In an effort to make planes lighter and save on fuel costs, airlines are taking creative approaches to cutting weight from the most seemingly inconsequential places.
Earlier this year, United Airlines announced that it changed the paper of its in-flight magazine. Each issue now weighs one ounce less than it did before, which, according to the Los Angeles Times, saves the airline $290,000 per year in operating costs.
“Anytime we can reduce even an ounce of weight, that means we burn less fuel to fly to that destination,” Aaron Stash, United's head of environmental strategy and sustainability, told CBS News. “Even an ounce, because if you are multiplying that across the thousands of seats and the thousands of flights we have, that ounce adds up and multiplies very quickly.”
In addition to the lighter paper, United also redesigned its bathrooms, stopped selling duty-free products in flight, installed lighter seats and restocked the galley. United estimates that all the small changes in cut weight combined have saved the airline more than $2 billion in operating costs.
JetBlue is investing in lighter seatback entertainment systems. Southwest not only installed lighter seats on its planes but switched out glass bottles for cans. American Airlines pilots and flight attendants now have their manuals stored on tablets instead of heavy books or stacks of papers.
Manufacturers are making technological advancements in cutting weight. New aircraft like the Airbus A330neo and the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are designed with fuel economy in mind. New engines and lighter parts mean greater fuel efficiency (and greater savings) for airlines — which means cheaper flights for us.