The airplane is probably one of the greatest inventions of mankind. After all, flying allows us to cover long distances in a very short time. A few decades ago, travelling across the great oceans of the world was only possible for the “average Joe” by ship. Here, you were sometimes travelling for weeks until you finally arrived at your destination. But as comfortable and time-saving as flying may be, it naturally also has its downsides. It is considered extremely harmful to the environment. On average, a passenger aircraft uses about four litres of paraffin per passenger for a distance of 100 km.
On long-haul flights, this can lead to gigantic CO₂ pollution. But some people cannot do without flights. Often there are professional reasons behind it. However, nowadays, if you want to avoid an overly large ecological footprint, you can also fly sustainably. This is usually achieved by offsetting the pollution caused. Today we want to take a closer look at the possibilities.
How bad is flying for the environment?
Air traffic has increased immensely in recent decades. The sheer mass of passenger planes that fly through the skies every day also makes it clear that flying is becoming more and more affordable. Naturally, people who want to travel prefer to buy a plane ticket when they have to cover a long distance. After all, they can save valuable hours that they would rather spend at their holiday destination. But how bad is flying by plane really for the environment? As is often the case, a look at the statistics can help. According to experts, tourist air travel is responsible for about five percent of global CO₂ emissions. At first glance, that may not sound like much.
However, we need to take a closer look. From a global perspective, flying is still a luxury means of travel that by no means every citizen of the world can afford. Only about eleven percent of the world’s population has the pleasure of travelling by plane each year. Consequently, if all people were to fly by air at least once a year, this could increase greenhouse gas pollution tenfold. Surprisingly, one has to clearly differentiate between different classes of passengers. Since passengers in first or business class take up more space on the plane, they also represent a greater burden on the environment.
You are stuck at the airport because of a flight delay? Your flight has been canceled or you have been removed from the passenger list?
We enforce your refund and compensation!
With us you can check your claims free of charge in two minutes. You can receive up to 600 euros compensation per person (minus commission fee).
When did the airline inform you about the flight cancellation / flight rebooking?
On the day of the flight/less than 14 days before or More than 14 days before departure
Have you also been affected by an overbooking, flight delay or a missed connection flight? Check your flight now. Simple ✔ fast ✔ & no risk ✔
Is a plane more environmentally friendly than a car?
But is the bad reputation of the airplane justified? Are frequent flyers such polluters? We took a closer look and wanted to compare the airplane with the car. Which vehicle is more harmful to the environment? This is what the Federal Environment Agency has analyzed. The agency had a closer look at one example. They had a look at a typical flight from Germany to the beautiful Maldives. According to the agency’s calculations, an average passenger on a flight covering a distance of 16,000 km causes a serious amount of five tonnes of CO₂. To make a comparison, the analysts compared how many kilometers with five tonnes of CO₂ emissions would be possible for an average car with an internal combustion engine. The result is astounding and makes it clear that a plane is much more harmful than a car.
It is possible to travel almost 25,000 km in a car with the same environmental impact. The non-profit organization “Germanwatch” has underlined this with its study. For example, the staff made it clear that a medium-haul flight to Tenerife and back is equivalent to the environmental impact of one year of driving a car. One does not even want to make a comparison with modern electric cars. If you supply them with electricity from renewable sources, they do not have any impact on the environment, at least when they are running. Nevertheless, for many, there is no alternative to using the airplane as a means of transport. As a result, one should look for ways to make flying environmentally friendly and sustainable.
Is it possible to fly in an environmentally friendly way?
Of course, it would probably be easiest if you made it your mission to never fly again. But who would want to do that? There is a certain spirit of discovery in all of us that wants to explore every little corner of the earth. And that is also important! After all, travel also serves to promote mutual understanding between people. When you travel to remote parts of the world, you can often encounter more than just beautiful natural phenomena or sights. On top of that, travelling also allows us to get to know other cultures. So the question of how to make flying more sustainable is much more important. We have put together a few tips that make it clear that you can get on a plane without a guilty conscience.
How can I fly climate-neutrally?
With a few rules of conduct, you too can make sure that your flight is not too costly for future generations.
- Economy Class is enough
Anyone who has ever taken a long-haul flight in economy knows that the longer the journey, the more it can be a real test of patience for body and soul. The limited legroom in particular makes many passengers count the minutes until landing. Those who have the necessary small change or find a good offer, therefore, prefer to take a seat in business or even first class. Here, for the sake of the environment, you should prefer a smaller seat and opt for the economy class ticket. The reason for this is obvious. Since one seat in business class takes up about as much space as two seats in economy class, the CO₂ emissions you emit on a flight increase, at least indirectly. In First Class, the factor is as high as three.
