Air New Zealand has a Carbon Offset programme and that’s a really good thing. I wish it was more attractive to flyers, though. If you don’t normally offset your flight’s carbon footprint, I’m curious to hear if the changes I propose below would make you more interested in participating in this programme.
At KiwiFoo this year I spoke to a few smart people and asked them if they offset their carbon footprint when flying Air NZ. People looked away, shrugged, and shook their heads. When asked why, their answers were a variation around the same theme: it felt futile, and a bit of a waste of time and money.
The rest of this blog post details how I believe this programme can be rejuvenated. I believe more people would participate in the programme if they felt appreciated and rewarded.
People are asked to spend money in order to offset their flights. There is even a calculator for that.
The offset cost for a return flight from Wellington to Auckland, as far as I know, can be as low as $2.49.
In return for that, what you get is just a good feeling. And that should be enough. But it’s not in our human nature for an anonymous good gesture like that to become the norm. What humans need is rewards, or, as we like to call it nowadays, a strong value proposition.
What if, upon paying to offset the carbon emissions, flyers get the following in return:
- A bag tag (or an insert in the vein of the orange priority tag that Star Alliance Gold members receive) that makes the bag stand out. How about a Pohutukawa insert that flyers can pick up somewhere near the check-in machines? This would be very similar to how Electric Vehicles often carry a blue badge.
- Luggage priority (value!). That would require the creation of a middle tier in luggage processing. Orange priority tags > Pohutukawa tags > Regular.
- Upweight for OneUp. Currently, these are the upweight tiers: Elite – 50%, Gold – 30%, Silver – 10%. What if Pohutukawa was 5%?
- A creative, community designed, visual representation of the flyer’s aggregate contribution on the Air New Zealand website and apps.
When other travellers see repeatedly the Pohutukawa Bag Tag insert, they may become curious with regards to what it represents. They may even learn more about the programme, and they may be encouraged to try it.
For each flight, let all the flyers see how much of the carbon footprint has been offset. Visually, that could be as simple as colouring in an Air NZ plane. Better still, maybe there is a way to produce a heat-map of the plane showcasing where the carbon offset spending occurred.
When there is a positive offset (ie. more carbon was offset than produced), then maybe there can be a new form of reward for the fliers who contributed (e.g. discount on the carbon offset cost of their next flight).
I’m secretly hoping somebody from Air New Zealand comes across this blog post and it inspires them to look at the Carbon Offset Programme once again. Is it producing the results that they were hoping it would? Are there ways to make it more attractive to flyers and to encourage them to contribute? I am a Star Alliance Gold member, I fly a lot more than I’d like to, and I often forget that this programme exists.