Commentary: How can hungry passengers fly more sustainably in Southeast Asia?


Studies show that tourists are willing to spend more to travel sustainably. A survey published in 2021 found that more than half of visitors to a small Indonesian island were willing to pay up to US$7.50 extra per night for hotels certified as green.

So how can we minimize the environmental impact of our post-pandemic adventures abroad?


An easy way to minimize your vacation’s carbon footprint is to minimize travel time. That would mean choosing nearby destinations when planning a trip.

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According to the International Civil Aviation Organization’s carbon emissions calculator, a return flight from Singapore to London generates 933 kg of CO2 (carbon dioxide) – which is about one-eighth of a Singaporean’s average annual carbon footprint.

A round trip to Bangkok, on the other hand, produces 183 kg of CO2. While emissions per kilometer traveled on short-haul flights are typically higher than on long-haul flights, less time in the air equals less carbon pollution overall.

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How you fly also determines how much you radiate. According to UK government data, a business class passenger emits three times more CO2 per kilometer traveled than an economy class passenger, while a first class passenger emits four times more CO2. Upgraded seats take up more space, thus responsible for a greater proportion of aircraft pollution.

Other benefits of regional getaways include saving money, travel time, and jet lag. If you would like to visit a distant destination, consider a longer vacation and live to other cities by public transport during your stay.

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