Introducing planet-centred design to flight booking experiences

I’ve recently started looking at flights and holidays again. 

A fantastic new feature I’ve noticed is the addition of the carbon rating for flights. 

Example of flight results including emission impact of each option

I can see that a long-haul flight I was interested in booking has +19% CO2. I assume this relates to travelling back and forth across the globe to make connecting flights. 

As someone trying to be more mindful of their environmental impact, it made me pause and think about what I was booking. Not only is the price, airline and travel time considerations, but also the impact of the trip to the planet. When researching and weighing my options, I discounted some flight options because of their effect on CO2.

Of course, other elements put me and others off booking flights or particular flights. However, the CO2 emission made me think about what I was doing. If I weren’t searching for a last-minute flight over Christmas, which is notoriously hard to find and expensive, I would choose the flight/journey/airline that got me to my destination with the least impact on the environment possible. Already feeling restricted, I wasn’t as moralistic as I might have been in my choices. I knew I couldn’t get a direct flight, so I would have to make a connection to get to my destination. So I started restricting my shortlist to the ones that offered the least worse options.

My takeaway

It was great to see companies display the emission rating even though it may hurt their bottom line if customers decide not to book. However, the greater good it creates outweighs the negatives. It could also help change the industry if other customers like myself make decisions based on these factors.

I know it isn’t a magic bullet.

Another related tactic I’ve seen used in other industries is labelling foods to alert consumers about their high fat or sugar content.

Food labels (© BupaUK)

It doesn’t stop us from eating cakes and treats, but it may make some of us more mindful of what we eat. It will also impact some people’s choice to avoid certain foods altogether, look for the best in a bad bunch, or self-limit their options, as I did with my flights.

The change in food labelling was likely a result of regulation. However, changes that make our decisions more planet-centred don’t have to be driven by law.

We are starting to see a change in what makes business sense. If large, influential organisations such as Google and Skyscanner implement planet-centred features without needing to because of regulation or government policy changes; then others can too. Hopefully, this will lead to more companies following suit by making more planet-centred decisions.

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