This Dutch Airline Is Encouraging People to Fly Less Frequently

Campaign highlights KLM’s sustainability efforts

KLM is asking both travelers and the aviation industry to find ways to reduce the environmental impact of flying.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

Did you really need to take that cross-country flight for your cousin’s wedding last year? Was it necessary to fly to that meeting in Singapore, or could you have joined via Skype?

These are the types of questions that KLM Royal Dutch Airlines wants us to collectively ponder, as we’ve become a society that’s obsessed with flying. And it’s taking a toll on our environment: According to the International Air Transport Association, civil aviation as a whole emitted around 859 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2017, which is roughly two percent of man-made carbon emissions.

In a campaign called “Fly Responsibly,” the airline is marking its 100th year in business by asking travelers to stop and think before booking their next flight.

Created by DDB Unlimited, the ad declares that “no actual flights were taken for the making of this film” at the end.

The spot kicks off a call to action of sorts for the airline, as it asks both travelers and the aviation industry to consider what steps can be taken to alleviate the environmental impact of flying.

For instance, the video suggests taking a train for shorter trips instead of automatically booking a flight, or partaking in a carbon offset program if flying is absolutely necessary (KLM has its own called CO2ZERO).

Additionally, an ad featuring an open letter from KLM’s CEO Pieter Elbers recently ran in newspapers including The Guardian, The New York Times and USA Today. In the letter, Elbers admits that while KLM has “made serious progress” through weight reductions, recycling, carbon offsetting and a sustainable fuel plant, it still doesn’t “have all the answers.”

Even so, he encourages other airlines to join KLM in working towards “sustainable aviation.” A dedicated “Fly Responsibly” website also lists ways that both travelers and the industry can help.

”When we first created the line ‘Fly Responsibly’ the whole team instantly had the feeling that this could be big. And it grew bigger and bigger,” said Ed van Bennekom, creative director at DDB Unlimited, in a statement. “Fly Responsibly is much more than an awareness logo. It’s a movement inviting the entire aviation industry and air travelers to join forces. We hope other airlines will follow soon and embrace this initiative.”

While the effort will surely be dismissed as greenwashing by some, hopefully it will at least get people to reconsider what is and isn’t worth traveling for next time they’re about to drop money on a flight.