The Prince and Princess of Wales, as they are now titled, were captured in cell phone pictures by a fellow traveler on the British Airways plane which landed on Wednesday afternoon in the Massachusetts city.
The images were shared by Tiffany Chan, a reporter at WBZ.
“FIRST GLIMPSE! Passengers on the British Airways flight to Boston said the Royal couple was ‘utterly delightful’. The Prince and Princess of Wales spoke briefly to the others in first class — explaining why they are coming to Boston,” she tweeted.
The choice of commercial air travel is hardly surprising considering the dire optics that would accompany a transatlantic private jet trip to hand out awards to people working to save the planet.
In 2019, the Prince of Wales’ brother, Prince Harry, was widely criticized for launching a sustainable tourism initiative weeks after taking multiple private jet flights. Last year, Harry and wife Meghan also flew private during a trip to New York to attend an event aimed at tackling the climate crisis.
While flying overall is hardly a climate-friendly pursuit, commercial air travel is better for the environment than private jets. A 2021 report from the European transport campaign group, Transport & Environment, found that private jets are five to 14 times more polluting than commercial planes, per passenger.
Then again, the carbon footprint of a first-class passenger is still much higher than traveling in economy (it’s all down to how much space your seat is allocated).
A recent analysis in The Guardian found that the emissions of a first-class passenger on a British Airways long-haul flight is about five and a half times that of an economy-class passenger. Earlier research, conducted by the World Bank in 2013, found that first-class travelers can have up to nine times the carbon footprint of those sitting back in economy.
BA and other airlines have pledged to become net-zero by 2050 and are investing in the development of more sustainable aviation fuel and zero emissions hydrogen-powered aircraft.
Passengers can also take part in off-setting for flights - which essentially aims to “neutralize” their proportion of an aircraft's emissions by investing in carbon-reduction projects like reforestation and renewables.
The Independent has contacted Kensington Palace to ask if the Royal couple and their team are using a carbon offsetting plan for their transatlantic flights.
William and Kate have not visited the US since 2014 when they attended events in New York City and Washington, DC.
The couple will attend an awards ceremony on Friday for the Earthshot environmental prize, founded by Prince William. They will also meet with Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and visit the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum where they will meet his daughter, Caroline Kennedy.
This is a breaking news article and is being updated