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Should mileage runners worry / pay to offset their carbon footprint? Have you used the Delta carbon tool?

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


estimate your carbon impact flying delta

Let me get one thing out of the way, that is, I am firmly in the camp that a multi-billion dollar airline is going to fly a route with or without one or two mileage runners. I also doubt, unless the fare is only one day and for one route and is so insanely cheap a pack of mileage runners could ever “fill up” a jet (not even a CRJ200). In other words, the jet will fly with or without a mileage runner so the “impact” on the planet only really changes by the weight of my body and luggage to get me from A to B (ok, from A>B>C>D>E>F>and so on).

Having dropped that disclaimer, I do worry and care about our big blue marble. I recycle all I can at home and think about where I toss things in hotels and such and look for recycling receptacles. Even when I am out MSing I try to pick the best route to burn the least gas (yeah, well, maybe just driving around to make free points is not the *best* example to show how much I care for the planet). 😉

delta selling hotels cars and more when you buy a ticket

Well did you know Delta sorta cares about your carbon footprint. I mean not when you go to buy a ticket, as then all they do is try to up-sell you everything under the sun like cars, hotels, insurance, wifi, and on and on (many of those things have an impact on the earth too). But Delta does have THIS web page that is a carbon calculator (a little less hidden than the Delta award charts btw) that asks you to put in your PNR i.e. your reservation number or to manually put in segment by segment to see what the dollar impact “should” be for your trip.

what delta thinks i should donate to offset my carbon burn for my milage run

Take for example my last run from MCO to SAN for dinner and back. Delta suggests that I created almost a metric ton of CO2 and I should donate $12 to offset my trip. I could bring out my US Bank FlexPerks card since it gives me 3x points for donations to charity so I would get about 6% back for donating this way. Or, I could give back some of the massive 2,600 SkyMiles I earned as a Diamond for the run (the MQMs were 5,600 and the point of the trip – mostly).

the nature conservancy from delta

donate skymiles to charity delta

Delta only lets you donate in increments of 1,000 and they are again here saying that a point is worth 1 cent each. I don’t subscribe to that metric and it really makes me angry that Delta is going to a SkyMile being worth a flat 1 cent each as at this point the program has become worthless compared to just about ever other program on the planet. I would never EVER donate my SkyMiles to a charity as I get more value using them for travel in business class to amazing locations on the planet.

Personally I think any travel company asking users to offset their impact is just silly. If we follow this logic then why not have a tip jar when you walk into a fast food restaurant to offset the higher health care costs that result from obesity in this country? Or, since farming uses a ton of fuel both to run machinery as well as fertilizer, why not when you buy your groceries a tip jar to offset the fuel used to make our food we buy. Folks, we could do this all day long for both necessary and non-essential activities.

But you tell me. Is Delta, or another company, really genuine when they promote that “we” should pay to offset our carbon burn or is it all just a marketing “feel good” thing. Plus, have you ever donated to offset your carbon burn when flying? – René

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.

13 Comments

  1. We all offset out carbon footprint with every breath. The “carbon” crisis is a scam of epic proportion.

  2. Coldagglutannin Reply

    @Kevin I’m not sure you know how human respiration works…we are not plants. That said the burden of carbon offset should be on the company.

  3. Aside from this being part of the whole global cooling-warming-climate change money grab, at least know where your money is going to go. Donate to something that you’ve researched and know that the money is being used responsibly. Don’t just click and donate to some random place. Too many scam charities out there.

  4. While I agree that the carbon offset donation may be questionable, there is the more direct question of flying just to get frequent flier points (aka mileage run). This is creating tons of carbon emissions for no greater purpose than to game a system. And yes, even 1 or 2 extra people with no place to go, reduces my chances as a business traveler of getting a well-earned upgrade.

    • @Glenn – Explain to me how when I am spending my money to fly for whatever reason I choose that I have less right to an upgrade over you as a business traveler. I am confused!

  5. TexasYankee Reply

    This carbon footprint as promoted by the airlines is just a big “smokescreen!” Delta just made Billions $$ and yet they expect the passenger to help contribute to reducing the carbon footprint. Where does that money actually go? Now I firmly believe that global warming is real and is causing future harm to the planet. Perhaps the airlines should be more concerned by innovative advancements in aircraft and etc. than to be concerned with the customer paying for the damage the airlines causes. Does this mean that soon we will see Delta telling us that we must pay more for comfort plus seats because they produce a higher carbon footprint due to the massive extra legroom involved?

  6. Delta (or anyone for that matter) asking me to donate money because I used their service is laughable.

    Just let that marinate on your brain for a wee while…

    Ummm, No way.

  7. @Glenn I was just about to ask what @Rene asked. Please enlighten us on why a mileage runner isn’t just as entitled to an upgrade as someone traveling for business? Don’t even say it’s because your business pays more for your seat.

  8. Most carbon footprint calculator are quite inaccurate. How would $12 offset the carbon? What method are they using to offset, plant trees in the rainforest? I believe this topic raises more questions than it solves. The way Delta has been acting they probably just pocket the donations.

  9. At the end of each year, total my miles flown for the year, and make a donation to another charity that plants trees as my carbon offset. I don’t donate to Delta’s program, because I have no insight into how they spend the money. I’d also rather get the tax credit for the donation.

  10. dotti cahill Reply

    carbon footprint donations are a scam!! The liberals that push that stuff still fly around alone on their private jets total hypocrisy!!! who gets allof the CARBON dollars and what do they do with them???? nuts

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