2 Mar 2018

Free idea! The frequent flier planet killer app

4x emissions (to be offset by wishful thinking)
Lots of people associate frequent flier miles as "free money" rather than the (increasingly) small rebate it represents on their cost of air travel, but airlines continue to use them as a means of supporting demand for their product as well as profiting from the seigniorage they receive from creating something from nothing.

A few months ago, I thought it would be good to create an app that would let people know how much damage their flight is doing to the planet, via the GHG emissions that come with their flight. (This idea is not nearly as good as my idea on taxing aviation fuel.)

The Planet Killer App would show GHG emissions between take off and landing [borrowing from this] but also the equivalent impacts in terms of dead polar bears, climate refugees, failed crops, and so on. As a "labeling" app (rather than a price mechanism), it might not have any affect on people's decisions, but it would help them -- and others -- think different about the real costs of travel rather than buying indulgences or "redeeming miles" for more flights or crap.

Feel free to use this idea to build your app ;)

Interesting quote from Christopher Elliott (a travel journalist and consumer advocate):
I'm a mileage atheist, so I do not encourage my readers to participate in loyalty programs. Unless you have the time to study loyalty programs as if they are Holy Scripture, your airline will benefit from it more than you will. It's a classic win-lose. For all but the most dedicated frequent traveler, you're better off buying the best ticket and forgetting about the loyalty program, which often seduces you into buying more expensive tickets from an airline with terrible customer service.

Addendum (18 Feb 2019): It's happening!

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