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Prince William and Kate Middleton Get $300 Refund

I’m no stranger to malfunctioning entertainment equipment on airplanes. Most of my flights are five-hour-long trips across country, and though I’d like to use that time to read or write, I’m usually not motivated to focus much in the confined space. I find myself preferring to listen to music or watch television when it’s available. On several occasions, my in-flight entertainment did not work right. Since I travel in economy coach class, the entertainment in almost always an additional cost. If the system is not working properly, I can opt to not buy the add-on service.

The situation is different for different travelers, apparently. If you are the royal family and you’re traveling in first class, the rules are different. Prince William and Kate Middleton experienced trouble with their entertainment system on a British Airways $8,000 per seat first-class flight from Los Angeles to London. Not that they need the money, British Airways was kind enough to refund the Royal Couple $300 for the inconvenience.

The refund is a bit excessive. $300 could pay for cable for at least six months in the United States. I’m not sure how the airline determined the couple’s suffering was worth this much, but I’d be happy with a refund of half that if my entertainment options malfunctioned for a ten-hour flight.

Is there any situation where a $300 refund for a malfunctioning entertainment system for as long as ten hours is warranted? Does it cost the airline more to deliver entertainment to first class than to economy? Even if every seat in first class were to have its own 3D HDTV, the refund is excessive. What would be an appropriate refund? On Continental, the price for in-flight entertainment is about $5 per seat. That seems like an appropriate refund amount.

Updated November 2, 2016 and originally published July 26, 2011.

About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of shizennougyou. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Bobka

I agree that $5 is about right for everyday people. However, the royals represent Britain and British Airways wants to keep them happy. Rather than a refund, in this case one should consider the $300 a small political goodwill contribution.

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avatar 2 Anonymous

I got $15 from Jet Blue for a similar problem. I hadn’t noticed since I was reading a book,but it was a nice gesture.

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avatar 3 Anonymous

Airline customer care representatives seem to have an arbitrary system for assigning refunds or other compensation to customers who have experienced “issues” with their flights.

I was recently stranded in Detroit after Delta failed to properly schedule a co-pilot for one of my flights resulting in me missing my connecting flight to Maine.

I went back and forth to attempt “fair” compensation for my troubles, but in the end I was only given 9,500 frequent flyer “bonus” miles.

It literally turned into a negotiation process. In my final letter to them, I told Delta that they should be ashamed of themselves for treating service failures as a game, and not an opportunity to recover from treating a customer poorly.

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avatar 4 Anonymous

$300 for positive PR, and world wide exposure = AMAZING marketing deal.

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avatar 5 shellye

Agreed. They seem like a nice couple, so perhaps they’ll donate it to one of their favorite charities.

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avatar 6 lynn

I agree that the couple appear to be on the right track serving their country. They could have taken a private plane, but chose a carrier. The 300.00 could go as a contribution or back into the coffers.

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avatar 7 Anonymous

$300 for the couple = $150 per person. At $8,000 per seat, that works out to 1.875% of the cost of the ticket. For a Continental flight — do not know your fare — $5 on a $300 ticket is 1.667%. $15 on a Jet Blue flight would be aligned with the percentage received by the Royal Couple. On a percentage basis, I do not see an issue. Plus, if you are going to pay $8,000 for a 10 hour flight ($800/hour), the experience better be flawless.

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avatar 8 Luke Landes

First of all, if an airline charged the first class passengers to watch television, as they often do for economy class passengers, do you really think they’d charge $150 a seat? No. $150 is not the cost of providing a television to a seat in first class. The percentage argument doesn’t make any sense. It’s a standard cost across all seats. Even if the entertainment system is nicer in first class, it’s not $145 nicer. If percentages were relevant, a meal that costs $15 in the economy cabin would cost $450 in first class.

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avatar 9 lynn

Good point, Flexo

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avatar 10 Anonymous

The cost of the meal, television, etc., is built into the $8000 price ticket. Maybe they’ve broken down internally how they arrive at the $8000 figure, maybe they haven’t. But it’s not beyond comprehension that the airline values the in-flight entertainment system at $450 per seat. I can’t fathom how people would pay that much money for first-class anyway, so I’d believe anything. A wide seat alone can’t be worth $7k, can it?

