What Is The Anti Flying Movement And Why Should You Care?

The anti-flying movement is taking off across Europe by literally not taking off. The movement sees individuals shunning air travel in the name of the environment, and to an extent they have good reason to.

Anti flying movement
The anti flying movement sees passengers opting not to fly. Photo via Pxhere

The anti-flying movement is pretty much as the name suggests. A movement against flying. But who are these people, and should we care about them? Simple Flying decides to dig into the issue and analyse both sides. We’ll look at some example of when flights should be avoided, and others where it makes sense to fly, and compare the two. However, let’s start simple.

Who are they?

The movement reportedly started in Sweden, known as Flygskam. This literally means flight shame, and is the feeling somebody gets when taking a commercial flight damaging the environment. It is deemed especially bad when one did not need to take the flight, for example if a train connection exists.

Anti flying movement
Passengers opt not to fly when high speed trains are available. Photos: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

The movement is slowly growing in momentum as more people join. As such, the movement is now a Europe-wide phenomenon with thousands of individuals shunning flying. This is especially true as more people are considering the environment, and the future it holds in store for us and our children. Such routes where the movement is popular include Paris to Lyon where the train is almost always faster. Even I’m getting involved, by taking the Eurostar to Paris for the Paris Airshow.


The pros

The anti-flying movement has some very valid points. Each day there are hundreds of flights operating unnecessarily. This could be that they are not filled, or they don’t even need to run. Let’s start with some numbers.

The Ryanair Group cites that its passenger load factor for January was 91%. Now, taking the Frankfurt to Manchester route, on 28th May, Ryanair will operate one flight on the route, whereas Lufthansa will operate five. Interestingly, the Lufthansa Group’s load factor for the same month quoted stands at just 76.4%.

Anti flight movement
Etihad has been criticised for operating unnecessary flights to keep their Heathrow slots. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Now, there is no need for so many flights. Cutting one would potentially accommodate the passengers wanting to travel the route. Additionally, Etihad is busy operating pointless flights to London Heathrow just to make sure it doesn’t lose its slots. A ludicrous practice by anyone’s estimation.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom

It’s not all doom and gloom, however. The airline industry is not going to crumble overnight because of the anti flying movement. Instead, airlines need to adapt their offering in order to ensure they are considering the environment too.

However, this doesn’t go far enough. Currently airlines are penalised for not using slots at Heathrow and numerous other busy airport. This has and is seeing carriers operating empty ‘ghost’ flights to the airport. I think a more prudent approach for the airlines would be fining them for for not correctly utilising their slots.

What do you make of the anti-flying movement? Let us know in the comments.


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Ng Fook Meng

The airline industry is extremely competitive to the extend of being brutal. It begins with a market presence and soon leading to intense competition for market dominance. It is difficult to have a single frequency carrier competing with a multifrequency competitor for the fact that passengers are extremely time sensitive, especially on shorter sectors. The only way to avoid this competition is for the carriers to pool or load share. But then this would lead to cartelling at the detriment to the travelling public. The airline industry is best left to the market forces to determine its daily, weekly, monthly… Read more »

Chris Rouse

How about Kanya West and Kim Kardashian stop flying around on empty 747s and all the other 1%ers stop wasting fuel on all the empty jets they are flying around on this planet would stop alot of burned fuel flowing into our atmosphere. The airlines surely could cancel empty flights but the waste by the billionaire people is pathetic!


It’ll never work in much of North America. Alternatives such as rail service and bus service are lacking. Moreover, rail service is slow–often hours late. If the anti-flying people want to have their cause take root in North America, they will have to campaign for better rail service, better rail infrastructure and bus service (on the lines of Megabus(R)).

Sam Okpro

It’s a shame that the “FlyShame” movement fails to target the industries that contribute the most to environmental pollution like that automobile industry. The airline industry have come a long way in taking steps to protect our environment with today’s aircraft engines built to minimize pollution and they have done so very effectively. Cars contribute a lot more to world pollution than airlines. Credit must also go to the Automobile industry for the improvements, but with the sheer amount of cars on the road worldwide, there should be a “CarShame” movement as opposed to “FlyShame”. The train option may be… Read more »


Modern cars are very clean as well. Trains don’t even work well in Europe. Trains can’t compete with planes on longer trips, not can they compete with cars on short trips. Talking about load factors, look at how empty trains usually are.


Air travel is still a lot worse for the environment because we don’t have sustainable fuel options as we do for cars. In addition, the emissions go straight into the atmosphere without any hope for the CO2 to be absorbed by plants on the cars (what happens with emissions from vehicles).