This year on World Environment Day, history was made–and strangely enough I was apart of it. Still flying high from the experience. On June 5th, the United ‘Flight For The Planet’ crew flew us from Chicago to Los Angeles on the most eco-friendly flight in aviation history.
Watch and Continue Reading Below:
For this flight, I was joined by travel influencer @comeflywithlove and multi-Emmy nominated TV host and explorer Philippe Cousteau who is known worldwide for his conservation efforts which are focused on solving global social and environmental problems–aka someone you should know. He’s basically Captain Planet, but like, real.
Together we explored how United is making an impact on sustainability in the travel space. The aviation industry has a long way to go in reducing its environmental impact but I’m proud to have witnessed United leading the way for others to follow in its eco-conscious footsteps. We flew with sustainable biofuel, dined with wooden cutlery, wiped our hands with bamboo napkins, and drank from an industry-first, fully recyclable-paper hot beverage cup.
WHAT MADE THIS FLIGHT SO ECO-FRIENDLY?
So why exactly is sustainable biofuel such a big deal? Well, you know I’m all about electric cars, and while I’d love for planes to be electric too…that’s not a thing yet. Next best option is biofuel!
What is biofuel? Conventional jet fuel is derived from crude oil, but sustainable aviation biofuels can be derived from sources like non-edible natural oils and agricultural wastes.
The EcoSkies flight utilized a 30/70 blend of low-carbon, sustainable aviation fuel derived from agricultural waste that was provided by World Energy, and traditional jet fuel. The biofuel alone has a whopping 60% less emissions than normal fuel. United is the only domestic carrier consistently using biofuels and investing in ways to bring it to scale.
ZERO CABIN WASTE
In the Economy cabin, United swapped traditional snack options with a complimentary plated service featuring compostable serviceware, including a test of an industry-first, recyclable-paper, hot beverage cup.
United has already eliminated non-recyclable stirring sticks and cocktail picks systemwide and replaced them with an environmentally-friendly product made of 100% bamboo.
United decided to offset the remainder of the flight’s emissions using their new carbon offset provider, Conservation International. Conservation International now partners with United on the airline’s consumer carbon offset program – Eco-Skies CarbonChoice – and together they will focus on CI’s mission to promote nature-based solutions to climate change.
United has made major investments in a modern, fuel-efficient fleet while implementing operational and procedural changes to support fuel conservation. The Flight for the Planet demonstrated single-engine taxiing, Air Traffic Control prioritization and a continuous descent approach into Los Angeles, which saved fuel while also reducing noise impact to the city.
THE FUTURE OF AVIATION
We boarded the flight and flew from Chicago to Los Angeles using the biofuel and off we flew. I also particularly enjoyed that they offered a special vegan option on this flight—as some of you know, veganism is one of my personal favorite ways to practice sustainability.
If you are looking to reduce your carbon footprint, consider traveling with airlines like United that are working to reduce the carbon intensity of flying by making significant fuel efficiency improvements and by increasing their use of biofuels. United customers can also purchase carbon offsets or donate miles towards the purchase of carbon offsets through their Eco-Skies CarbonChoice program.
No other airline has ever combined sustainable aviation biofuel, zero cabin waste, carbon offsets, and operational efficiencies. This flight was the first of its kind and hopefully it won’t be the last. United president Scott Kirby said in his speech “This will only work to make this a better planet if our competitors do the same as well.” I agree and hope that others will follow suit.