When we were checking in for our trip to New Zealand, I was hoping that we might get upgraded for the long flight from San Francisco to Auckland. I'm tall, I have trouble sleeping on airplanes, so it'd be nice to have the better seats. We didn't luck out, and in retrospect, I'm glad.
Flying is a huge part of my carbon emissions, and as it's often for vacation travel, it's discretionary and the easiest item to reduce to do my part in fighting global warming. When you fly business class, you're sitting in seats that have (by my guesstimate) about a third of the seating density of regular coach seats. That means you have three times the carbon impact.
It'd be truly decadent to triple the environmental damage for just a bit of extra comfort. If we're going to do fun things that are bad for the planet, we might as well be slightly uncomfortable and feel the pain. I'll stick with coach--until we're ready to pass on more flights.
And no, I don't buy the argument that the plane is going to fly anyway, and a few business class seats don't make any difference.
PS: this post may sound preachy, and I suppose in part I even intend it that way. I keep noticing that there's little discussion among friends about actual trade offs or sacrifices we're making in the face of global warming. I think it's time that we start talking about and gently start generating some peer pressure to be more thoughtful and occasionally make other decisions. Buying a hybrid is not giving up a piece of your lifestyle. There are tougher choices to be made. I think it would help if we had a sense that others around us (our peers) were taking these choices seriously.