Skip to main content
Skip table of contents

Travel with a Lighter Footprint

Image: Impact Travel Alliance

Sustainable travel is the conscious effort to travel in an environmentally friendly way that reduces the impact on the environment. Incorporate sustainable, green practices into the company’s travel policy. Set clear targets for your “green business travel policy”, and encourage employees to get involved. Think about creating an incentive program to reward and celebrate the most carbon-conscious travellers. From selecting carbon-neutral travel options to purposeful travel, sustainability requires the responsible consumption of resources.

Purposeful Travel Policy

Adopting a purposeful travel mindset encourages companies to look at travel as an investment rather than a cost. Identify the types of travel the company does and evaluate their importance.

  • Can certain meetings or trips be combined to conserve resources and reduce carbon footprint? Could some business trips be shortened?

  • Is there a way to identify objectives for each business trip to measure effectiveness?

Asking these questions and others will help you keep conservation at the heart of your business travel program and make the most of your travellers’ time on the road.

(info) Taking a one-way economy flight can generate more CO2e than citizens of some countries produce in a year.^

London (LHR) – Rome (FCO) | 218 kg CO2e

London (LHR) – Singapore (SIN) | 1,609 kg CO2e

^ Figures are averages, using the aircraft type typically used on flight routes, and the estimated load factor on board the flights.

Flying Long-haul & Non-stop

Your journey length and itinerary play a fundamental part in the size of your carbon footprint. Generally the longer and more direct the journey, the more eco-friendly your trip.

This is because cruising through the skies burns less fuel than other parts of the journey. Take for example the take-off and landing cycle. According to a NASA report, this accounts for 25% of the flight's emissions.

Therefore a longer flight, which spends hours cruising, burns less fuel per kilometre than a shorter flight that spends minutes in the air.

For short journeys, a great option is to travel by train or coach as these are much more carbon-efficient. As is opting to fly direct (non-stop) instead of jumping through multiple stops to get to your destination.

Fly Responsibly

Animation by Carbon Visuals

Fuller flight in economy

Whether a flight takes off with 10 passengers or with 100 it still burns a considerable amount of fuel over its course. The more passengers on a flight, the smaller the emissions per person.

True, it is difficult to only travel on flights near capacity – and honestly, travellers would likely prefer a spare seat beside them. But another way you can decrease your travel footprint is by booking an economy seat.

This humble piece of the aircraft is up to four times more eco-friendly than one in the pointy end. That is because first and business class seats account for more space. And more space accounts for a larger portion of an aircraft’s pollution.

Inflight Meal

No matter what part of the aircraft you are seated in, switching your inflight dining experience for a pre-ordered meat-free or plant-based special meal is a win for you and the environment. Not only does it mean you are one of the first to get served, thereby avoiding the potential for disappointment when the trolley arrives, but less CO2e is also emitted.

United Airlines adds plant-based items to its inflight menu.

Swiss' vegetarian and vegan cuisine created by Hiltl, the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world

Qantas' economy class - char kway teow style rice noodles with tofu and beansprouts.

ANA’s plant-based katsudon is a great intro to meatless meals for passengers.

For those that do not want to switch to a meat-free or plant-based meal, pre-booking your meal as some airlines offer even for economy class, can mean less food wastage. If you know you won’t need a meal and the airline you are flying offers a “meal skip” option like JAL (Japan Airlines), this too is another great way to reduce your carbon footprint when travelling.

Profile - Special Meals

The travel platform supports an array of special meals which can be recorded in the Travel Preferences section of one's profile.

Anyone looking to have an inflight meal that emits less CO2e regularly should add any one of the following available options to their profile.

Description & Code

Vegetarian Hindu (AVML)

Click here to expand...

Also known as a vegan or strict vegetarian meal, this meal is completely free of animal products or by-products. It does not contain any meat, fish, dairy, eggs, honey or other animal products or by-products.

Vege Vegan Meal (VGML)

Click here to expand...

Also known as a vegan or strict vegetarian meal, this meal is completely free of animal products or by-products. It does not contain any meat, fish, dairy, eggs, honey or other animal products or by-products.

Vege Raw Meal (RVML)

Click here to expand...

A vegetarian (and vegan) meal that consists of exclusively raw vegetables and salads.

Vege Oriental (VOML)

Click here to expand...

A vegetarian meal (usually also vegan) prepared in a Chinese or Oriental style.

Fruit Platter (FPML)

Click here to expand...

A meal that consists purely of fruit components such as fresh fruits, fruit compote, fruit desserts, etc. Inclusions can vary depending on availability and seasonality.

Vege Lacto-Ovo (VLML)

Click here to expand...

A vegetarian meal that will not contain any type of fish or meat, but may contain eggs and dairy products.

Vege Jain Meal (VJML)

Click here to expand...

A vegetarian meal prepared with vegetables and fruit that grow above the ground. It does not contain any animal products and by-products, or any root vegetables, including onions, garlic and ginger.

Go Digital

Long gone is the need for a paper ticket. Many airlines including Qantas, Virgin Australia, Emirates and Singapore Airlines offer various “go mobile” options. Loyalty programs are going “green” as well by offering digital membership cards.

