The Airfare Increase You Might Welcome

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Air travel is nonsense cost-wise, but in most cases, it's the best option we've got. That's why we swallow our aggravation at the escalating series of add-ons that show up on our tickets, for everything from checking bags to extending legroom. Not every addition to our base fare is unwelcome, though — especially if we're told about it the right way.

Behavioral scientists at the University of British Columbia have just released a study about whether airline passengers can be coaxed into paying for carbon offsets. Traveling by plane is a fuel-intensive process no matter how you cut it, but that doesn't mean it's impossible to make it earth-friendly. Many businesses are experimenting with buying credits that invest in green technology or processes to counteract the emissions that come with their operations. When consumers are offered a small fee that's part of an "aviation fuel production and import" or "airplane travel" offset charge, they're happier to pay it.

That's in part because it's seen as targeting the fossil fuel industry, the largest culprit behind climate change. Calling the charge an offset, rather than a tax, makes fliers feel like they're doing something good to make up for the effect they'll have on the environment. This could be more necessary than ever going forward: According to UBC, "In the absence of policy changes, emissions from air travel are on track to triple over the coming decades."

Many of us are always on the hunt for ways to help stem the tide of climate change. If something as small as wording on a line item can make a difference, think of what else we can improve with a little effort.