At first glance, there is not much in common between airline meals and on board duty free sales. On an airline with buy on board catering, the common element would be that passengers have to pay for it.

The other aspect that is not often considered is the environmental impact of both of these. Anything carried on board equals weight and therefore fuel is required to carry it aloft. How can this be mitigated? Fairly simply, perhaps.

Airline Meals and Duty Free

Uneaten food on board a flight is routinely incinerated thanks to quarantine regulations around the world. To reduce the waste, airlines should move to a pre-order only model. You order your meal online at the time of booking and that’s that.

This way only the required amount would be carried on board and if you didn’t order one, then you’ll go hungry. This will cut out much of the discarded food and result in less weight and therefore less fuel.

It is essentially the same with duty free. A fully loaded cart can weigh up to 100 kilograms when full of products. Does it really all need to be carried on board?

Once again, you should be able to pre-order your duty free anytime before the flight. It can then be delivered in the air, saving the airline having to carry the complete range. Some airlines have already removed this option from some flights, and I think more may follow suit.

Activists Need To Take A Broader View

While it may be the hip and happening thing to bag flying right now, it is somewhat unfair. The aviation industry has decreased emissions markedly since the first jets arrived in the 1950s. If the activists had bothered to research their history, perhaps they would have a more holistic view of things.

I was pleased to read this BBC article about how online streaming results in the same emissions as flying. I bet the flight shame people are still watching Netflix and using Spotify while on their long train journeys! Hell, even trainers are very bad for the environment, so I think other areas are more important to target than flying.

Will Finnair Lead The Way?

All of this is inspire by an article in FlightGlobal about Finnair’s ambitious environmental plans. What struck me is that they want to represent all stakeholders and not just shareholders.

This particularly resonates for me, as I believe the only way the world is going to change is when money and the accumulation of wealth stops being the most important goal for many. There is space both for making money and ensuring the planet and the people on it benefit as well. It’s just taking corporations a very long time to get there. Perhaps they should read about Finnair’s plans and take a leaf out of their playbook.

Overall Thoughts

All the little things add up when it comes to protecting the environment. Whether it’s airline meals and duty free when flying, or not taking the offered bag when shopping, everyone has a responsibility to one extent or another.

Some things will take a bit of a culture shift, as people do get set in their ways. However if we all work at it together, perhaps things will get better. I mean, if the world managed to phase out Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs, like Freon) to protect the Ozone layer, surely there is some hope.

What say you? Would you be happy to order your complimentary airline meals at the time of booking? How about the duty free? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image via Cathay Pacific.
Duty free cart via Retail News Asia.
Convair 880 head on by Tom LeBoutillier via Classic Airliner Videos on Facebook.
Finnair by Valentin Hintikka via Wikimedia Commons