OPINION: I'm not keen to jump on a polluting and crowded plane again

Portrait of a happy girl traveling and coloring in the plane while wearing a facemask – travel

Our desire to get away on a foreign holiday seems to cover over the fact our skies have been cleaner without planes, says Rachel Moore - Credit: Getty Images

How spoilt and entitled do people sound when they are whining about not knowing when, and if, they can fly off somewhere hot on holiday this year?

The amount of ‘I’m alright Jack, I’m vaccinated so I want to get on with my life now’ stropping is shameful.

How soon people forget. A year ago, they were on their doorsteps clanking pots and pans weeping crocodile tears for the tens of thousands of people dying from coronavirus, terrified to leave the house.

Now, it’s hangdog hard-done-by: “I just want to get out of this miserable country and get some sun after the long winter lockdown”, claiming deprivation of a natural right to travel.

Well, doesn’t everyone want the world to open up, but how quickly ‘we’re all in this together’ is forgotten?


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The irony that so many now “desperate” to get out of this country to Spanish beaches were those most vociferous five years ago to break from their beloved Europe they now crave so much.

You’d like to think that, instead of racing to change their so-cherished British pounds to Euros before you can say Ole, their priority would be recharging the UK economy with their annual holiday spending ahead of boosting the Spanish coffers, but hey. Memories are short and self-interest will always win with some.

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Most people though have reconciled themselves to staying in the UK this summer – 68pc of us, according to an Opinium poll. Not by choice though, with ‘getting away’ meaning flying overseas.

Some see this year as their duty to spend holiday budgets in the UK, throwing their money into the big black hole of the British economy and support the sectors hardest hit by the last year.

For those who have lost their businesses, jobs, loved ones and even homes, it must feel obscene to hear others drone on about missing out on their foreign holidays when many countries across Europe are suffering a third wave of Covid infections.

What it does do is throw a light on how cheap air travel has expanded our sense of entitlement to go where we want when we want.

And how quickly we have forgotten a key lesson of Covid.

Taking so many planes out of the sky last year brought a tangible improvement in air quality

Birds returned, the air was cleaner and the impact of carbon emissions from air travel was evident, in a time of climate crisis.

The effect was noticeable within weeks. It opened debate about a longer-term impact on reversing climate change by the aviation industry. People bought caravans, campervans and embraced camping in one of the best summers we could remember.

But that was last year. The novelty soon wore off.

A sniff of the chance of getting airborne and abroad again, and that lesson is quickly forgotten.

Britons are the most frequent international flyers, although a small minority are responsible for the vast majority of flights. Carbon consumption champions isn’t a title we should be proud to hold.

Aviation is responsible for 7% of emissions now and is expected overtake all other sources by 2050.

Surely now is the time for real soul-searching and a rethink how we travel and see the world without destroying it by getting there and back.

Are those trips worth the impact on climate change? How does mindful travel become desirable and achievable?

When will people wake up to wanting better than to be herded like cattle through airports to sit crowded like battery hens in airless planes? To them, it’s a price worth paying, but is the wider cost on the future for our children and children’s children.

The last year has delivered us clearer skies and cleaner air almost overnight.

Fewer flights have been proved to make a positive impact.

Holidaying at home, discovering and exploring parts of the UK we’ve never been to will do better for the UK’s fortunes.

All encouraging flying will do is breathe life into an ailing industry, which is undoubtedly needed as the sector is on its knees.

But is urging people back on to planes the right thing to do? Industries have to change with the times, and it’s time now for us all to reconsider how we view and use air travel, and what will happen if we don’t.

Other nation’s people are waking up to the impact In Sweden last year, air passenger numbers fell by 5% as rail numbers went up. The issue with our rail network, costs, reliability is a whole different challenge that needs sorting, but it offers a different way.

Records showed that 2019 was the second-hottest year on the planet’s surface, and the hottest-ever for the oceans. Our climate issues are getting worse every year

Why, when we now how air travel is exacerbating this destruction, are so many of us desperate to do it for a week in the sun? Does the benefit to us outweigh the overall cost? That’s a personal choice and decision for everyone, but are we making informed choices?

Electric flight is a long way off but will come.

Last year’s pause in holidaying and sight of clearer skies has delivered an opportunity to think carefully about how our holiday choices will shape the world few will leave behind for our grand and great grandchildren.

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