Are there any significant differences to the ecological impact of flying based on which airline you choose? The Guardian seems to suggest that maximizing economy seats per plane could help determine the best airline, though I don't know whether such information is available. Has anyone heard of other ways of determining this or if any airlines have any other promising initiatives?

Obviously, the ideal would be to eliminate air travel, but I'm sure I'm not the only one for whom this would have serious professional ramifications.

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    Many budget airlines offer only economy seats, making it easy to check that aspect of things. Although that of course limits your route options.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 17:20

1 Answer 1


The question has the carbon-footprint tag so this answer will focus on this aspect.

Considering that the great majority of an airline's total fuel consumption is driven by the aircraft consumption we can probably ignore the other operations (maintenance, vehicules, building efficiency, ...) since they are relatively small.

There is a great wikipedia page on aircraft efficiency. In short, an airline needs to manage it's booking to have planes as full as possible (maximum seat occupancy) on all trip legs, encourage people to travel lighter (0.75% fuel economy per 1% weight reduction) and have a fleet of larger newer planes (best fuel economy).

So fly in a full 787, economy class, with a budget airline with less leg room and restrictive baggage policy. (low-cost airlines however typically use smaller less efficient aircraft)

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