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“Flight Shaming” or Flygskam simply will not work in the USA. Airline travel trumps “Train Brag” or Tågskryt!

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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.


From Great Circle Mapper gcmap.com

Lastly year my wife, over 6 months of the year, flew enough to earn her Diamond Medallion status (that is 125,000 elite miles with Delta). While she has flown a bit less this year I am on track to also rack up a ton of elite points for 2019. Is all this flying bad for the environment? Sure, but if you want to visit many far points in the USA, air is the way to go.

I was never this young – was I?

In cast you were not aware, a movement that started in Sweden seems to be taking hold in Europe, that is, “flygskam” or shaming folks for flying over taking a train. If you do train vs. fly you can “tågskryt” or train brag that you take the train vs. flying. In my visit last month to Sweden I was even asked if this is becoming “a thing” in the USA as well.

Uh, no. Not gonna happen here.

Now I am as concerned about the environment as the next person and take steps to limit my carbon footprint – but not when it comes to flying. Now granted, as someone who enjoys a mileage run I know I am over the top when it comes to flying but I love travel as a job and a free time adventure. Now I do my share of staying home and earning elite points without flying via creative card spending so I look at that as a win=win for the environment (right?)! 😉

Plus, when it comes to the USA, this country really just is too big to not fly where you want to go. Oh, and the rail system in this country is simply nothing like those in Europe (and other places on the planet).

I guess I just want your input today. Have you ever heard about flight shaming before? Does it bother you the impact on the planet your flying has? Do you ever buy carbon offsets to have an impact on your travels? Would you fly less if you could take a train where you want to go? Shout out what you think about all of this in the comment section below! – 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.

19 Comments

  1. On a forum on which I post, I recently remarked that I fly a few times per year internationally in premium cabins by using points. A number of posters expressed disgust, telling me I should be ashamed of myself.

    Now granted, this particular forum has many European members and leans quite far to the left by American standards.

    As for myself, I don’t feel the slightest guilt for my upcoming trip on ANA first class to Tokyo, and will revel in drinking Krug champagne and Hibiki 21 year whiskey at 35,000 feet as I prepare for a restful night’s sleep. I never buy carbon offsets, and only take the train in other countries if the trip is no more than a few hundred miles.

  2. My carbon footprint is probably smaller than 90% of the people shaming so my flying would still probably add up to less. It would also be good to know the offset in carbon from a train to plane many trains in Europe still use diesel

  3. You can’t just single out flying. What about those who commute 100 miles a day round trip every day alone in a car or people who have 5 kids and drive a great big SUV which gets less than 15 mpg. And what about those that fly private?

  4. Or shame those who have pets…just google “dog equals SUV” and see what pops up.

  5. I could maybe see Acela vs flying in certain circumstances, but otherwise in the US? Forget it.

  6. Barry Graham

    If you were really concerned about your carbon footprint then you wouldn’t be flying. However you shouldn’t be concerned about your carbon footprint since there is no proof that carbon footprint and climate change are related. I do believe we need to take care of the planet and limit the damage we do but I and lots of trees don’t believe that emitting carbon dioxide is one of those damaging things. Personally I am more worried about the trees. Enjoy your flights and let G-d manage the climate for us as He has always done and will always do.

  7. Barry Graham

    @Nick we have six kids and we drive a minivan and you are right, I think the driving is probably at least as damaging as flying.

  8. Most Swedes whom I know seem to fly a lot and take the train a lot. If the SEK weren’t so weak, they would probably be flying at least as much or more than usual.

    Most Americans whom I know have: less time to fly for leisure; fly less frequently than Swedes of comparable socio-economic background; and don’t have the the train as much of an option given how poorly Amtrak serves most communities.

  9. It’d be great if the was better train service within the US – even within FL – I’d use it if it was useful, but it’s not yet.

