get to JFK.

I looked at the receipt the ticket counter woman just printed. My flight was costing Tencent $US8,195. Wow!

I arrived at JFK. The Lufthansa counter doubles as an Air China counter.

Sometimes, business class gets you through security faster. Not today.

But here was a perk: An Air China business class ticket got me into Lufthansa's airport lounge.

This is what it looks like on the other side of those doors.

The place was crowded, but calmer than the rest of the terminal.

More importantly, there was food.

Including some cookies…


…wine, beer bottles…

…beers on tap…

…and a pretty impressive array of coffee machines.

There was even an 'entertainment room' set up with TVs.

Best of all, there were outlets everywhere.

I ate some soup and drank a beer. Finally, they called my flight over the PA.

At my gate, business class was boarding.

Meanwhile, the normals stood in line. Suckers!

I walked onto the plane. This is where I would spend the next 13 or so hours.

Sitting, I faced a huge monitor.

Turning it on, I found on demand movies, games, and a flight map.

You control the monitor with this thing.

Next to it there was a USB port. Hallelujah!

This seat across the aisle looked just like mine.

There was a massive 'arm rest' between me and the window seat next to mine. It was basically a table.

The arm rest has seat controls on it. You can go all the way flat.

You get your own pair of noise-cancelling headphones. (I had to give them back at the end)

The flight attendant handed me this newspaper…

…and a menu. What kind of food were we getting?

Looks like some wine…

…a 'famous Mandarin dish' called 'four joyful balls'…

…and later, more.

The menu went on and on.

There was a whole section devoted to the teas available.

It was a little overwhelming.

So I stretched out and relaxed. Lots of legroom.

My neighbour and I had two windows to look out. She started to snooze right away.

I decided to pretend I was already on China time. That way when I landed in the evening I would be tired.

Shortly after we took off, the attendants served dinner. First came tea.

Then an appetizer. Whoops. I ate this shrimp before I took a picture.

This was the second course: beef roll with asparagus. Not that delicious, sorry to say.

Time to watch some TV. First I watch an Animal Planet show called 'Too Cute' about puppies. I highly recommend it.

Then came a Tina Fey and Paul Rudd movie: Admission. All told I watched five movies.

Sometime in the middle of the flight, one of the flight attendants handed me this note. Nice touch.

This bag was stuffed below the monitor. What's in it?

Nice: toiletries and other helpful stuff.

There were also these slippers

After watching several movies, from a limited selection (none of them very good) I flipped on the flight map. Holy moly: I was over the north pole.

Hours later, I saw that I was flying over the mountains of northern Asia. Impossible to believe.

As we approached Beijing, it was time for breakfast.

Then we landed. I checked in on Foursquare and saw that I'd flown 6,818 miles.

Just like in the US, everyone stood and waited for minutes before the plane doors opened. Why do people do this?


The Beijing airport is beautiful.

The monorail to the main terminal is insanely crowded.

Baggage claim took forever and then some.

I had a driver waiting. Amazingly, Google Maps worked. Only a half hour till bed! I'd been up for 24 hours already.


We arrived at the Kerry Hotel. Like everything seems to be in Beijing, it's very new.

Nice bathroom.

Time to sleep!

Now check out the breakfast I had the next morning

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