Prince William Flies American Airlines Coach!

Prince William didn’t clear his upgrade for Memphis – Dallas on American this week.

Onboard one of American’s new pimped out Airbus A319s, Prince William had a bulkhead window seat for the 1 hour 40 minute flight.

The Prince could certainly have bought first class, or purchased miles and paid a cash co-pay…

So either it was a publicity stunt or just the effect of moving from MD80s with 16 first class seats to these new planes that have only 8.

It certainly wasn’t frugality as one imagines that he did not continue in coach for his connecting Dallas – London flight on British Airways.

Royal or no, I’d personally take American’s new 777-300ER product that’s flying to London over BA’s forward cabins.

It should be noted that there’s a reasonable likelihood the Prince obtained his bulkhead seat through some sort of royal privilege — or Oneworld Emerald status.

(HT: Henry Harteveldt on Facebook)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Oh, please. You don’t think he could have asked AA to boot someone outta their first class seat with one phone call? He just got off a three week tour where half his wife’s clothes had been worn one or two times prior. They didn’t even take a chef when they got married. I doubt it had anything to do with publicity. He could have rented…or been loaned for free…a zillion private planes with the same one phone call.

  2. On non- royal related travels he has to pay for it out of his pay check. Plus he has to pay for the body guards to travel.

    I’m sure his upgrade chance on speedbird is pretty high. 😉

  3. At first glance, I thought it was Gary Leff in the picture and was equally shocked to see him in coach.

  4. @Gary70 – When he was in the RAF, he was referred to as Flight Lt. Wales. Harry is referred to as Capt. Wales in the British Army. I’d imagine that when they have to use a last name, that’s what they use.

    @Lu – You’re right in your first sentence, but wrong on your second. He doesn’t have to pay for his security detail, Scotland Yard pays for that, no matter what he’s doing. This has been part of the reason that his cousins (Prince Andrew’s daughters) have lost their security most of the time – they were protected 24/7 even though they rarely did any royal business, and it was busting Scotland Yard’s budget. William’s different, since he’s the future King.

  5. You guys are all pathetic to really care why he’s flying it, why he’s in coach, or what he has to pay or not. No life?

  6. @ Mike – if all you have to offer are judgmental and snarky remarks, please don’t waste your time reading this blog and let the rest of us enjoy it!

  7. It would’ve been a better ride in another time on a Pan Am flight. At one time it was THE class airline to fly. Style, class, and superb unequaled, unparalleled service. Pan Am wasn’t history. It made history. Period!

  8. He has to read @garyleff and sign up on mileage earning cards. He looks the chase sapphire type.

  9. the family name they would use is WINDSOR. the army was just a pseudonym.

    i assume he booked it via BA, which allows listing of HRH or Prince titles on all tickets too. doubt that carries over to AA tickets though.

  10. The bigger question is, why the hell would Prince William ever want to go to Memphis?

  11. @Mike I could not agree more…

    @Carol a couple of bloggers made a big deal over the fact that he flew coach, so what… He is more grounded then his father ever was, I’m grateful he is more like his mother. This blog is about travel not who and why someone fly’s coach…

  12. Andrew, his friend and nightclub owner was getting married to the American granddaughter of Holiday Inn’s founder. Home for the bride’s family is the same state as former VP Gore’s traditional home state.

  13. Prince William’s surname is now Cambridge, not Windsor nor Wales. Only the surname of male-line descendants of the Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen who are not styled as Royal Highness, or titled as Prince or Princess, is Mountbatten-Windsor.

  14. He was flying with four Royal Protection Officers and has to be in the same cabin as they are. That would have been five First Class seats. It made more sense for a short flight to put them all in coach.

  15. I was on this flight and sat about four rows behind “Prince William”. I chatted with him for a few minutes at the gate in Memphis. The reason his name is in quotes is because his real name is Simon Watkinson. You can check out his website here:

    Come on, the real Prince William in coach? That’s about as likely as spotting Gary Leff seated in the back of the bus.

  16. Personal trip so he pays the fares for the protection officers as well as his own. He may be wealthy but isn’t in a position to spring for all business class fares transatlantic for the sake of a weekend

  17. Mick, it was published upthread that he flew Business transatlantic and that Scotland Yard pays for his protection whether it’s a personal trip or not.

  18. I’m glad Prince William is willing to flying commercial. Honestly, I think our own government officials should consider it. It would save taxpayers a ton of money and would set a good example. Even the First Family should go commercial sometimes (although probably not the President himself for security reason). Like why couldn’t Michelle and the kids fly UA to China for spring break. If you don’t announce their itinerary in advance, put a few Secret Service agents on the flight and do an extra pax screen at the gate, it would be about 99.99999% safe for them — statistically, about the same as a military jet. That’s certainly safe enough.

  19. @iahphx – Most government officials DO fly commercial the vast majority of the time, if for no other reason than the US Air Force’s VIP fleet is rather small, and thus is usually not available. If the official is senior enough, and if a plane is available, and if they’re traveling on government business, then they can have a plane.

    And the Secret Service would NEVER allow ANY member of the First Family to fly commercial, and they shouldn’t. The more people they’re in proximity to, the more potential security problems.

    Your example is an extremely poor one. 1) The China trip was government business, so they’re going to be flying a USAF jet. 2) First Family travel is nearly ALWAYS announced in advance. The Washington press corps has an aneurysm if it’s not. 3) It takes more than “a few” Secret Service agents to protect the First Family, even if the President isn’t there. The security arrangements alone would make the FF flying commercial wholly impractical.

  20. Brian —

    I agree that the current Secret Service procedures would make it “impractical” for members of the President’s family to fly commercial. But those procedures should be changed. There’s a huge difference between safety and paranoia. Even during the Cold War, President Nixon took a commercial transcon flight (admittedly, it was mostly a stunt). I cannot believe that the First Family would be less safe on a properly screened commercial jet than they would be at a, say, fundraiser. It’s a very controlled environment.

  21. @iahphx – “But those procedures should be changed. There’s a huge difference between safety and paranoia. Even during the Cold War,”

    No, they shouldn’t. Given the potential consequences of something happening to the First Family, better to be paranoid. And, if anything, the present is MORE dangerous than the Cold War, given the threat presented by terrorist groups who don’t owe allegiance to any particular nation.

    ” I cannot believe that the First Family would be less safe on a properly screened commercial jet than they would be at a, say, fundraiser.”

    They wouldn’t be less safe than they would be at a fundraiser. But they WOULD be less safe than they would be on an Air Force plane. And what about the other passengers on this commercial flight? Do you want them to be inconvenienced because of the security procedures that would be necessary? Or do you want them potentially placed in danger if some terrorist or nutjob decides to try something?

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