"We have a first-hand account that a wife of Interior minister Prince Naif attempted to board a Saudia flight with 12 companions, all expecting to travel for free," the authors of the cables write, only to be told "to her outrage" that the new rules meant she could only take two free guests. Prince Mishal bin Majid bin Abdulaziz had taken to driving between Jeddah and Riyadh "to show his annoyance" at the reforms, according to the cable.
But some of the biggest handouts over the past two decades have gone to his own extended family, according to unpublished American diplomatic cables dating back to 1996.
The second tier included senior princes who regularly asked for loans.
"The bank insists that such loans be 100 percent collateralized by deposits in other accounts at the bank," the cable reports.
"The banker noted that it was the brazenness of the letter ...
that was particularly egregious." Another senior royal was famous for "throwing fences up around vast stretches of government land." The confiscation of land extends to businesses as well, the cable notes.