The Hidden Costs of Travel: Exploring the Price of Air Travel and Greenwashing

Alfred Tang

Alfred Tang

Dec 17, 20234 min read


The Hidden Costs of Travel: Exploring the Price of Air Travel and Greenwashing


Traveling has become a fundamental part of our lives, allowing us to explore new places, experience different cultures, and create lifelong memories. However, beneath the surface of convenience and excitement, there are hidden costs associated with our preferred modes of transportation. In this article, we will delve into two interconnected issues: the high cost of train travel compared to flying and the deceptive practice of greenwashing by certain brands.

The Cost Disparity: Train vs. Air Travel:

When it comes to choosing between train and air travel, cost is often a major determining factor. Surprisingly, air travel tends to be more affordable than train travel in many cases. This discrepancy raises questions about the underlying factors contributing to the higher ticket prices of train journeys.

One of the primary reasons for the cost disparity is the difference in infrastructure and operational expenses. Airlines can transport a significantly larger number of passengers in a single trip, maximizing their revenue potential. In contrast, trains have limited seating capacities, resulting in higher per-passenger costs. Additionally, the maintenance and construction of rail networks require substantial investments, which are eventually reflected in ticket prices.

Another crucial aspect to consider is government subsidies. The aviation industry enjoys significant subsidies, contributing to its ability to offer lower fares. On the other hand, rail networks often receive limited or no subsidies, burdening them with higher operating costs. This disparity in financial support further exacerbates the cost difference between train and air travel.

Environmental Impact and Greenwashing:

While the cost discrepancy between train and air travel is concerning, it pales in comparison to the environmental impact of flying. Aviation accounts for approximately 3 percent of global CO2 emissions, contributing significantly to climate change. This environmental concern has led to a rise in demand for more sustainable alternatives, such as train travel.

However, some brands have capitalized on this growing demand by engaging in greenwashing, a deceptive marketing practice. Greenwashing occurs when companies mislead consumers about their environmental practices or the eco-friendliness of their products and services. Through carefully crafted advertisements, these brands create an illusion of sustainability, while their actual practices may be far from environmentally friendly.

Greenwashing often involves the use of soothing visuals, nature-centric imagery, and claims of caring for the planet. By associating themselves with positive environmental values, these brands attempt to deceive consumers into believing that they are making a responsible choice. However, it is crucial to approach such claims with skepticism, especially when the sponsoring company has a history of unsustainable practices.

Finding Solutions: Three Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Educate Yourself: In the era of information overload, it is essential to be critical consumers. Research the environmental practices and track record of brands before making purchasing decisions. Look for certifications and independent assessments that verify a company's sustainability claims. By staying informed, you can avoid falling victim to greenwashing and support genuinely eco-friendly brands.
  • 2. Choose Sustainable Transportation: Whenever possible, opt for more sustainable modes of transportation, such as train travel. Trains have lower carbon emissions compared to airplanes, making them a greener alternative. By consciously selecting transportation options that align with your environmental values, you can contribute to reducing the overall carbon footprint of the travel industry.
  • 3. Advocate for Change: Raise your voice and advocate for sustainable practices in the travel industry. Support initiatives that promote government subsidies for rail networks, making train travel more accessible and affordable. Encourage brands to be transparent about their environmental practices and hold them accountable for their claims. By collectively demanding change, we can create a more sustainable and responsible travel industry.


As we navigate the world of travel, it is essential to consider the hidden costs associated with our chosen modes of transportation. The price disparity between train and air travel highlights the need for addressing infrastructure investments and government subsidies. Simultaneously, the deceptive practice of greenwashing reminds us to be vigilant consumers, seeking genuine sustainability and holding brands accountable for their claims. By educating ourselves, making sustainable choices, and advocating for change, we can contribute to a more environmentally responsible future of travel.


  1. "Why is travelling by train so much more expensive than flying?", (Glasp)
  2. "Greenwashing: the secret that some ‘eco-friendly’ brands don’t want you to know | CBC Kids News - YouTube", (Glasp)

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