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“You Don’t Have a Right to Cheap Flights”

“You Don’t Have a Right to Cheap Flights”
Jeff Edwards

The aviation industry gets its fair share of criticism, both earned and undeserved, but now airlines are being called out for a most unexpected reason – offering bargain airfares. In some quarters, the newfound popularity of air travel is now considered a scourge on both the environment and the cultural integrity of popular tourist destinations.

When adjusted for inflation, airfare today is cheaper than nearly in any other time in human history. For families who find themselves able to take advantage of what was a mode of transportation only available to the well-heeled in the not-so-distant past, this is the golden age of aviation. Environmentalists, on the other hand, aren’t convinced that putting the jet-set lifestyle in reach of the masses is necessarily a good thing.

In much the same way that single-use containers have fallen out of vogue, Scandinavians are rethinking the convenience of cheap air travel. According to Science X, the Swedes even have a name for the embarrassment resulting from choosing a commercial flight over more environmentally friendly forms of transportation. Flygskam, or “flight shame” has not only entered into modern vernacular but has also changed the way some people travel. Lawmakers in Sweden even introduced a hefty tax on air travel with the intention of lessening the environmental impact of rampant air travel.

“The objective of the tax is to minimize the carbon footprint of flights following a sharp increase in air travel,” Climate Minister spokesperson Isabella Lovin wrote in a statement unveiling the carbon tax on all flights to, from and within the country.

In his latest column, “You Don’t Have a Right to Cheap Flights,” Bloomberg Europe columnist Leonid Bershidsky endorses measures designed to make air travel less accessible. He asserts that airlines, an industry specifically exempted from the Paris Agreement on climate change, is hardly likely to become more environmentally responsible out of its own sense of social accountability.

“I, for one, would welcome a world in which air travel would require more investment than today, making people more aware of physical distances and more appreciative of the differences between places,” Bershidsky concludes in his May 7 op-ed. “Instant travel as a cheap commodity isn’t people’s natural right: It has only existed for about three decades. Its impact on climate could be a good starting point for some lifestyle rethinking.”

Bershidsky explains that concerns over passengers’ carbon footprints are only the start of how bargain basement airfares have changed the world for the worse. He writes that the flood of tourists to cultural sites around the world, fueled by bargain airline tickets, has in many ways led directly “to the creation of cheap cardboard versions of major cultures, made especially for low-engagement tourists.”


[Image Source: Shutterstock]

View Comments (10)


  1. horseymike

    May 8, 2019 at 4:11 pm

    the airlines should go back to providing a civilized experience for those who fly. stop the pack em in like sardines mentality ect….
    they would make just as much money if not more. charge enough for a ticket to provide a safe and civil mode of transportation for those who wish to use it.

  2. rylan

    May 9, 2019 at 5:18 am

    Sounds like a socialist response… tax tax tax to try to force their utopian views on others.

  3. WilcoRoger

    May 9, 2019 at 5:38 am

    “the newfound popularity of air travel ”


    “Instant travel as a cheap commodity isn’t people’s natural right: It has only existed for about three decades.”

    Can you spot the problem with these two sentences?

    As for substance – air travel is responsible for 2% (!) of greenhouse gas emissions. So this is a prime case of barking up the wrong tree.

  4. PHL

    May 9, 2019 at 8:27 am

    horseymike, can you provide any basis for your statement that airlines would “make just as much money if not more” if they reduced the seats to give more room? All things being equal, the airlines will in fact make less money if there are fewer seats.

    The airlines are in the business of making money. They will charge what the overall market is willing to pay. If the plans start going out with low yields, they will either drop the price or drop the route. And, there have been attempts in the past by airlines to reduce overall seating as a value proposition to customers, but that ended up losing them money.

    At least in the USA, no matter what seat you’re in, you’re flying on a safe mode of transportation. If you want a more ‘civil’ experience with more legroom, that option is available to you for a few extra bucks.

  5. strickerj

    May 9, 2019 at 9:55 am

    And here we get to the crux of the author’s issue:

    “He writes that the flood of tourists to cultural sites around the world, fueled by bargain airline tickets, has in many ways led directly ‘to the creation of cheap cardboard versions of major cultures, made especially for low-engagement tourists.’ ”

    He’s mad that the hordes of unwashed masses are ruining his travel experience, but spends most of the article focusing on the climate change aspect so as not to come across as an elitist. Well sorry, but I for one am excited that information and experiences previously reserved for the privileged few are more accessible.

  6. sfoeuroflyer

    May 9, 2019 at 3:43 pm

    Better still, why doesn’t Sweden just forbid its people to travel on planes or cars? If reducing travel is virtuous, then ending it altogether must be even more so. I have no desire to visit Sweden so if their airports are bulldozed away and replanted with pine trees, I wont mind. Then the all controlling socialists living there can contemplate what they have done to their lives. Just don’t mess with mine.

  7. JackE

    May 9, 2019 at 4:55 pm

    Miserable people trying to make other people miserable.

  8. davidb0814

    May 10, 2019 at 6:14 am

    What a lot of elitist nonsense! Of course, when a politician wants to fly, the citizens have to pay- How smug these people are!

  9. OUTraveling

    May 10, 2019 at 9:25 am

    I have a solution.

    In lieu of additional restrictions on air travel those who propose such laws should at the very least volunteer themselves for permanent sterilization.

    Less mouths to feed and less resources needed to bring up a child in a industrialized nation is “green”, no?

    For those really motivated, they should consider euthanasia.

  10. RandyN

    May 11, 2019 at 11:25 am

    Like the Internet, flying was better before it was democratized.

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