Virgin Atlantic sells carbon offsets onboard

Sonic stain removers, metal puzzle wall art, infrared wine thermometers, and carbon offsets? Yup, Virgin Atlantic is giving SkyMall a run for its money by offering passengers the chance to purchase carbon offsets for their flight during the flight itself.

The airline has obviously thought this one through. On its carbon offsets page, you can find the reasoning behind the program. It adheres to high offsetting standards and focuses the money passengers give not on tree planting, but on projects designed to "facilitate the move from fossil fuels to renewable energies." Calculating the cost takes into account the mileage of the flight, the class (first class passengers pay more since the seats are heavier), and the cargo onboard.

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There's even a response to the implicit question about whether or not carbon offsets are effective or hypocritical, especially coming from an airline. Basically, Virgin Atlantic's answer to that one is that it makes sense if it's done in conjunction with emissions reductions, and it goes on to reiterate the airline's commitment to reducing carbon emissions by 21,000 tons by the end of the financial year, and to improve fuel efficiency by 30 percent by 2020.

I'm curious to see how successful this tactic of getting people to purchase offsets onboard will be. In the rush of preparing for a trip, it's an easy thing to let slip by the wayside, especially if you're ambivalent about offsets to begin with. But giving people compelling information and the option to purchase offsets onboard, when the impact of travel seems more immediate? Well, I bet I would end up buying the offset.

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