Ways to choose more carbon-friendly flights

Commercial flying is a real carbon bomb as emissions from commercial aviation grow rapidly

U.S. domestic travelers could choose low-emission flights – if data was available.

Commercial flying is a real carbon bomb as emissions from commercial aviation are growing rapidly and are on track to triple by 2050.

However, a new study shows how people could reduce their emissions while still flying on airplanes, if they were able to choose the most carbon-friendly routes.

Researchers at the International Council on Clean Transportation analyzed carbon footprints of the 20 most popular US domestic plane routes in 2019.

According to The Guardian, it finds that on average, the least-emitting itinerary on a route can emit 63% less carbon dioxide than the most-emitting option, and 22% less than the route average.

In general, flying direct and on newer aircraft can help a consumer choose less-emitting flights, but not always, the researchers say.

The Guardian explains other variables, including load factor and seating configuration, also the affect of carbon intensity during a trip.

Single-aisle, mainline aircraft or turboprops generally have lower emissions than regional jets, although relative airline fuel efficiency performance varies across routes.

Some travel search engines like Google Flights, Kayak and Skyscanner have introduced “eco-flight filters” into their platforms, which label flights with lower than average emissions among all search results but, the absolute CO2 emissions for each itinerary are not currently shown.

That’s why researchers say making emissions data public would help consumers make informed decisions.

Researchers say policymakers could help by requiring that airlines disclose emissions by flight and requiring audits to ensure the accuracy of reported data.


About the Authors:

Roslyn Jimenez is a news producer for GMSA at KSAT12. Roslyn joined the KSAT12 team in January 2020 after being the First Edition producer for KIII-TV in Corpus Christi.

Sarah Acosta is a weekend Good Morning San Antonio anchor and a general assignments reporter at KSAT12. She joined the news team in April 2018 as a morning reporter for GMSA and is a native South Texan.