FlyerTalk Forums - View Single Post - Letís let airlines know that climate concerns are changing our flying habits
Old Dec 13, 19, 9:33 am
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dickerso
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 396
Letís let airlines know that climate concerns are changing our flying habits

Fellow Flyertalkers,

Iíve passionately enjoyed flying since I was a child. My mother was an airline employee and many fond memories arose from employee-pass travel. This passion has led me around the world on dozens of airlines (from my trip reports, you could see that this was often in over-the-top premium cabins) and to becoming a private pilot myself. However, after learning about flyingís outsize climate impacts, Iíve reduced my commercial flying greatly (now usually in economy and also skipping trips by seeking out culture and adventures closer to home).

I feel obligated to reduce my own flying, but long term, communicating to airlines about our individual reductions could make an outsize impact.

For instance, Airbus is apparently considering whether or not to invest substantial resources in engineering a hybrid-electric version of their upcoming single-aisle evolution of the A320 family. Convincing airlines and aircraft manufacturers that such an aircraft will offer a demand premium will help dictate aviationís role in the coming decades of climate crisis.

As frequent flyers (or perhaps former frequent flyers), we should take advantage of the particular leverage we have on the decisions of airlines. An airline may offer you a direct channel to executive leadership. Executive contact information is also broadly available on the internet for most major airlines. Alternatively, an airline will prioritize elite-flyer comments through customer relations and sales channels.

Below is a letter that I sent to Alaska Airlines leadership (I was formerly MVP Gold for several years). Feel free to borrow from it freely or consider your own letter, but even a brief note that says,

ďHey, elite loyalty member here, Iíve reduced my flying by about 20% last year because of climate concernsÖĒ
can help make a difference.

Thank you for considering contacting your airline of choice about this!

Letter:
Hello,

Iíve passionately enjoyed flying since I was a child. My parents were airline employee and many fond memories arose from employee-pass travel. This passion has led me around the world on dozens of airlines (often in premium cabins) and to becoming a private pilot myself. However, after learning about flyingís outsize climate impacts, Iíve reduced my commercial flying greatly (now usually in economy and also skipping trips by seeking out adventures closer to home).

This topic has also come up with colleagues (Iím a physician recently out of training; in spite of a positive turn in our financial situation and vacation availability, many of us are seeking to reduce our flying).

For myself, Iíve gone from MVP Gold for several years with Alaska to a general member essentially exclusively due to climate concerns.

This will become a growing issue for airlines given that:
-knowledge of climate issues correlates with income and education (best potential leisure customers)
-young customers are much more concerned about climate impacts
-direct effects of climate change will become more obvious and immediate
-"flight shame" makes pursuing status even with business travel seem gross/silly
-marginal improvements in fossil-fuel powered planes are insufficient to alleviate these concerns

I'm not claiming that Alaska is particularly polluting (I'm aware of Alaskaí early investments in biofuels). But, I do want to point out the major competitive advantage for an airline that that could:
-electrify fleets where feasible (based on battery energy-density this will be possible to at least 500 nm by 2030)
-increase hybrid-electrics, possibly hydrogen or fuel cell technologies
-invest in biofuels and carbon offsets (complicated, not a complete solution)

I recommend that Alaska prioritize this in discussions with aircraft suppliers as well as be open to buying from or investing in startups pursuing these technologies.

Thank you for your consideration,
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