8 tips for reducing the impact of your air travel

Air travel has a long journey ahead to become sustainable, but there are actions we can all take to minimise the impact of our travel choices while the industry works to create more sustainable options.

1. Choose direct flights where possible 

Usually, the most carbon-intensive part of a plane’s journey is take-off and landing.* That means, by travelling on a direct flight, you’re more likely to reduce the carbon impact of your flight. (You can learn more here.) 

Of course, there are instances where indirect flights produce lower CO2 than a direct flight. For this to be the case, the planes would have to be new, while the direct flight uses an older aircraft. 

We help travellers see lower-emissions flights by highlighting in our search results the flights which have emissions at least 6% lower than a typical flight on the same route. A ‘typical’ flight represents a median across all dates and available flights for that rout

2. Read about your airline’s sustainability initiatives 

See what steps your airline is taking towards more sustainable flying. Have they set targets to reduce their emissions? Have they been accredited by an external source to verify their claims?  

A good example is seeing if their emissions targets have been submitted and verified with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). The initiative defines and promotes best practice in science-based target setting to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement of keeping global warming well below 2°C and striving to limit warming to 1.5°C above pre-Industrial levels. 

3. Combine your trips 

Why not increase the duration of your stay and spend more time exploring? Once at your destination, you could get around by train or public transport, on the back of a tuk-tuk or by hiring an electric car. 

By combining several short trips into one longer trip, you’ll enjoy more time away, with potentially fewer overall emissions. 

4. Fly economy over business or first class 

Did you know that flying business class is about 3x more carbon intensive than flying economy, according to a World Bank study?** This is because of the amount of space it takes up on the aircraft, and more emissions are therefore apportioned to the individual.

5. Choose a lower-emitting flight 

Skyscanner uses the Travel Impact Model to show travellers searching on our platforms which flights are lower emitting than others on any given route.  

Factors which make up the Travel Impact Model include the number of stops, the aircraft’s capacity and aircraft type. Newer types of aircraft can be up to 20% more fuel efficient than the models they replace.***  

Travellers searching on Skyscanner can now select the filter to only see the flights which have lower emissions on their chosen route.

6. Reduce the weight of your luggage 

Most people don’t use everything they bring with them on holiday. In fact, around a third don’t use 25% of what’s in their suitcase.  

But the more a plane weighs, the more fuel it burns, and the more emissions are generated, so even removing one pair of shoes can reduce the carbon emissions of your flight by about 2.5kgs CO2, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.**** 

7. Consider purchasing Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) 

You can compensate for some of your emissions while travelling by purchasing SAF or choosing to offset your emissions in another way. Many airlines now offer this as part of their booking process, or you can buy directly from our partners at SkyNRG here

8. Recycle on board 

Many airlines are improving their waste management practices by reducing their single-use plastics and replacing them with more sustainable alternatives such as wooden cutlery, as well as separating and recycling waste. You can look for flights with lower CO2 emissions in a flight search results page or tick the ‘Flight emissions’ filter to only see flights with lower CO2.

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