Here’s How Airlines Prepare When the Royal Family Flies Commercial

The British royal family is arguably the most famous family in the world. And that means that there are definitely some rules bent when they try to integrate such a high-profile family in with the general public. Normally, the royals aren’t mixed in with the public with the exception of greeting people at royal engagements, however, the royals have also been known to fly commercial rather than private. And here’s what it takes to make sure the family is comfortable and safe.

Prince William Kate Middleton Prince George Princess Charlotte
Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince George, and Princess Charlotte | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are now flying commercial after recent backlash

Over the summer, Harry and Meghan received some major criticism from the public over flying in private jets too often. Since Harry and Meghan say they care greatly about the environment, people were quick to suggest that their private jets were damaging to the environment and contradicted their initiative. Plus, shortly after, Prince William and Kate Middleton were spotted flying commercial, which only led to even more criticism for Meghan and Harry. Since then, it is expected that the two will mostly fly commercial from now on, unless there is a safety risk or for some other reason.

The royals wait in specific airport lounges before boarding their plane

When the royals fly commercial, they definitely don’t wait in those mega long security lines and then sit in uncomfortable airport lounge seats like the rest of the public. Rather, they have their own private lounges, where their security and passport checks are done. According to CNN, at London Heathrow, where the royals typically fly from, there are Windsor suites; this is where the royal family sits and waits until they board the plane. The queen and her children wait in the royal lounge, though Harry and Meghan, since they aren’t direct heirs or close enough to the queen, would not have access to this lounge unless the queen allowed it.

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South Africa • After months of planning, Their Royal Highnesses, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived in South Africa today for their official Royal Tour of Southern Africa – focusing on community, grassroots leadership, women’s and girls’ rights, mental health, HIV/AIDS and the environment. Their first stop was to the incredible Justice Desk Project which works to make women and children safer in Nyanga. It’s an issue of vital importance in South Africa and across the globe, their Royal Highnesses wanted to learn first-hand about the issues people face and the work being done on the ground. One of the workshops Their Royal Highnesses saw was the Mbokodo project which provides self-defense classes and female empowerment workshops to young girls who are overcoming major traumas. This project's powerful motto is "wathint' abafazi wathint' imbokodo" which means "you strike a woman; you strike a rock" • “And just on one personal note, may I just say that while I am here with my husband as a member of The Royal Family, I want you to know that for me I am here with you as a mother, as a wife, as a woman, as a woman of colour and as your sister.” – The Duchess of Sussex • @TheJusticeDesk Project is supported by the @Queens_Commonwealth_Trust and works with community leaders in Nyanga, with the firm belief that if you can change the mindset of a community, you can change the mindset of a country. #SussexRoyalTour #RoyalVisitSouthAfrica • Photo ©️PA images / SussexRoyal – video SussexRoyal

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle flew commercial to South Africa after receiving backlash.

An airline might bring in a more experienced flight crew if the queen is flying

The airline will always know in advance if there is royalty on board. And, depending on which members of the royal family are flying, the protocol can change. One flight attendant told CNN that if the queen is flying, sometimes a more experienced flight crew will be brought in (a flight crew who has flown with the queen before) because they know exactly how to handle the situation. The cabin crew are allowed to speak to the royals, though sometimes, if the passenger is “high-security,” the crew might be told to avoid first class unless they are working the cabin.

The airline arranges for the royals to be driven to and from the plane

When the royals board a commercial plane, they don’t wait in line to have their tickets scanned like the rest of us. Rather, they wait in the lounge until boarding; then, they are driven to the plane to board either before or after the rest of the passengers (depending on their preference). From there, they usually avoid making it obvious who they are; they might put on headphones and a sleep mask. And royals are sometimes intentionally placed closest to the exit door, so they can be the first ones whisked off the plane when it lands.