Fly More Sustainably: Easy to follow tips for your next trip


Whether it’s for business, leisure travel or visiting friends or family, travel by plane is sometimes unavoidable. However, it’s also true that we need to act now to combat climate change – and global air travel plays a significant role in this. Below, Res Marty, a former flight attendant, shares some sustainable flying tips that, by preparing ahead of time and being mindful of your choices can help make flying more green for us all.

Fly More Sustainably: Easy to follow tips for your next trip - Resmarty

Climate change is of course a complex issue that requires the cooperation of individuals, businesses, and governments to address effectively. While it is important for everyone to do their part to reduce their carbon footprint, the reality is that the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions come from large corporations. In fact, the top 100 companies in the world have been responsible for over 70% of all greenhouse gas emissions since 1988.

However, there are some things that individuals can do to help make a difference, and flying more sustainably is one of them. Let’s face it: We all know about the harmful environmental impact of the airline industry. For example, a Boeing 474 will burn roughly 150’000 liters (36’000 gallons) of kerosene on one single flight from London to Bangkok. New studies revealed global air travel contributes to around 4% of human-induced global warming. This figure may be surprisingly low for some people, but it is also true that nearly 90% of the worldwide population doesn’t fly. So it’s not an insignificant contribution. Additionally, there are complex non-co2-related factors such as emissions of water vapor; soot; sulfur aerosols; and water contrails that add to climate change in one way or another.

The good news is that there are numerous things we can do as travelers to reduce those impacts – whilst still enjoying our trips.

Things To Consider When Booking

Choose Airlines With Modern Fleets And Advanced Sustainability Programs

Airline fuel is one of the most significant cost contributors for all airlines. Therefore, they put a lot of pressure on airplane manufacturers to produce more fuel-efficient models. Did you know that modern jets can save up to 20-30% of carbon emissions compared to older airplanes?

You can often see during booking what aircraft type you’ll be flying on before you book. While the aircraft type can also change at short notice, it gives you an excellent first indication.

Of course, they will still not be nearly as eco-friendly as sustainable travel by train. However, on domestic flights, aircraft types like the Airbus A320/A321 NEO (new engine option) or the Boeing 737 Max, for example, are remarkably efficient, while tiny regional jets often use more fuel. Modern two-engine jets (like the Airbus A350 or Boeing 787) are better options for intercontinental routes. As an added benefit, these aircraft types often have higher passenger comfort for long flights.

Another aspect to consider is the airline’s sustainability programs. No airline can afford to ignore the challenges of climate change, but not all of them are making similar efforts in sustainability. Support the most sustainable airlines that take leading roles in catering responsibly (reduce or eliminate plastic on board, local catering, food waste), operation efficiency, and innovation. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Air France are good examples of sustainable aviation leaders. Interestingly enough, low-cost carriers such as easyJet or Wizz Air operate extremely fuel-efficient because they have a fleet of very modern and efficient aircraft models. Hence they are often rated in the top ranks of eco-friendly airlines.

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Before You Get to The Airport

Pack Lightweight

You might think it doesn’t make a difference, but if you and everybody else can reduce your luggage, it will make a difference. You can even save money, and airlines will reward their customers financially if you only travel with light luggage.

I completely get that packing lightweight is a bit trickier for adventurous travelers, but here are a few creative ideas you can consider:

  • Potentially rent equipment from local providers
  • Go for light-wight options where possible, especially for camping and outdoor equipment
  • Roll and vacuum pack your clothes, as it will help you to optimize your luggage space and pack valuables in your hand luggage.

Take Public Transportation to Get to The Airport

Most international airports are connected by either subway, airport train or local buses. They are not only often cheaper if you consider the parking costs but will also reduce your carbon footprint by a whopping 80% on average. In addition, there are many helpful apps like Omnio App to help you navigate around when you travel.

During The Flight

Choose A Vegetarian Meal

Reducing your meat consumption is one of the most impactful tips to lower your carbon footprint. Recent studies found that meat production accounts for nearly 60% of all greenhouse gases from food production. If you can start by substituting a few meals a week with a vegetarian option, that’s already a great beginning.

I always recommend pre-booking a special vegetarian meal, free up to three days before departure, on most airlines. As an extra bonus, most flight attendants serve the pre-ordered special meals before the regular service, so you will have more time to enjoy your meal. Also, you will no longer have to worry about not getting your preferred food if you are seated in the last rows of the cabin.

Donate For the Airlines Charity Program

Airline charity programs collect money for social projects, like building schools, houses, or waste projects. So, it is always a great idea to donate a small amount if you’re able. For example, I had the chance to visit a help project in Vietnam for blind children, together with my crew, as part of the airline’s inaugural flight to Ho-Chi-Ming City.

Our company founded the project in association with a local organization named Saigon Children and with the help of the donations collected on the flights. I was astonished by the courage and enthusiasm of these kids. To personally experience how motivated these kids were to learn to read and write braille, and even play an instrument was very inspiring. It made me confident that a positive social impact was achieved with this project.


About the author: Res is a blogger from Switzerland with years of experience in sustainable living. He aims to educate and motivate people to lead a more sustainable lifestyle by thinking outside the box.