Virgin Shames Passengers Into Buying Carbon Offsets

by | Nov 12, 2007

While other airlines have concentrated on selling carbon offsets to passengers when flights are booked, Virgin has unveiled a plan to sell offsets from the aisle during flights. The idea, according to an AFP article, is to sell the offsets alongside alcohol and perfume in front of fellow passengers in an effort to shame them into buying them.

“If the person sitting next to you chooses to offset their flight, it may prick your conscience and you may pay too,” a Virgin spokesman was quoted as saying.

The airline has partnered with myclimate to offer its Gold Standard Carbon Offset Scheme which is now available onboard and online, and will benefit projects in India and Indonesia.

Virgin Atlantic says it has also calculated how much carbon is produced for each of its flights and had this verified through Greenhouse gas verification company, CICS. The airline then calculated how much this would equate to for each passenger by taking into account the different weights of equipment and seats in each class of travel, and also the amount of cargo on each route. So Upper Class passengers pay more than Premium economy and Economy passengers because their seat and Inflight Entertainment monitors are significantly heavier.

“Virgin Atlantic is offering the world’s first ever scheme enabling passengers to offset their air travel during their flight,” said Sir Richard Branson, President of Virgin Atlantic. “This effective carbon offsetting option is unique as it supports only Gold Standard projects. We hope our passengers will be keen to become members of our Gold Standard Mile High Offset Club.”

The airline said it had decided on the new policy after noticing low participation in programs offered by competing airlines where customers were presented with the opportunity to offset the carbon emissions of their flight online.

British Airways faced harsh criticism because of the slow uptake of its voluntary program, but last month, Jetstar said that 10 percent of people using its website opted-in to its voluntary carbon offset program during its first week of operation.

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