Bargain flights, high environmental cost

Saturday, July 1st, 2006

I’m visiting Dundee shortly and was comparing the cost of flights with rail travel. Ideally I’d go by train (it’s a rare chance to read) but the return journey is 12 hours long and would mean getting back home at 5am so the alternative of an hour-long flight appeals more. Not sure how many trees I’ll have to plant to make up for the carbon I’ll produce (I flew to Glasgow and back last week – quite the jet-setter all of a sudden).
Anyway, I looked online for the best price for the flight and you can imagine my surprise at the lowest quote I got:

Yes, that’s right: £10,165.80 ($18,408.23) for a one-hour flight.

Try as I might, that was the same price everywhere! Until I thought about going direct to ScotAirways’s web site where I managed to purchase the ticket for around £150 – about the same as the rail fare. Something odd going on there, clearly, but it was a bit of a shock…

Incidentally, the amount of carbon I would produce by flying is approximately 193kg, eight times the 23.8kg I’d produce taking the train. The same figures are true of my flight to Glasgow too. Normally I use the train and in fact have only ever flown once before (to the Republic of Ireland and back in 2002) so while I feel somewhat guilty, compared with a lot of people I think my record is pretty good. Mind you, if flights really were priced at £10,000 an hour maybe we would all cut back on this form of travel.

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