Remember the question about the environmental impact of flying? Air Genius Gary Leff puts it nicely:
If you’re pulling inventory out of a low fare bucket, the strong
expectation is that there’s little effect at the margin on your buying
the ticket because the airline expects to operate a flight that doesn’t
come close to filling up.
If you’re pulling inventory out of a high fare bucket, for coach
fares at the extreme end if you’re traveling on a Y fare, you can
pretty much expect that the flight will be close to sold out and that
the airline is willing to risk displacing another passenger in the
short term in exchange for your higher fare… or at least that the
ticket cost is high enough to potentially influence behavior on the
part of the airline…
Reality is even a little bit more complicated than that. Cargo has
to come into play, too. Regardless of what you pay and what fare class
you’re booking in, your travel on United between San Francisco and
Nagoya, Japan is going to have almost no effect whatsoever on United’s
decision-making. They’ve got a very large contract with Toyota and they
fill up their 747 with cargo and the flight goes out with very low load
factors yet is still profitable for them to operate.
Getting a frequent flyer seat also means that your environmental impact is likely very small. I am pleased, of course, that I often have Gary booking my seats for me, all in the interests of a cleaner Earth. The bottom line is that if you get a good deal on price, you should feel doubly good about it.