You Drive a Prius, But Which Airline Should You Fly?

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 10 2013 8:54 PM

Which Airlines Are Most Fuel Efficient? A New Study Helps You Fly Green.

176739294
The first plane of the new Hungarian airline 'Solyom' flies over the Budapest Liszt Ferenc International Airport on August 18, 2013.

Photo by FERENC ISZA/AFP/Getty Images

Your life may be getting greener by the minute, but when it comes to going on quick weekend getaway or a European vacation, you can’t exactly load up the Prius and set off. You have to fly. The most diligent fliers among us can, of course, tack on their own personal carbon offset tax on a flight so they can sleep better onboard.

But, if you’re still one of those fliers looking for the best deal, and thought all airlines are about the same when it comes to environmental impact, you'd be wrong. That’s according to a new study that ranks the fuel efficiency of U.S carriers, courtesy of the International Council on Clear Transportation.

Advertisement

The study analyzed the fuel efficiency of major U.S. airlines and anointed Alaska Airlines the most fuel-efficient. Rounding out the top five are: Spirit, Hawaiian Airlines, Continental, and Southwest. Delta, US Airways, AirTran, and American Airways brought up the rear, faring below the industry average.

One of the biggest factors in fuel efficiency was the technology of the aircraft, as well as the age of the fleet. The study found that fuel efficiency ranged by 26% from airline to airline. When it came to specific routes that airlines fly, the range is even more striking, as “researchers uncovered an 87% difference in fuel efficiency between Southwest, the most efficient carrier, and Delta, the least, on the Chicago-New York route,” the Guardian reports.

 “Fuel costs are a big concern for airlines now, but these numbers raise real questions about the conventional wisdom that fuel costs by themselves act as a sufficient incentive to drive efficiency in this sector,” one of the report’s authors told Businessweek. The airline industry is the fastest growing source of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, according to the Guardian, with the United Nations set to meet this month to try to broker a carbon-cutting deal with the airline industry.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Photos of the Crowds That Took Over NYC for the People’s Climate March

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

The Afghan Town With a Legitimately Good Tourism Pitch

A Futurama Writer on How the Vietnam War Shaped the Series

  News & Politics
Photography
Sept. 21 2014 11:34 PM People’s Climate March in Photos Hundreds of thousands of marchers took to the streets of NYC in the largest climate rally in history.
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 22 2014 9:39 AM Adrian Peterson Has a Terrible Contract, and Cutting Him Would Save the Vikings a Lot of Money
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 22 2014 9:12 AM What Is This Singaporean Road Sign Trying to Tell Us?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Science
Sept. 22 2014 8:08 AM Slate Voice: “Why Is So Much Honey Clover Honey?” Mike Vuolo shares the story of your honey.
  Arts
Television
Sept. 21 2014 9:00 PM Attractive People Being Funny While Doing Amusing and Sometimes Romantic Things Don’t dismiss it. Friends was a truly great show.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 7:47 AM Predicting the Future for the U.S. Government The strange but satisfying work of creating the National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends report.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 22 2014 5:30 AM MAVEN Arrives at Mars
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.