Eco-Friendly Airlines

While it’s easy to be green at home, it can be tricky to ensure that you practice an eco-friendly lifestyle everywhere you go. You might be thinking that it’s especially difficult to be green when flying, because airplanes produce such high amounts of CO2. However, because green travel is only becoming more popular, airlines are trying just as hard as their passengers to reduce their damage to the environment. Many companies are working to reduce their carbon footprint and to make a difference when it comes to global climate change.

And although airline emissions as a whole do contribute substantially to pollution and climate change (the airline industry currently produces about 3% of the world’s emissions and that number is only expected to rise), many airlines are aiming for carbon neutral growth and working to modify their impact in other ways. Big initiatives start with the production of next generation aircraft like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner or the Airbus A350, and include things like the development of biofuels and other alternative energy sources. However, with everything from using lighter drink carts to serving organic food options, even the smallest changes made by these airlines can help make a difference.

If you’re looking to choose an eco-friendly airline for your next vacation, consider choosing one of these carriers. Many airlines also provide public environmental reports that you can find by searching online, so if you have any particular concerns about a favorite airline, you can easily find out more about their eco-friendly practices.

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin has actually won accolades for being the greenest airline for several years in recent history, and they’re leaders in the movement towards eco-friendly air travel. In addition to small things like offering sustainably sourced and organic food on their flights, they also make big changes like funding biofuel research. They also adopt a stringent recycling program and have reduced their carbon emissions substantially.

Air France / KLM

This conglomerate airline is one of the best in European air travel at promoting green practices and policies within their organization. They participate in the industry-wide 2020 carbon emission goals, which include improving fuel efficiency with better planes and alternative fuels like biofuel, and reducing C02 emissions with smarter technology. They’ve also reduced their noise, water usage, waste production, and energy consumption significantly since 2013.

Alaska Airlines

This airline is making a difference not only within its own organization, but also within its community. They participated in a community partnership with the city of Seattle and with Boeing to endorse the “Greener Skies” program, which contributes to green research and development. Their private research has actually benefited the wider airline industry, with innovations in landing techniques, for example, helping to reduce carbon emissions, fuel usage, and noise pollution.

United Airlines

This airline has only improved its rankings in recent years, and has made some big changes even since 2013, when they launched their “Eco-Skies” program, which details their commitment to reducing their carbon footprint. They’ve actually managed to improve fuel efficiency over 30% since 1994, and they have also recently started using biofuels to power their fleet of modern, eco-friendly aircraft.


Because they’re a newer company, JetBlue helps out the environment just by using newer, more environmentally responsible aircraft. They also make a concerted effort to reduce their carbon emissions and are exploring alternative fuel options. JetBlue even offers natural foods aboard all flights and recycles as much as possible. Like many of the other companies on this list, they also adopt green building practices for their corporate offices, expanding their green actions beyond the individual airplanes.


Delta’s commitment to greener travel really shows in how transparent they are about their impact on the environment. An annual “Corporate Responsibility Report” details things like their use of water and fuel, and new initiatives they’re undertaking to increase sustainable practices. They also track their waste, and try to reduce it by recycling as much as possible (even old safety vests!), using environmentally responsible materials, and minimizing the production of hazardous waste.