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How does the Royal Family fly?

Sept. 13, 2020
6 min read
How does the Royal Family fly?
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The royal family travels all around the world — in particular to some of the 53 sovereign states that make up the Commonwealth of Nations that include destinations like Antigua and Barbuda, Vanuatu and The Gambia.

But how do they do so?

The Queen herself does not travel on scheduled flights, but instead has chartered British Airways planes for official business numerous times before. For example, in 2011 she chartered a British Airways Boeing 777 for her journey to Australia for an 11-day tour with the Duke of Edinburgh and has also chartered the famous Concorde aircraft in the past.

(Photo by SRA JERRY WILSON / Wikimedia)

She can also charter military or government aircraft as she pleases, such as the specially converted Airbus A330 operated by the RAF. That aircraft is often used for flying the British Prime Minister and other senior government officials and is outfitted with familiar-looking staggered business class seats with direct aisle access.

RAF Airbus A330 Voyager at RAF Brize Norton. (Photo by Steve Lympany/Flickr)

In fact, there is also a squadron of the Royal Air Force officially known as the No. 32 (The Royal) Squadron, but more commonly known as The Queen's Flight. It flies BAe 146 jets and an Agusta Westland AW109 helicopter, all outfitted with VIP interiors. They are, however, used only for short-range travel; long-haul flights require other aircraft. As the RAF's VIP transport unit, it also flies government officials.

The Royal Household also has a Sikorsky S-76C++ helicopter, but as it is not a military aircraft, it bears the civilian registration G-XXEB.

Queen Elizabeth has reduced Commonwealth visits significantly in recent years (she is in her 90s, after all), with her children and grandchildren performing these duties in her place.

The rest of the Royal Family does fly commercial. Prince William has even flown ultra-low-cost Ryanair to Scotland before. Former Royals Prince Harry and Meghan Markle once flew British Airways Economy from London to Nic, and the duo was also spotted in Club Europe on a flight from Rome to London.

As the flag carrier of the United Kingdom, it's not surprising that British Airways is the airline of choice for the royal family. The Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton has a special connection with the airline — her mother was a flight attendant for the airline.

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Some other members of the Royal Family have flown on private jets before, but they must be traveling for official business in order to receive this benefit, and it is not guaranteed. The Queen reportedly sets a travel budget for the entire family each year, as these are taxpayer funds being used and costs can add up to millions of dollars each year.

Prince Charles chartered a luxury converted A320-232 from Masterjet in Paris for an official USA tour in 2015. The plane was configured for just 26 passengers and included a full-size bed and shower.

(Photo courtesy Masterjet)
(Photo courtesy Masterjet)

Royal protocol dictates that two heirs to the British throne should not travel together. This rule has been relaxed with permission from the Queen for Prince William and his children, given the complexity of forcing small children to travel apart from their father.

Queen Elizabeth is the only royal family member who does not need a passport to travel abroad because all UK passports are issued in her name already. Her identity is still checked when she departs and arrives in any country despite being one of the most famous faces in the world.

Featured image by Getty Images

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  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
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  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
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Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more