Alternative Would Have Been To Deadhead, Spokesman Says
It was probably a great flight for the passengers... but at
least one environmental group is up in arms over the news American
Airlines recently flew a Boeing 777 from Chicago to London, with
only five paying customers onboard.
London's Daily Telegraph reports the February 9 trip
accommodated passengers bumped from a cancelled flight. The airline
was able to arrange alternate travel plans for all but five of the
customers from that plane, one of four daily routes American
operates from Chicago to London.
So American put those passengers on their own 777. The Telegraph
notes the airline also upgraded them to "business class."
A spokesman for American noted there was no alternative. Had
American put the passengers on other flights, the airline still
would have had to deadhead an empty 777 to London, in order to
handle the return flight from Heathrow.
"With such a small passenger load we did consider whether we
could cancel the flight and re-accommodate the five remaining
passengers on other flights," the unidentified spokesman said.
"However, this would have left a plane load of west-bound
passengers stranded in London Heathrow who were due to fly back to
the US on the same aircraft.
"We sought alternative flights for
the west-bound passengers but heavy loads out of London that day
meant that this was not possible," the spokesman said, adding
American lost £30,000 -- about $60,000 -- on the flight.
That explanation didn't placate the environmentalist group
Friends of the Earth, however -- which noted each passenger on the
flight produced 43 tons of carbon monoxide, and consumed fuel
equivalent to driving a small family sedan around the world five
"Flying virtually empty planes is an obscene waste of fuel,"
said group representative Richard Dyer. "Through no fault of their
own , each passenger's carbon footprint for this flight is about 45
times what it would have been if the plane had been full.
"Governments must stop granting the aviation industry the unfair
privileges that allow this to happen by taxing aviation fuel and
including emissions from aviation in international," he added.
In any case, we encourage our readers NOT to think of this
story, the next time you're stuck in a coach-class middle seat from
New York to Paris.