Travel platforms like ours provide a digital gateway to these options and more, to reduce paper waste from printing tickets and itineraries. Many airports, airlines and hotels accept digital tickets, boarding passes, booking confirmations, and more.

Implementing a “no-print” travel practice can encourage travelling employees to go digital. As an added benefit, using contactless technology is a great way to maintain social distancing measures and avoid common-touch spaces.

When online check-in is being done, instead of printing out your confirmation, save paper and have it sent to you by SMS or email. Alternatively, download the airline's app which can store your flight details and boarding pass(es) to be shown at the gate.

Onboard, airlines are ditching paper-based pilot manuals and in-flight magazines for digital copies.

Travel Light & Responsible

On top of saving some money by not bringing checked luggage, especially when it comes to low-cost carriers (LCCs), by lightening the load you bring on board, you are lessening your carbon emissions.

That is because the heavier the aircraft, the more fuel is burned to move it. This is another reason aircraft are moving towards lighter paints and galleys. Before you leave, make a packing list and stick to it to avoid overpacking as well as excess fuel use.

Many hotels now ask you to put your towels in a specific place if you would like them washed and replaced. You also need to ask if you would like your sheets changed during your stay. Encourage your travelling employees to observe these practices and only change these amenities when required.

Reduce plastic waste

Avoid single-use plastics and bring a reusable water bottle wherever you go! Whether it’s at the office or on a business trip, refilling your own water bottle is a great way to reduce plastic waste. Bring the bottle through airport security empty and refill it at the water fountains. You can also take your plastic cutlery off the flight with you to use later (if unused) or throw it in a recycle bin.

From the plastic wrapped around your blanket to the plastic cutlery and cups, your onboard experience is riddled with unsustainable products.

  • Qantas reported that a flight from Sydney to Adelaide produced a massive 34 kilograms of waste, annually which would equate to 150 tonnes per year.

  • True, many of these elements, such as the plastic wrap around your earphones and heat-resistant containers for food preparation are imperative to maintaining a healthy onboard environment.

  • This does not mean though, that airlines can't provide a more eco-friendly or even a zero-waste flight.

Less waste

In addition to going digital, you too can minimise your waste as are airlines' and other suppliers' efforts to be plastic-free:

  • Bringing reusables

  • Bringing your own headphones and blanket

Take an empty bottle through airport security.

Bring your keep-cup for that takeaway beverage.

Say no to plastic straws and use an alternative, if required.

Avoid or minimise inflight amenity kits and don’t buy travel-size toiletries, instead, refill and reuse.

Say no to disposable cutlery.

Don’t plastic-wrap your suitcase when travelling. To protect your suitcase, find a reusable suitcase cover.

Reusable bottles, cups & cutlery

Planning ahead when you are packing is key. Bring your own bottle to fill up at the bubbler instead of purchasing one at the airport and pack your reusable coffee cups as airlines, including Air New Zealand and Cebu Pacific, now encourage you to use these on board. As an added step, bring your own cutlery for meals.

It is a small change but every cup and cutlery set rejected is one less in a landfill. And if you are on a long-haul flight sporting several meal services this adds up.

At the airport try to avoid purchasing food that comes in plastic packaging. Also, do not forget to dispose of your food in the correct bin afterwards.

Bring your own headphones & blanket

Your in-seat headphones and blanket might feel like a bonus, but they are also covered in plastic which, once removed, is likely headed for the tip.

By bringing your own you will not only save that plastic wrap from landfills, but you will also save on resources used to repurpose or clean them.

Do Not Disturb

Hang the “Do Not Disturb” sign when you leave your room at the hotel.

When travelling, remember to act in a hotel like you would at home – avoid getting clean towels when not necessary. Don't have long showers and remember to turn off the TV, lights and air-con when you leave the room. Reuse your towel, make your own bed😉and avoid using the free stuff in your room. Hanging the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door will see the cleaners leave your room as it is😀.

Drive Electric & Hybrid

Hire an electric or hybrid vehicle. Including electric and hybrid cars in the company’s travel policy will allow travellers to make a positive impact on the global and local environment.

Ride-share & Public Transport

You can also consider using the ride-share economy if it is available at your destination to decrease carbon emissions. Public transport is another great way to minimise the negative impact that mobility can have on the environment by increasing fuel efficiency and reducing traffic congestion.

Take a Train

According to Wired, rail travel accounts for 14g of CO2e emissions per passenger per mile, making it the more environmentally-friendly option than flights at 158g. If you have the time and the journey you need to take is available, why not enjoy “the scenic route” and take a train?

Eat Local

Support local communities and local businesses by embracing the 0KM food concept. By eating at restaurants that source their produce nearby, you help reduce food miles, preserve small farmland, and promote genetic diversity.

(info) Responsible travel is about more than transportation and accommodation! 

🍃 Discover more about the future of travel including decarbonising travel with Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) and letting the “train take the strain” in the following article(s):

JavaScript errors detected

Please note, these errors can depend on your browser setup.

If this problem persists, please contact our support.