• Business Business

Airlines are offering a new way to earn bonus miles — here's what you need to know

"It will take all of us to grow this market."

"It will take all of us to grow this market."

Photo Credit: iStock

Every day, more people are becoming cognizant of the need for sustainable travel. In response, some forward-thinking airlines are offering loyalty points and other incentives to passengers who choose to offset the carbon pollution from their flights.

Airlines, including Brussels, Alaska, Southwest, Etihad, and Singapore, are leading the way by rewarding eco-conscious travelers through their frequent flyer programs, according to Simple Flying.

What are airline carbon offset programs?

Carbon offset programs allow passengers to pay a fee to support projects that reduce pollution in our atmosphere, such as planting trees or investing in clean energies.

These programs help counteract the damage done to the atmosphere by flying, which accounts for an estimated 2.5% of all planet-overheating carbon pollution. 

Getting rewarded for fighting pollution

Some airlines are making it more appealing for travelers to make a positive environmental choice by offering frequent flyer points, miles, and other perks for offsetting their flights in some way. 

Passengers on Alaska Airlines flights, for example, are rewarded with miles for purchasing sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) credits to offset the environmental impact of their travels. 

Diana Birkett Rakow, senior VP of public affairs and sustainability at Alaska Airlines, explained in a press release why airlines need to prioritize the use of SAFs, which can cut pollution by up to 80%

"SAF is a critical part of aviation's path to a more sustainable future, and while we use it today, there is not enough SAF available. It will take all of us to grow this market," Rakow said. "The more people who know about and support this important technology, the better we can impact efforts to make a sustainable future for air travel a reality."

🗣️ Which of the following sustainable changes would make you most likely to choose a particular airline?

🔘 Using cleaner fuel ⛽

🔘 Reducing in-flight waste 🗑️

🔘 Making it easy to choose low-emissions itineraries 📋

🔘 I don't pay attention to sustainability when I fly ✈️

🗳️ Click your choice to see results and speak your mind

How do carbon offsets work with frequent flyer programs?

Each airline's offset incentive program works a bit differently:

  • Brussels Airlines gives 10-20% bonus points and miles for booking "Green Fares" that use SAF or support certified climate-protecting projects.
  • Alaska Airlines offers 500 elite qualifying miles per $100 contribution to sustainable fuel, up to 5,000 miles per year.
  • Southwest Airlines provides 10 points per dollar spent on offsets (up to 500 bonus points per month) and matches each dollar to retire additional offsets.
  • Etihad Airways awards tier miles for sustainable choices like bringing less baggage and buying eco-friendly products.
  • Singapore Airlines and Scoot give up to 150 KrisFlyer miles per every Singapore dollar (about 0.75 USD) spent toward offsets through projects that boost such things as solar power, clean cookstoves, and forest preservation.

Are carbon offsets enough to curb pollution?

While carbon offsets can help fight pollution, they're not a complete solution on their own. We must also cut pollution directly by moving away from dirty fuels to clean energy.

For airlines, this means both developing and using SAFs and also incentivizing passengers to take other sustainable steps. So, next time you book a flight, consider offsetting your pollution. 

Beyond flying, credible offset programs, like those vetted by Wren, help reduce pollution created from other parts of life. Now more than ever, investing in verified offset projects is important as other offsetting programs have received flack for failing to deliver on their promises to reduce pollution. 

Besides the transparency and credibility that Wren provides for its offset projects, part of what makes the company unique is its emphasis on making other sustainable changes to fight the planet's overheating. 

The company promotes the use of clean, abundant energies like solar power, either through the use of rooftop panels or by joining a community solar program. 

Join our free newsletter for cool news and actionable info that makes it easy to help yourself while helping the planet.

Cool Divider