Google Flights is the best, most powerful search platform to find cheap flights – and it's not particularly close. No other website makes it so simple to quickly zero in on the cheapest dates and places to fly, filter for the bags you need or airline you want to fly, and more.
But lately, the web search behemoth has gone beyond adding features that help travelers find a bargain – it's going green, too. On Wednesday, Google announced that almost every single flight result you see in Google Flights will now show the carbon emissions from that ticket.
This new carbon emissions display has been rolling out slowly to users over the last few weeks, but now it's fully fledged. Indeed, you should now see the carbon emissions for each and every flight – and how it compares to the average for the route you're looking at – next to the price and length of the flight. You can even sort your results to display the lowest-emission flights first.
Read our full guide to using Google Flights!
Hats off to Google Flights for this. Travel is so important: It's why we do what we do at Thrifty Traveler, helping people see more of the world for less. But flying comes with an environmental cost: Jet fuel and carbon emissions are a significant part of the problem. Flying is a privilege, and taking care of the planet is a responsibility.
That's why our team has been offsetting our carbon footprint for each and every flight we've taken since 2019. Environmentally conscious consumers have helped force airlines to double down on finding more sustainable, alternative fuel sources as well as pushing development of electronic planes.
But putting information about the environmental impact of flying at travelers' fingertips – and helping them make better environmental choices – on one of the world's biggest flight search platforms raises awareness on a truly massive scale.
“It’s critical that people can find consistent and accurate carbon emissions estimates no matter where they want to research or book their trip,” Google wrote in its announcement.
Want to make sure you're keeping your environmental impact in check on your next cheap flight? Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Newer planes are much better for carbon emissions than older jets. For example, two nearly identical KLM flights from New York City (JFK) to Amsterdam (AMS) have drastically different carbon footprints. The 9:30 p.m. flight on an older Boeing 777 emits nearly 43% more carbon than the earlier departure on a new generation Boeing 787-10.
- Taking a connection en route to your final destination can often save you money, but it often means a much higher carbon footprint.
- The bigger your seat, the higher your carbon footprint. Flying first and business class is always nice, but because those seats take up more space on each plane, you're ultimately responsible for more carbon emissions.
Bravo, Google. While we're always hoping for the next great Google Flights feature to find cheaper fares or avoid basic economy fares, this is more important.
It raises awareness about the environmental cost of flying from the very start. But more importantly, it gives consumers an easy way to make smarter, environmentally conscious choices for their travels. Giving travelers that much skin in the game is a critical step in the right direction.