Green Travelers Fly Coach

19 June 2009

In an effort to save our oceans, we need to realize that oceans, earth and sky are all interconnected in one big bubble. This article came from and I think it's a worthy read. One of my best friends uses recyclable shopping bags, yet refuses the idea of coach. Hmmm....

Sure, flying isn’t always on the top of every tree hugger’s list, but if you love to travel, it’s hard to avoid the convenience of jet-setting. Grabbing a cheap flight and hopping on a plane gets a bad wrap in the eyes of green groups, but for individuals intent on seeing the world, there are ways to achieve a happy medium of green travel.
The Union of Concerned Scientists have put together a summary of how to fly while keeping your conscience clean and green. The bottom line: You can bump up your green travel by flying coach rather than flying first class.
According to the scientists, since first class seating takes up more room than coach, your carbon footprint is technically reduced according to the amount of space you fill. Consider airplanes to be like any other form of public transportation – the more people you fit inside one vehicle, the more environmentally efficient you’re being. Because the average first class passenger takes up twice the area as a coach flier, the more spacious section reduces efficiency of the entire plane.
Arguments have been made against this calculation, stating that a formula for green travel should be based more on alternative fuels and lesser emissions, rather than each passengers impact, but the Union of Concerned Scientists stands by the simple rule: The more people in the vehicle, the more efficient the vehicle is.
While sitting in coach certainly makes a green travel statement, travelers can go the extra mile by booking flights with budget airlines with no first class section on the aircraft. These vessels actually lower emissions from 10-15 percent, compared to larger planes with roomy first class sections.
Green travelers often wonder whether or not it’s smarter to drive. Typical domestic planes can fit anywhere from 150-300 people. If each passenger drove to the destination, the exhaust emitted by that many cars driven for 500 miles would outweigh the emissions of one plane.
If you’re traveling solo, or with just one person, then you’re not ecologically utilizing the space in your car, therefore reducing efficiency. If you’re traveling with a group, you’ll likely use a larger vehicle like a van or an SUV, which are the biggest land culprits for carbon emission and air pollution. SUVs are proven to be five times worse for the environment than hybrid vehicles, and twice as bad as a typical sedan. So unless you plan on filling every seat of a small hybrid car, the Union of Concerned Scientist urges you take a greener travel option, and book a non-stop flight as a coach passenger.