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All You Need to Know About Eco Flights

When it comes to travel, flying is an ideal way to get from A to B. Choosing eco-friendly flights with airlines committed to making changes can help reduce your carbon footprint. Keep reading for what you need to know about eco-friendly air travel before your next vacation.

What Are Eco Flights?

Ever wonder what that green leaf icon is that sometimes comes up when you’re searching for flights? That’s a sign it’s a more eco-friendly flight.

Here’s the deal: Eco flights are airfares that have a lower impact on our environment. There’s no denying the fact that planes send an immense amount of carbon dioxide (CO₂) into the air. Just take a look at Flightradar24 and you’ll see how many planes are in the air at any given moment. That’s a lot of fuel burning and CO₂ being pumped into the atmosphere.

But not all planes are the same. Some aircraft burn less than others, which make them a smarter choice when booking flights for your next trip. We’ve done the research on environmentally-friendly flights and here’s what we’ve found.

drone shot of the shores of Carmel by the Sea during the day
Choose an eco-friendly destination for your next trip

How Are Flight Emissions Calculated?

When sourcing the best environmentally-friendly flights, first we take the aircraft itself into consideration. Does it have a fuel-efficient engine or other modifications to reduce CO₂ into the air?

Next, we look at the flight distance, seating capacity, and altitude cruising time. Take off and landing requires the most fuel and energy, which makes direct flights a better, greener choice.

Are Eco Flights More Expensive?

As a result of our findings, we mark flights with less than average CO₂ emissions as a more eco-friendly flight, so you can book your flight based on this knowledge.

Flight prices, like hotel rates, are fluid; meaning they fluctuate depending on the season and the demand. Depending on the airline, you might find that eco-friendly flights are the same, or sometimes even less than the standard flight price.

Which Airlines Offer Eco Flights?

Finding an eco-friendly airline is becoming easier as more airlines get on board to reduce their carbon footprint. German environment crusaders, Atmosfair ranks the world’s top 200 airlines based on their CO₂ efficiency. According to their report unveiled at the UNFCCC Climate Change Conference in 2018, airlines with new or updated aircraft such as the Boeing 787-9 and Airbus A350-900 are leading the way in eco flights.

You may be surprised to learn that low-cost airlines are often more eco-friendly than larger airlines. One big reason is because of their capacity: they get more passengers in the cabin due to low fares and cozier seating. In Canada, Air Transat and Flair will regularly be featured as green choice options. In Europe, Tui Airways (UK) and TUIfly (Germany) top the most eco-friendly airlines, and in China, regional airline China West Air is doing its part to reduce emissions.

Go paperless for a more eco-friendly flight

Environmentally friendly flights are about more than carbon emissions. Airlines like Air Canada, Qantas, and American Airlines are committed to paperless and or eliminating single-use plastics on their flights.

Making news in June 2019 was United’s eco-friendly flight aptly named, ‘The Flight for the Planet’, which departed Chicago for Los Angeles in honour of World Environment Day. The journey was dubbed “the most eco-friendly” flight in aviation history for its sustainable aviation biofuel; zero cabin waste; carbon offsetting; and operational efficiencies. United Airlines has used bio-fuel since 2016 for all flights departing its “eco-hub” at LAX.

For more information on eco-friendly flights, check out our page here.

What Are Carbon Offsets?

It’s possible to offset your carbon emissions during the flight booking process, so check for any prompts when you’re searching and booking your flight. A carbon offset can make your flight more eco-friendly. How? Because the fee you invest in a carbon offset will go towards funding projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Examples include forest restoration projects around the world, and investing in factories to function in more energy-efficient ways. Read more about carbon offsets here.

Some tips for travelling green on your next flight

If you want to commit to more environmentally-friendly travel this year, there’s always plenty you can do! Here are some tips:

  • Choose green, eco-friendly airlines when available
  • Fly economy and take up less space
  • Book direct flights
  • Why not try pre-ordering a vegetarian meal for your flight? #eatlessmeat
  • Travel with a reusable, non-plastic water bottle and coffee cup
  • Travel to an eco-friendly destination
  • Pack light

Searching for Eco-Friendly Flights

When looking for environmentally-friendly flights, keep watch for the green banner above the airfare that says, “Greener Choice”. This banner will also tell you how many fewer emissions the fare will omit.

Going somewhere? See if your favourite flight route offers an eco flight option! Use our flight search engine below for flights going everywhere.