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Help save the planet – insist on flying in economy class

June 25, 2013 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Flying first class damages the environment far more than sitting in economy class, new research shows.

A research paper, painstakingly prepared by a duo of academics commissioned by the World Bank, says that first class service produces a carbon footprint over nine times larger than that produced by the average economy class passenger.

Researchers Heinrich Bofinger and Jon Strand found that business class flyers made a carbon footprint about three times the 250x250pxsize of their counterparts in economy class. The disparity worsened if some of the seats in the more expensive classes were left empty.

In short, bigger seats mean that fewer people fit into a section of the plane. Fewer people result in more fuel being burnt per passenger to propel the aircraft to its destination.

Additionally, passengers travelling in high-yield classes are likely to take more baggage with them, further increasing the weight of the plane and thus requiring it to burn yet more fuel.

For those with plenty of time to spare, you can download the paper here.

Of course, it’s possible to take the argument further than economy class. Not flying at all is, presumably, more eco-friendly than flying in any class. Similarly, travelling by rowboat, goat-cart or on the back of a donkey would have less environmental impact than flying. People are likely to want to continue to travel, however. Time dictates that they may prefer the faster options, and economics (along with human nature) suggests that those able to afford it may choose to travel in style and comfort.

Commenting on the researchers’ findings, Britain’s Daily Mail cited a Washington Post study which pointed out that employees at World Bank headquarters in Washington made around 189,000 trips in 2009, clocking up 447 million miles.

About 73.6% of those flights were in business class, while another 6.9% were in first class. First class travel has been cut back since, the paper said.

Written by : Peter Needham

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