Traveling is one of life’s greatest pleasures—but doing so in a way that ensures generations after us can visit the same landmarks and cities requires being more thoughtful and self-reflective. While traveling by air is by far the most damaging in terms of environmental impact, there are certain small habits that we can develop in order to cut back on our carbon footprint while the aviation industry works toward cleaner air travel.
“We know that our customers are sustainably minded and want to support companies that share their values,” shares Amelia DeLuca, VP of Sustainability at Delta Air Lines. “At Delta, we believe you shouldn’t have to choose between seeing the world and saving it. That philosophy drives us to be transparent with our customers on the steps we are taking now to meet our sustainability goals.”
Trying to be a more eco-friendly traveler isn’t a noble task—it’s a responsibility that all travelers should be trying to work toward every time they book a flight. Here are some of DeLuca’s best tips to become more sustainably-minded when traveling by air:
Travel with an airline you trust.
“My top tip for eco-minded travelers looking to cut down their carbon footprint when traveling by air: travel with an airline that you know is working towards a sustainable future across all aspects of the flight experience, from electrification of ground services equipment to deployment of sustainable onboard products and meals to investing in sustainable solutions like biofuel sources,” says DeLuca.
Book nonstop flights when possible.
According to Deluca, booking nonstop flights will always be better than opting for shorter haul connections—even if it’s slightly more expensive. “Since most carbon emissions come from takeoff and landing, it’s always good to book nonstop flights when possible,” she explains.
Become someone who packs light.
Packing light comes with a whole myriad of benefits—like not having to lug a massive suitcase on and off foreign subway platforms. According to DeLuca, it’s also much more sustainable. “Try to limit the luggage you bring onboard,” she urges. “More luggage means more weight, which means more fuel is needed to get you to your final destination.”
Choose your in-flight meal before boarding.
If you have the option to choose your meal before boarding, do it! “If we know what you want to eat beforehand, it minimizes the number of meals we need to provision, which means less food waste and less fuel used,” explains DeLuca.
Close the shades.
Although it’s tempting to peek out at the gorgeous cotton candy clouds on the horizon, you’ll want to quickly snap that Instagram shot and close the shades. “Leaving the window shades open heats up the cabin and the aircraft has to use more energy to keep you cool,” DeLuca shares.
Skip single-use plastic.
DeLuca suggests bringing a reusable bottle to the airport to fill once you’re through security. Not only will this save you tons of money throughout your trip but it also helps keep single-use plastic out of the landfill.