Passenger Journey

There are many elements and touchpoints to sustainability in aviation, so to help map some of them out we are going to move through a typical passenger journey – from travelling to the airport, at the airport before we get on a flight and on the flight itself. We’ll consider about what environmental impacts may arise, who they might impact and who might be responsible for mitigating them.

Let’s start with the journey to the airport…

The environmental impacts of aviation aren’t just at an airport or on the flight – surface access refers to all the ways in which passengers, communities, colleagues and goods travel to and from an airport.

Surface access is important because the way that people/goods travel to and from an airport has an effect on the way the airport operates, on the quality of life of its neighbours (including due to noise and air pollutants levels from traffic), on traffic flows in surrounding roads and on the amount of carbon the airport emits.

Passengers can influence the overall environmental impact of their journey by considering different options for getting to the airport.

How did you travel to the airport when you last flew?

Further Information

Public Transportation Integration:

Airports often collaborate with local transportation authorities to integrate their facilities with public transportation networks, such as buses, trains, and subways. This can make it easier for passengers to reach the airport without relying on personal vehicles.

Ride-Sharing and Taxi Services:

Airports are increasingly accommodating ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft

Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure:

Some airports are investing in infrastructure to make it easier for passengers and employees to access the airport by foot or bicycle. This includes well-designed pedestrian walkways, bike paths, and secure bike storage facilities.

Airport Shuttle Services:

Many airports operate shuttle services that connect key transportation hubs, such as train stations and parking facilities, to the airport terminals. These shuttles facilitate the movement of passengers and reduce the need for private vehicle trips.

Multi-Modal Transportation Hubs:

Some airports are evolving into multi-modal transportation hubs that seamlessly integrate air, ground, and rail transportation. This integration allows passengers to easily transfer between different modes of transportation.

Technology Solutions:

Airports are leveraging technology to enhance surface access. For example, smart parking systems, traffic monitoring, and real-time information about public transportation schedules can help passengers plan their journeys more effectively.

Long-Term Planning and Expansion:

Airports often engage in long-term planning to anticipate future growth and ensure that surface access infrastructure can handle increasing passenger volumes. This may involve expanding roads, optimizing traffic flow, and collaborating with urban planning authorities.

At the Airport

Once we arrive at the airport, there are sustainability touchpoints both within and outside the terminal building. They also exist outside the boundaries of the airport itself, as communities and the environment near the periphery of an airport can be impacted. As we explored in the quiz, environmental sustainability in aviation is also not just about emissions – we also consider noise, air quality and biodiversity when thinking about aviation’s impacts. It is important to think broadly because sustainability is a holistic concept, and we have to think about how aviation as a whole impacts both those who choose to use it and those on the ground.

Picture yourselves at an airport, getting ready to fly. Identify all of the possible touchpoints with sustainability before your flight takes off.

To begin, start typing in the boxes below, answering what you think are the touchpoints for each of the four areas highlighted. As you type, answers will start to populate – you will need to click on the answer that is the closest match to what you wanted to say. I.e. You wanted to enter ‘food waste’ so you would choose ‘waste food’.

The Flight

The flight itself, including take-off and landing, is a contributor to noise, emissions and particulate matter, which can have negative environmental impacts in terms of climate change, noise disruption and air quality, as well as other direct impacts on the local environment.

There are a range of stakeholders with different responsibilities for reducing these environmental impacts during each stage of a flight.

List all the roles that you think these stakeholders have / should have in contributing to reducing/minimising the environmental impacts of flights
For example, an air traffic controller could direct an aircraft on a shorter (safe) available route to save fuel!

You’ve arrived at your destination

In summary:

In the next activity, we will consider three different proposals for more sustainable aviation fuels.

Take a moment to think about these elements and touchpoints of sustainability next time you are on your passenger journey! 

Let’s now look at some sustainability solutions that are being worked on in the aviation industry.