    Brightline in S. FL looks good, wonder how far they’ll eventually go (beyond ORL/TPA I mean). If high speed rail came to JAX I could use it to MCO/MIA to get international flights…

  10. AlohaDaveKennedy

    Meh – why Flygskam when you can Kryssningsfartygskam! Who wants to sit in a cramped airline seat when they can have a roomy cabin on a cruise ship!

  11. Right, another issue that deserves zero attention.

    Is train travel carbon free? Are all electric for train from Windmill etc.? In US, the trains are mostly diesel, our country is too big to electrify all train tracks.
    Next we should ban air-mail/packaging shipped via air.
    While we are at it, ban all imports from Asia because that’s guzzling a lot of fuel. And quit driving cars.
    Yes we consume too much, could do with less, but such arguments simply distract from the solution… which should be employing all forms of energy conservation in our daily lives.

  12. Speaking as a European, I first heard the term somewhere on Boardingarea blogs. I used to do all of Europe by night train for many years, when I had the time, and it was an adventurous and rewarding experience. For 13 years I’ve been mostly flying though, first for time constraints and then they hooked me with the loyalty game (FB Plat).

    Would I return to trains? I still take them for short distances where there’s no plane (not a driver) and ‘last mile’ from airport to my destination. But for longer distances it still makes no time sense.

  13. FarleyFarley

    I am very concerned about global warming, and in recent years I have been focused on reducing my carbon footprint. I ride a bike for transportation, I am a vegetarian, and also own an electric car. I have recently heard about flygskam and the argument is very powerful to me, because everything I do to reduce my carbon footprint is *completely* wiped out by taking a single trans-Atlantic or cross-country airplane trip.

    I am considering diverting more of my travel to rail, even though it sucks in the USA. I live in the Twin Cities and often fly to Chicago and New York with my family of 4. The very notion of flygskam has me researching the Amtrak timetables for upcoming trips.

    Yes, it’s more expensive and the service is unreliable. But fighting global warming will require sacrifices.

    Is it possible that flygskam could increase the demand for passenger rail travel in the USA? And thus build political pressure to improve the awful state of American rail travel? The comments on this thread are not encouraging. But it’s definitely a thought I’m having right now anyway.

  14. Pingback: These people want you to be ashamed of flying. Should you change your vacation plans? – Salt Lake City Businesses

  15. I just hate stupid fads, especially when it’s in the name of good when it doesn’t really make any sense. I would be concerned about a coal power plant opening, but To be mad about the carbon footprint for flying on jet, especially if in one of the newer Airbus and Boeing designs. That’s stupid. That’s one of the least carbon intensive ways you can travel. Now if you’re flying around saying within France where they get the majority of their power from nuclear, then it probably is best to go by TGV train. Not everywhere is like France. Asked for here in the US. I will take your typical flight cruising speed of 500 mph in the airplane. And that’s not even the top speed of the airplane and it doesn’t even account for the advantage of being able to fly in the jetstream and go even faster without burning any more fuel. Compared to the worlds fastest train to date at half this, trains still have a ways to go.

  16. John Sims

    I think it comes down to simple marketing. The whole ‘fly shaming’ was probably started by the Sweden train companies seeing a dip in their profits due to more people choosing the faster method of flying. Same thing with hotels ‘shaming’ you for asking for your towels to be washed or sheets changed by housekeeping. It’s about the bottom line. There’s nothing wrong with earning a profit, as long as it is earned honestly.

  17. Trust the Europeans to create a new excuse for hatred. In Canada The facts point to the opposite. For trips more than a few 100 km flying is the most environmentally friendly form of travel beating a car with a solo traveler hands down. The new Canadian built CSeries regional jet get less than 2.0 liters per 100 km per passenger seat, Flys in a straight line asphalt free, without chewing up 1000s of acres of farmland or forest.
    I understand that in Europe, where the rail network is built up and the cities are only a few hundred km apart, rail might be better, but to immediately latch onto this point to shame those flying under all conditions is wrong. It is a window into the mindset of bias and bigotry that has unfortunately shape the worst parts of European history, and needs to be deal with.

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