Even if greener air travel is more expensive, passengers—and particularly women—say they're willing to pay for it.

By Stacey Leasca
January 23, 2020

To put it simply, Mother Nature needs our help—and turns out women just might be her most loyal allies. In a new study by experts at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida, researchers found that women were more likely to "display more environmentally friendly attitudes and behavior than men," including a willingness to pay more for environmentally friendly flights with lower greenhouse emissions.

"The authors found that women have demonstrated more concern for the environment, society, and tend to be more pro-social. This could be due to an increased value for the future due to their nurturing nature," the study’s authors write. 

To come to this conclusion, researchers presented 1,192 participants with a hypothetical scenario about flying in a commercial airplane that was designed to provide a 10 to 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gases. Participants were then asked about their willingness to pay an additional 5 percent, 10 percent or 15 percent increase in the ticket price for each of the reduction increments.

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The results showed, in general, the greater the reductions in greenhouse gases, the greater the willingness to pay the additional ticket price. However, the female participants showed more willingness than the men to pay additional fees. This conclusion, the authors note, was even more pronounced for shorter domestic flight options.

Still, even women have their limits when it comes to ticket pricing. The authors explained all participants had their "cut off" point when it came to how much they would spend. For example, participants given the 10 percent ticket increase condition were not willing to pay the additional fee unless they were assured there would be at least a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gases. In the 15 percent ticket increase condition, participants were only willing to pay extra if they saw a 40 percent reduction.

"Many suggest that one difficulty with combating climate change is the separation of responsibility accounted for by both genders," the authors report in their findings. "In other words, research indicates that women are more likely to display more environmentally friendly attitudes and behavior than men. In addition, men are more likely to litter and not participate in recycling techniques, and are less likely to use green products such as reusable water bottles." 

The authors explain that this willingness to pay a bit more (by both genders) should be an important indicator to the airlines that it’s time to step up its game. The researchers point to the fact that, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, nearly 3 percent of the world's greenhouse emissions is caused by the aviation industry. That percentage could largely be mitigated by working toward creating greener aircrafts, adopting alternative fuel sources, developing more environmentally friendly airports, and increasing flight efficiency.

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These findings are rather closely aligned to others showing that one in three consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable vacations and that a full 66 percent of global consumers are willing to pay more for all sustainable goods

And listen up airlines: The authors want you to use their data however you wish to ensure a greener future for all.

"Airline executives and marketing teams can use this data to set prices and develop marketing campaigns," the team stated. "Furthermore, these marketing campaigns can also guide the green movement to target not only females but males as well. This can help reduce and hopefully eliminate the idea that sustainability is a feminine movement and incorporate all who want to participate in reducing their carbon footprint."

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