7 Ways to Practice Sustainability as a Frequent Flyer

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Air travel isn’t beneficial for the environment, but it’s sometimes necessary. Thankfully, commercial airliners are working to refine their former practices.

From switching to alternative fuels to building more efficient aircraft, companies are trying to reduce their emissions and make the world a little greener.

During this transition, there are eco-friendly strategies you can adopt to increase the sustainability of air travel. Here are seven methods to keep in mind.

1. Fly Nonstop

How can you reduce your emissions from flying? Fly less. You may not always be able to avoid it altogether, but you can plan out your travels so that you spend less time in the air.

If you choose nonstop flights over those with layovers, you don’t contribute to as much fuel consumption. Using connecting flights may be cheaper, but it also increases the distance you have to travel, using more fuel.

2. Pack Light

There’s a reason why airlines charge you extra for overweight luggage. The heavier a plane’s cargo, the more fuel it burns, costing money and producing more emissions. By packing less, you can help lighten the load and conserve fuel.

A straightforward way to help in this regard is packing in lighter suitcases. It also helps to only pack the essentials and to plan to do laundry at your destination, allowing you to pack fewer clothes.

3. Sit in Coach

Business-class seats may be more comfortable, but they’re also less sustainable. Business- and first-class seats have a much higher carbon footprint than economy seats. This difference is mainly due to the weight variation between the seat types and the space they take up.

Sitting in coach may not sound ideal, especially on longer flights, but it has more than one advantage. On top of decreasing your carbon footprint, you’ll also save a considerable amount of money.

4. Choose Sustainable Airlines

Some airlines take extra steps to reduce their environmental impact. An airline might use alternative fuels on some flights or use newer airplanes, which are more efficient. Many airlines are no longer offering hot towels or are making other small eco-friendly adjustments.

You can make your own changes to comply with these policies as well. For instance, you can ask an attendant to heat up a towel you brought in your carry-on to make up for the loss of luxury services. Most planes have a convection oven on board, providing a small-but-significant way to decrease your footprint.

5. Lower Your Window Shade

Lowering the shade on your window doesn’t cost you anything, and it can help conserve energy. Above the clouds, sunlight can often be harsh. This light coming in through the airplane windows can not only make it harder to see your screen, but it warms the cabin.

If you have a window seat, consider lowering your window shade. It’ll help keep the cabin cool so that the crew won’t have to turn up the air conditioning, using more energy.

6. Offset Your Carbon Footprint

Carbon offsets are programs that support sustainability causes to make up for something that could harm the environment. For example, a company could invest in a renewable energy initiative in return for a small fee. Many airlines offer options for purchasing carbon offsets along with your ticket.

Offsets are often inexpensive, so they’re an easy way to reduce your carbon footprint while flying. While these are only short-term solutions, it’s better for the environment than doing nothing.

7. Avoid Short Flights

Even though there are plenty of options that reduce environmental impact, aviation is still not an eco-friendly method of travel. While air travel may be unavoidable at times, you can try to reduce the amount you fly.

If you’re looking at a shorter domestic flight, consider using another form of public transportation instead. Trains and buses are often more eco-friendly travel options and may be cheaper and quicker.

Sustainability in the Long Run

The most sustainable behavior you can practice with regards to air travel is to stop flying altogether. However, this isn’t always an option if you need to travel long distances for an event. Thankfully, it’s easy, and often affordable, to adopt greener flying habits.

As protecting the environment becomes a broader concern — and technology develops — airlines will become more sustainable. Practicing green air travel behavior can help airlines transition into a more eco-friendly industry.