Here's great news for the airlines, courtesy of Spagnola: Nearly 4.75 billion passenger trips are expected worldwide this year. That would be a record, and an increase of 137% since 2004.
That's not necessarily great news for the environment. Although the airline industry isn't the leading offender, it's the growth in emissions from air travel that are at issue, William Wilkes wrote in a March Bloomberg article.
"All of these forecasts are terrifying climate scientists and activists who say increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases are leading to rising temperatures, more extreme weather and higher death tolls from natural disasters caused at least in part by human activity," Wilkes wrote. He then quoted Paul Fennel, a professor of clean energy at Imperial College in London, as saying, "We are all going to have to reduce the extent to which we fly."
Enter flight shaming, which means you are wringing your hands over your carbon footprint and deciding perhaps you won't take that trip.
The idea has been gaining momentum since about 2017 and may be having an effect, according to the BBC. Domestic travel dropped 4% in Sweden in 2019, which the BBC cites as the country of origin for flygskam, or flight shaming.
In July, KLM asked people to reduce their air travel, suggesting train travel in its place.
That's a concept that works in the Netherlands and most of Europe a little better than it does in the United States. You can get to Paris from London (about 300 miles) by EuroStar in a little more than two hours. If you took Amtrak's Coast Starlight from L.A. to San Francisco (about 380 miles), you could leave L.A. at 10:10 a.m. and get to San Francisco about 10:30 p.m., with the last of the trip by bus.
It's not just that we don't have high-speed trains; it's the distances you must cover in this country if you're headed for points east.
If you fly, several airlines let you buy carbon offsets, including Delta, United and JetBlue.
Or you could plant trees. In a study, 1st Move International calculated how many trees you would need to plant to mitigate a trip from the United Kingdom to various places, then recalculated for LAX: to New York City (seven), to Tokyo (15), to London (16) and to Bangkok, Thailand (23).
Should you fly? Not fly? Kaplan notes that even if you're not on that flight, it will take off anyway - at least for now.
Until we have clean-air jets, this is going to be an increasingly large issue.
The question you need to ask yourself: Can I live with myself if I go? As a traveler, can I live with myself if I don't?
(Have a travel dilemma? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org. We regret we cannot answer every inquiry.)