Why Flight Shaming Makes Flying Business Class Even More Delectable

Forbidden fruit.

Why Flight Shaming Makes Flying Business Class Even More Delectable

Pointy End flyer @justinrosslee appears unlikely to join the 'flight shaming' movement any time soon...

Mark Twain once said, “Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Greta Thornburg, on the other hand, one of the 21st century’s most iconic climate change activists, is encouraging people to stop travelling altogether, unless you can do so via “carbon neutral” means.

Her refusal to board a plane is catching on, with The Age reporting last week that there is now a subsection of society who say they’ll “never fly again.”

“A global backlash against air travel has emerged over the past year, particularly in Europe, where flygskam – Swedish for ‘flight shame’ – has taken hold.”

On the other side of the spectrum are the world’s business class bloggers; proud international citizens who gallivant the globe in extreme ergonomic comfort, creating double the carbon footprint of economy passengers (per trip), sometimes on ‘status runs‘ booked with the sole purpose of earning status credits rather than to see a new place.


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Airplane mode

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At first glance, it appears obvious who’s right. After all: what could be more honourable than limiting your own horizons for the sake of your grandkids? And what could be more selfish than jet setting in style?

However, speaking to pointy end travel bloggers like Immanuel Debeer (status credit guru and owner of Flight Hacks), as well as doing a little research of our own, D’Marge has found flight shaming is a supremely ineffective way of discouraging business class travellers from flying.


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How? Well, there’s more to warrant hedonism than the glib “better a few generations ‘live it up’ than a hundred generations eek out a miserly existence” attitude. In fact, if Prometheans like Immanuel Debeer are to be believed, travelling only as far as an eBay rowboat will take you is just as ridiculous as sitting in a business class seat drinking Moet as the world burns.

As Immanuel puts it: “Flight shamers only really shame themselves. I don’t know any normal person who’s ashamed of flying. There are a lot of other things you can do to minimise pollution and carbon emissions. Aviation is only a tiny part of this (pollution/emissions), but without it the world would grind to a halt.”

“If you think flight shaming is a solution you should also be shaming people who have kids,” Immanuel adds. “And we all know that’s just nuts.”

“The only way forward is innovation and who’s driving that? Certainly not the flight shaming hippies. So am I ashamed to fly business/first class? No: I enjoy it just as much.”

Of course, the environmentalists will argue that sustainable energy is a huge area of innovation too. But focussing on a narrow subset of energy generation, flight lovers argue, will inevitably stultify progress.

While D’Marge has no authority to say how moving backwards before we go forwards will turn out, what we are certain about is that flight shaming is a terrible way to discourage people from flying business class.

Why? Because, much like wearing a Gucci tee, the attraction of business class, as the Australian Financial Review admits, is the ~illicit~ feel. And when it comes to luxury goods and experiences, exclusivity is a holy grail, not a dirty word.

So ‘shaming’ business class passengers for drinking the forbidden fruits of 40,000ft, for most of the demographic, is only going to make it taste that much better.


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Favorite travel hack: Drinking your ticket price in champagne.

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Not to mention: while it is true that aviation will double or possibly triple by 2050, at the moment flying only contributes about 2 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions, according to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), something prolific business class passengers are quick to point out.

In Australia, for instance, overall emissions from aviation (both domestic and international) represented 3.8 per cent of Australia’s total in 2017. As The Age reports, “while that’s a significant number, it comes in well behind our biggest polluters – electricity and heat production (32 per cent of the total), road transport (14 per cent), and methane produced by farm animals (8.7 per cent).”

Of course, while burning the candle at both ends gives a lovely light, if we want our great-great-grandkids to be able to feels its warmth too, we ought to start reconsidering a few habits. But if you want to convince people to get on (or, in this case, off) board with this, shame is not a smart strategy.

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