United is using the Flight for the Planet to evaluate key measures of flying as sustainably as possible using the airline’s current technology, resources and fuel-saving procedures. The flight departed from gate B12 at United’s hometown hub of Chicago O’Hare for its “eco-hub” in Los Angeles, where sustainable aviation biofuel has helped power all the airline’s flights from the Southern California hub since 2016.
“The historic Flight for the Planet showcases United’s philosophy of working together to find new and innovative ways to lead us into a more sustainable future,” said Scott Kirby, United’s president. “As an airline, we see our environment from a unique perspective every day and we know we must do our part to protect our planet and our skies.” The Flight for the Planet further illustrates United’s commitment to its bold pledge to reduce its carbon footprint by 50% by 2050.
United is powering the Flight for the Planet using a 30/70 blend of low-carbon, sustainable aviation fuel provided by Boston-based World Energy, and traditional jet fuel. The biofuel alone achieves a greater than 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on a lifecycle basis compared to traditional jet fuel, and using biofuel is one of the most effective ways an airline can reduce its impact on the environment. United recently renewed its contract with World Energy, agreeing to purchase up to 10 million gallons of cost-competitive, sustainable aviation biofuel over the next two years. United was the first airline globally to use sustainable aviation biofuel on a continuous basis and the only airline in the United States to currently do so.
In the Economy cabin, United is swapping traditional snack options with a complimentary plated service featuring fully recyclable or compostable serviceware, including a test of an industry-first, recyclable-paper, hot beverage cup. In the premium cabin, United is continuing to use reusable service ware and swap plastic lids for beeswax food wrappers. The airline is also removing the paper wrapping from silverware roll-ups. United has already eliminated non-recyclable stirring sticks and cocktail picks on aircraft systemwide and replaced them with an environmentally-friendly product made of 100% bamboo.