In December 2008, Virgin America took new measures to ensure the environmental efficiency of its operations, becoming the first airline to allow passengers to offset their carbon emissions via in-flight touch screens. In a move guided by senior vice president David Pflieger, whose contributions to the airline included the creation of its numerous sustainability initiatives, the carrier partnered with carbon offset provider Carbonfund.org to offer passengers new options to reduce their carbon footprint.
Virgin America has operated with a commitment to sustainability since its inception, drawing on advanced avionics, cost index flying, and similar innovations to limit its environmental impact. With the announcement of its partnership with Carbonfund.org, the California-based air carrier invited its customers to join its efforts to preserve the environment. The carrier announced two new ways for customers to offset the CO2 emissions of their flight, first introducing the option on its ticket confirmation web page and later adding carbon offsetting to the touch-screen entertainment systems located on aircraft seatbacks.
With each pledge to offset their carbon emissions, passengers make a contribution to one of a number of carbon offset projects jointly chosen by Virgin America and Carbonfund.org. Vetted as environmentally impactful, these renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives carry the potential to spur measurable reductions in global carbon emissions. Initial offset projects included the Inland Empire Utilities Agency Biodigester, a Chino Basin, California, methane capture-and-elimination project capable of eliminating 8,000 tons of CO2 emissions each year, and IdleAire, which provides in-cabin electricity at truck stops to reduce drivers’ diesel fuel consumption and corresponding carbon emissions.