- CO₂ compensation
Regardless of whether you fly economy, business or first class. For the environment it is sometimes more, sometimes less of a burden. But this can also be offset. There are now several portals that have made it their business to compensate for your flights. Of course, this does not immediately reduce your ecological footprint. Nevertheless, you can have a clear conscience because you have done something good for the environment. Suppliers such as myclimate, for example, provide financial support for valuable environmental protection projects. In this way, the kilometres flown by plane can be reduced somewhat.
- Less is more
To not only make packing as relaxed as possible, but also to do something good for the environment, you can do without unnecessary luggage. After all, every extra kilogram on board an aircraft also means correspondingly higher fuel consumption. If possible, you might even manage to fit the bare essentials into your hand luggage. Then you can not only be sure that you will have less impact on the environment. On top of that, travelling without a large suitcase is usually more relaxed.
- Fly with the right airline
When it comes to environmental pollution, it is important to remember that not all airlines are the same. Quite the opposite. The choice of the aircraft type in particular can have a considerable influence on how much fuel is released into the atmosphere. Accordingly, some airlines sometimes have significant differences in the burden on the ecosystem despite the same travel route. As a rule, modern aircraft use more efficient engines and thus consume less paraffin per kilometre. However, not only the type of aircraft itself, but also the seating arrangement in the interior is of great importance. Even though it may be comfortable, a large amount of legroom invariably means higher CO₂ emissions per passenger.
Should you give up flying for the sake of the environment?
The negative consequences for the environment can quickly take away the desire to fly. But should you, therefore, give up air travel? We don’t think you have to give up flying altogether. However, there is nothing to be said against limiting yourself a little. After all, for the sake of the environment, one likes to take the bicycle to the bakery around the corner instead of getting into the car. A similar mindset cannot harm when it comes to flying. If possible, you should avoid short-haul flights if you are not pressed for time. Here, a train is an environmentally friendly alternative. For long-distance journeys, on the other hand, there is almost no alternative to flying. To get to know foreign cultures, you can accept this if you compensate and follow our other tips.
Are direct flights more environmentally friendly?
If you want to plan your travel route in a way that is a little less harmful to the environment, you should opt for direct flights if possible. The reason for this is obvious. Many litres of paraffin are burnt to accelerate an aircraft weighing many tonnes to take-off speed. The same applies to braking on landing. Consequently, it is these two processes that consume the most fuel when flying. So with only one flight, you minimize them.
When will flying become environmentally friendly?
The great success of electromobility in the field of automobiles and bicycles has of course not bypassed the aviation industry. Accordingly, environmentally friendly alternatives to the combustion engine in aircraft are currently being developed at full speed. There are many ideas, but no common denominator yet. Scientists have already developed powerful engines based on hydrogen or electrical technology. The use of synthetically produced paraffin or even biokerosene is also conceivable. The latter will probably be used as a so-called bridging technology.
Environmentally friendly flying – our tips
Flying does not necessarily have to be an environmental sin. There are ways to keep the negative impact of the greenhouse effect in check. We have listed the four most important ways for you.
1. Fly economy class if possible
We know that flying economy class is uncomfortable. But while your knees are pressing against the seat in front of you, and you’re feeling pain, remember that your choice of seat hasn’t just saved you money. You are also less of a burden on the environment than other passengers in business or first class.
2. Offset flights
Another way to minimize your ecological footprint despite flying is CO₂ compensation. There are now many exciting ways to minimize the negative impact of a flight by donating to environmental protection projects worldwide. This way, your conscience is at least a little better when you travel by air.
3. Take only the most essential luggage with you
It is not only the sheer weight of the aircraft and the passengers that cause the immense paraffin consumption of an aircraft. Of course, the luggage also weighs a lot. If you reduce the weight on board, you will also reduce the amount of fuel consumed. A checklist written well in advance with all the things you need on holiday can help you to take as little as possible with you. Perhaps even your hand luggage will suffice.
4. The airline makes the difference
Don’t just find out in advance which airline offers the cheapest tickets. Other facts are also important if you want to actively do something about the environmental impact of your trip. What airplane model does the airline use? How many passengers can be accommodated on the plane? These and other questions can help you find out how environmentally damaging your journey is.
How can Flightright help you?
You are stuck at the airport because of a flight delay? Your flight has been canceled, or you have been removed from the passenger list? In each of the situations described, you have a right to compensation as an air passenger.
According to the EU Passenger Rights Regulation, passengers are entitled to compensation in the event of a delay, cancellation, overbooking, or missed connection. You can claim up to 600 euros of compensation per person (minus commission fee). This compensation is independent of the ticket price. Flightright enforces your right for you. If necessary also in court.
As experts on the subject of air passenger rights, we enforce your right to compensation against the airline! Flightright’s air passenger rights experts are also happy to help you with ticket reimbursements