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Google’s New Feature Helps You Choose the Most Eco-Friendly Flight

Find out how to use Google Flights to see carbon emissions estimates.

Written by
Kylie Fuller

Google Flights revolutionized the process for finding flights that fit all your travel needs. Displaying all airlines, calendars, connections, and prices in one place, it's one of the most popular flight search engines. Now, it's added one more critical feature in trip planning: carbon emissions.

Airplanes are one of the worst carbon emitters. A single transatlantic flight can create more carbon emissions than a person creates in an entire year. But some flights (and seats!) are worse than others. Most newer airplanes emit less carbon than older ones. However, premium seats account for more emissions than economy seats because they take up more space.

"It’s critical that people can find consistent and accurate carbon emissions estimates no matter where they want to research or book their trip."

—Richard Holden, Google's vice president of travel products

"It’s critical that people can find consistent and accurate carbon emissions estimates no matter where they want to research or book their trip," said Richard Holden, Google's vice president of travel products, in a press release from October 2021. "This update to Google Flights is just one of the many ways we’re helping people make sustainable choices in their everyday lives."

Last month, Google announced a similar feature to search for eco-friendly hotels. As part of Google's plan to go carbon neutral by 2030, it has released a host of tools to help customers make sustainable decisions. These tools include new features to purchase appliances that have lower carbon footprints, a Nest program to support clean energy from home, and eco-friendly routing on Google Maps.

If you're looking to travel more sustainably, but can't avoid flying, check out how to use Google Flights' carbon checker below.

How to Use Google Flights' Carbon Emissions Feature

To take advantage of Google's new feature, simply go to Google Flights and search for your desired flight. Under the sorting tab, click "CO2 emissions" to display the total carbon emissions in kilograms for each flight.

Users can also view Google's color-coded analysis of emissions to help put the numbers into context. Low-emission flights depend on the distance traveled and the size of the plane, but they can be hard to find. Google has labeled more sustainable flights and seats in green text.

For example, flights in green may be labeled -10% emissions, which means they emit 10% less carbon than a typical flight of the same distance. Now, you won't have any trouble finding the most sustainable option.

The Takeaway

Flights may be serious emitters, but it's difficult (if not impossible) for us to avoid air travel entirely. Google's new feature allows you to make the most sustainable choice possible. Pair this tool with the eco-friendly hotel search to make your trips more sustainable than ever.