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Low carbon flights on the internet

If you travel a lot, you’re probably used to visiting airline web sites and being asked whether you want to see your flights sorted by **price** or **schedule**. How would you like to sort by **carbon**?

Until recently, only experts in aviation emissions could track down this information. But now the public can find comparative data using TerraPass’ new aviation calculator. The results can help you choose the flight with the lowest climate impact. Here’s what I found during a check of popular U.S. air routes:

Route Airline Pounds of CO2*
JFK to LAX Virgin America 1,390
  Delta 1,456
  American 1,586
  United 2,070
SFO to JFK Delta 1,425
  Virgin America 1,450
  JetBlue 1,462
  Alaska 1,496
  American 1,530
  United 2,158
DCA to LGA US Airways 260
  United 304
  Delta 350
  American 816
ATL to ORD Delta 543
  United 611
  US Airways 614
  American 708
LAX to SFO Virgin America 344
  United 351
  American 397
  Southwest 406
  Alaska 420
  Delta 798

\* Per passenger, round-trip flight, economy class

The calculator takes into account aircraft type, average passenger loads, and fuel burn rates for ascents and descents. So the carbon emissions per passenger can vary widely — sometimes by a factor of two or more from lowest to highest on the same route. And across different routes, it’s not necessarily the same airline that pollutes the least. The type of aircraft and how full the planes are flying can make a particular airline a green leader for one route and among the carbon hogs for another route.

As travelers become more aware of these differences, we hope they will select flights based on which ones transport a passenger point-to-point with the least amount of carbon pollution. The cool thing for consumers is that less carbon means less fuel, which should eventually mean lower ticket prices.

Airline executives take note: TerraPass just gave your customers a tool to help them (and you) fight climate change.

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