Green Flights: Is it Possible?

Earlier this week, I published the Find Cheap Airline Tickets Cheat Sheet. As what usually happens when we mention anything related to airplanes, we get some criticism.

“Aren’t you green?” “Don’t you care about the environment?” “Flying is terrible.”

Yes, we agree that planes are the worst mode of transportation when it comes to their environmental impact. In fact we’ve written a lot about this including about how Airplane Air is Toxic, Principles for Choosing Green Transportation, and a Guide to Carbon Offsets.

So, this begs the question, are there green flights?

Green Flights

photo credit: Lara604

Sadly, there aren’t. At least not right now. Perhaps in the future there will be green flights. It would be great to be able to fly all over the world without having a major impact on the environment. But, right now, there’s no such thing as a green flight.

So the best thing to do to make your flight more eco friendly is to:

Take a Non Stop Flight: When you take a non stop flight you’re using less fuel and thus there are fewer carbon offsets – this all leads to greener flights. (Check out our posts about the best search engines for non stop flights and our post about how non stop flights have up to 50% less carbon offsets)

Use Electronic Tickets: When you use a completely electronic ticket — eg on your PDA/Smart phone, you’re getting rid of all paper waste. Here’s an interesting article from the LA times about electronic tickets.

Search for Tickets Using Search Green Travel: With Search Green Travel you use Kayak to search, but we donate 50% of profits to environmental organizations.

Bring a Water Bottle: Don’t buy bottled water before boarding the plane. To have green flights we must stop drinking bottled water. If your looking for a new water bottle check out our smackdown of stainless steel water bottles to help you choose the best one.

What other tips do you have for green flights?


  1. By on

    Hi Elizabeth, I love reading your posts and I totally agree with you about flying but as you stated some airlines are slowly changing. This month American Airlines started testing their Paris-Miami flight utilizing what they call NextGen technology. Through these type of programs AA has a goal to save 120 million gallons of jet fuel and also reduce carbon emissions by 2.5 billion pounds this year alone. Agreed, our environment would be better if we all biked but sometimes that is just not practical. So, keeping reality in check I say “Hats off to American Airlines” and hope other airlines join them ASAP. The link from Rueters is

  2. By Wendy Marti on

    Has anyone successfully brought a reusable bottle on a plane? I’d like to check to make sure an empty bottle is permitted through security before risking having it confiscated. I know they take away plastic ones filled or empty (unless this has changed recently).

    Once you take it through security do you just refill it in the airplane bathroom?


  3. By Elizabeth on

    @ Wendy — Yes, I’ve successfully brought a reusable bottle on a plane (through security) every time I’ve traveled. (Which is a lot). Occasionally security will ask to look inside the bottle, and even if you’ve accidentally left water in it (happened to me a few times) you can just dump out the water in the trash can and still take the bottle through.

  4. By on

    It really is a shame that flying is so bad for the environment. For traveling across continents though, nothing even comes close the covenience and price. Elevate Destinations is a sustainable travel company that buys carbon offsets for all of their trips, which I think is the best option when traveling a huge distance.

    As far as water bottles, I completely agree. I bring my sigg with me everywhere, including on flights and have never had a problem. I’ve even brought it through security completely filled with water and no one so much as blinked an eye.

  5. By Elizabeth on

    @Emma – I agree that carbon offsets can be a good option for traveling a huge distance. Watch for our best carbon offets companies post — coming soon!

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