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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Royals on a shoestring: Air passengers stunned as Kate and Wills settle into budget Flybe seats, while Harry goes EasyJet

By Emily Allen

Weddings can be expensive occasions not just for the bride and groom - but for their guests too.

But it was perhaps surprising the learn that even three members of the Royal family were feeling the pinch this weekend when they chose budget airlines over private jets to make their way home from the wedding of Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall in Edinburgh.

Passengers were shocked to see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge settle into seats with the rest of the public after boarding a Flybe jet in Edinburgh for their hour long journey to Manchester.

It is understood they flew with body guards - but went through the usual check in and security procedures.

Meanwhile, a hungover Prince Harry chose EasyJet to make his way home to London - although it is not clear whether he landed at Stansted, Gatwick or Luton.

The 26-year-old army helicopter pilot also flew to the Scottish city with the airline - checking in his green army-issue bag for £10 - after paying around £16.50 for the flight.

Flying high: Many passengers were shocked to see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on board the Flybe flight to Manchester

News of the thrifty Royals will no doubt be welcome among taxpayers - millions of whom are struggling to make ends meet themselves with rising food and fuel prices as well as cuts to services.

During the recession the Queen urged her family to show restraint in the recession and to avoid overt displays of extravagance.

However, not all members of the Royal family are so purse-conscious.

Harry on a budget: The Prince arrives at the Palace of Holyroodhouse with his army-style bag after flying with EasyJet - his luggage label clearly on display

Prince Andrew - dubbed Airmiles Andy for his extravagant use of publicly funded travel - has a particular fondness for the Queen's helicopter which he uses to hop around in from engagement to engagement - at great expense.

Kate and William are understood to have sat with other passengers on their Flybe flight as the airline does not have a first class section.

They landed at Manchester because Prince William is based at Anglesey, where he carries out flying duties for the RAF and it is their nearest international airport.

Why pay more? Prince Harry flew with EasyJet to and from the wedding shunning his VIP lifestyle

The royal couple arrived at the airport at 7.40pm on Sunday after boarding Flybe flight BE298 - but they were quickly whisked off in a private car waiting for them on the airfield.

Flybe's one concession to extra luxury is Economy Plus where passengers are treated to complimentary drinks and snacks on board. Fares for the one way trip from Edinburgh start at £36.

One way flights from Edinburgh to Manchester with the airline start at £37.99.

Airport bosses spent £20,000 on a makeover for their Royal lounge.

Staff feared the exclusive haunt - the location of which is top secret - was lacking the wow factor and splashed out on a major refurbishment.

But they will have to wait a little longer to find out if it gets the Royal seal of approval - because the couple didn't enter the terminals this time.

A Manchester Airport spokesman said: 'With the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge living not too far away in North Wales, we were hoping to see them more often and become their local international airport of choice and we are looking forward to welcoming them through our doors over the coming years. We've even given our Royal Lounge a makeover in time for their next visit.'



If three Royals are happy to fly on a budget - maybe someone should have a word with Prince Andrew.

In May last year, the Duke Of York spent almost £5,000 on a helicopter jaunt to Silverstone – so he could race around the circuit in a Formula 1 car.

He chartered the Sikorsky S-76C to make a round trip of just 120 miles, despite the £4,700 bill. A first-class rail ticket, in contrast, would have cost £167.

In June 2009 he spent £2,000 on a helicopter flight so he could spend an hour at a party at one of his favourite golf courses.

He made a 226-mile round trip from Royal Lodge in Windsor to the exclusive Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club in Deal, Kent.

The cost of a return train ticket from Windsor to the golf club would have been just £30.70.

In October 2009 the prince flew himself to work in a £1,200-an-hour hired helicopter - with Buckingham Palace insisting it was the only way he could get through his six engagements.

In July 2008 the Duke went to the Farnborough International Airshow by helicopter - costing £6,000.

He left Kensington Palace in London and landed at Farnborough 15 minutes later and flew home four hours later.

Also that summer he spent £4,000 on a 146-mile helicopter trip to a number of official engagements in the same area

Buckingham Palace insists that all his travel details are arranged through the Royal Travel Office, which is independent of the Prince’s office.


A spokeswoman for Flybe said she was unable to confirm if the couple flew with the company because the airline 'respects the privacy' of all its passengers.

An EasyJet spokesman said it could not disclose the names of any passengers either. A one-way flight from Edinburgh to London costs from £26 depending on when you travel.

Zara, 30, and her new husband Mike Tindall left the Palace of Holyroodhouse on Sunday, following their wedding - but it is not clear how they made their way home.

England rugby player Mike Tindall and his new bride Zara Phillips leave their wedding ceremony - many guests including three Royals travelled on budget airlines



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