In defense of Prince Harry’s Air New Zealand bumble, as the airline throws #SussexClass shade

Stuff reporter Brook Sabin offers up a defense of Prince Harry’s Air NZ comment.

Good afternoon, this is your captain speaking. We’re about to enter the most public family fight in history. And things are going to get bumpy.

Yes, that’s right. Air New Zealand has thrown itself into the boxing ring between Prince Harry and the Royal Family.

In one corner, we have the Windsors taking shelter in one of their many castles and/or palaces from the Sussexes, who are in the other corner throwing verbal grenades from across the Atlantic.

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And then, way down in the Pacific, we have the national carrier – busy finding lost bags – but not busy enough to poke fun at Meghan and Harry. It’s entered the ring with a friendly little uppercut.

It did this in the form of a five-word tweet, with two emojis, which cleverly questions whether Harry is telling porkies when he references Air NZ in his new book.

But I’m about to make a strong defense for Harry – and suggest that the national carrier might end up with a little bit of perfectly poached royal egg on its face.

Let’s rewind a bit here, in case you aren’t up to speed. Prince Harry’s new book Spare is being salivated over by critics looking for holes in his story.

Of course, New Zealand loves when we become involved in anything. As a nation, we collectively fume any time we’re left off a map. We are like the second-born child who never gets attention – we can at least sympathize with Harry over that. We are the Spare country.

Prince Harry's new book Spare is being salivated over by critics looking for holes in his story.

Michael Sohn/AP

Prince Harry’s new book Spare is being salivated over by critics looking for holes in his story.

So, we all get a bit excited when New Zealand gets mentioned on the world stage, even with a micro-controversy in Harry’s new book.

Let’s unpack it: Before Meghan and Harry’s fairytale wedding (we’re yet to see if the ‘happily ever after’ bit happens) there was the major brouhaha with Meghan’s father, Thomas Markle, who was caught posing for photos with paparazzi in Mexico.

Among the chaos, Harry reveals in his book a discussion with Thomas: “We told him, leave Mexico right now: A whole new level of harassment is about to rain down on you, so come to Britain. Now,” Harry wrote.

“Air New Zealand, first class, booked and paid for by Meg.”

Some people are quick to pull this apart, saying Air NZ has never flown from Mexico to the United Kingdom, and it doesn’t have first class.

Not to miss a chance for publicity, somebody at Air NZ must have had their heart racing as they pushed send on a Tweet throwing so much shade on Harry, he could have been in the shadow of Buckingham Palace.

“Introducing #SussexClass,” it wrote on its official Facebook and Twitter pages, referring to the couple’s titles, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, followed by an emoji of a crown.

Air New Zealand has entered the ring with a friendly little uppercut.


Air New Zealand has entered the ring with a friendly little uppercut.

“Apparently coming soon.”

Air NZ concluded the post with the “shifty eyes” emoji, which, according to Emojipedia, can be used to convey a “deceitful act”.

Back up the Airbus, Air NZ. On this occasion, I’m team Harry because I can understand how this may have unfolded.

Air NZ used to fly between Los Angeles and London, until the pandemic hit. Celebrities loved the Air NZ service; It was a welcome break from US and British carriers. The paparazzi would have also been all over the main carriers, so putting her dad on Air NZ would have made sense.

So, Meghan may have booked the tickets through Air NZ from Mexico to London. In this case, United Airlines (Air NZ’s Star Alliance partner) would have flown the Mexico to LA leg, while Air NZ would have done the trans-Atlantic service. This trip could they have all been booked and ticketed through Air NZ, giving the impression it was an Air NZ service all the way. In the middle of an international scandal, I imagine Meghan isn’t sitting there looking up codeshare flight numbers and wondering if it’s going to be an Air NZ plane or not.

Secondly, Meghan would have booked “Business Premier” which to someone who has no idea, sounds like it could be a premium version of Business. In other words, Air NZ’s version of first class.

If Air NZ had “Economy Premier”, for example, you’d assume this is premium economy. Adding Premier to the title does infer it’s not just the regular one, and it’s a step above.

So I can see how Harry thought the flight was Air NZ, and first class. I’m no Harry apologist, but there is no real hole in the story here.

If I were Harry, I’d probably reply to Air NZ: “Look forward to traveling Sussex Class – hope my bags make it.”

Air NZ needs a little bit of shade thrown right back at them.

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