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avatar 11 lynn

Maybe the 7000 seat for a transatlantic flight is worth it? I’m not sure if the planes are bigger than the hoppers I take down the coast.

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avatar 12 Anonymous

Also, there are airlines that charge for television? This is why domestically I only fly JetBlue.

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avatar 13 Anonymous

You are mixing price and cost, and they are not tied together. Do you really think the operational cost of an $8,000 seat is appreciably different than a $300 seat? Sure you may have a higher attendant-to-passenger ration and built-in costs for food and drink, but what else? What exactly are you paying for that justifies the $7,700 difference? The experience.

I do not understand your argument because you focus on cost. I recently had a poor experience at a coffee chain and my $4 drink was not to the standard of a $4 drink (only 2/3 full). Rather than refund me the $4, the company provided a $6 gift card. The “cost” of the drink is probably less than $1, but they gave me back what I paid and plus 50%. Companies want to retain their most profitable customers. Those customers happen to be in first class. People like you and I are only “valuable” to airlines if we have loyalty to their program, otherwise we are part of their marginal profit. One could argue that passengers like you and I may even be loss leaders.

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avatar 14 Luke Landes

Fair enough… the $300 refund is the cost of keeping the Royal Couple happy, and a $5 refund would be the cost of keeping me happy (apparently). The $300 refund is excessive no matter how you look at it. Do other first class passengers on BA receive this refund if their entertainment system malfunctions? Would the couple have been fine with a smaller refund? Or no refund at all? Did they even ask for a refund?

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avatar 15 skylog

i have no idea, but maybe that is the cost for their meal? i usually agree with most of your points, but in this case i tend to agree with the percentage argument.

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avatar 16 Ceecee

They did pay 8,000 for the tickets, which seems like a lot to me, although I don’t fly often. Are we still surprised that the wealthy and famous get better perks? Probably not.

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avatar 17 ib

Well, now British Airways is in the news for it so they got publicity out of it. Maybe it was very shrewd of them?!!? May not have made news otherwise….

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avatar 18 Anonymous

It wasn’t only the royal couple impacted or given the refund. So it wasn’t a matter of just bribing the royals for good PR. The malfunction impacted several 1st class passengers and British Airways offered 200 pound vouchers or free frequent flier miles to every impacted customer. I doubt they did anything to calculate the cost or thought much about the amount of money to offer. Since they gave vouchers it is probable that was just a ‘one size fits all solution’ to making customers happy. The 200 pound vouchers are what they have and therefore what they offered. I think that 200 pound vouchers is a realistic appeasement for an inconvenience during a 5000 pound ticket. If I pay 5000 pounds for a ticket I’d expect things to go well and if they don’t, I’d scoff at a $15 voucher.

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avatar 19 Donna Freedman

I paid $611 plus fees (total: $834) to fly from Seattle to London last February. I usually just read during flights but these suckers were l-o-n-g (13 hours there and 15 hours coming back). At home I don’t even have a TV but wound up watching about three hours’ worth of the program “Bones” and the movie “Red.”
That plus reading did help the time pass. Would I have been disconsolate without the video? Probably not. Wonder what they would have offered us back in steerage class if our monitors malfunctioned? I bet it wouldn’t be $300.

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avatar 20 Cejay

Hope the donate it to charity. I would say about $15.00 to $20,00 at the most would be a fair compensation. But as everyone has said that have gotten great PR and this makes them seem to be a fair airline. A laughing matter in my opinion.

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avatar 21 lynn

: ‘Fair Airline’ = oxymoron

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avatar 22 qixx

So long as everyone impacted was given the same $300 refund i have no problem with this. It is not news that the guy sitting next to the royal couple got a $150 refund. So i don’t care that the royal couple got so much in their refund. I just hope my next flight problem is on British Airways as they pay much more for problems than Southwest.

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