By Cailey Rizzo
October 15, 2019

Your frequent flier air miles could be damaging the environment, according to a new report from the UK government’s climate advisory committee.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) published a report last week which encouraged the government to ban airline loyalty programs and issue a levy on frequent fliers in order to reduce carbon emissions from the aviation industry, according to CNN.

“If averaged over all households, UK aviation now makes up around 12% of a household’s carbon footprint,” the report said. But this figure is far from standard. In reality, there are great variations between households where several members are frequent fliers and those that rarely, if ever, board a plane. According to CNN, the report estimates that half of the UK populations doesn’t board a single flight and 70 percent of flights are taken by 15 percent of the population in a given year.

The levy aims to reduce what it calls “excessive flying” by issuing a tax on the most frequent fliers. It would not affect something like a family that goes on vacation once per year. The levy would also affect first class passengers more than those in economy (first class tickets can produce up to seven times the carbon emissions of an economy ticket because of “more spacious cabins and unfilled seats,” according to the report.)

Commercial Airlines
Credit: JOHAN NILSSON/Getty Images

The program would coincide with frequent flier miles. Obviously, the longer a flight is, the more carbon it emits. By focusing the level on the number of miles accrued, the program would ensure that a passenger who regularly travels short-haul flights would not pay as much as someone who was regularly boarding long-haul.

Travel from work would also be kept separate from personal travel so businesses would be paying for the environmental impact of sending employees on work trips.

The proposal also calls into question the habits of those who board flights just to maintain their frequent flier status status. The report proposes that by eliminating airline status, they could wipe out frequent fliers’ “status runs” or “mileage runs” solely to accrue miles.

It is important to note that this is just a report and still has quite a long way to go before it could be introduced to parliament as a bill. And even if the bans and taxes were introduced in the UK, it would not affect American travelers.