Which Is Worse: Bad Service Or Bad Emissions?

I’ve been working on some “green” intiatives for a client of mine this week, so this story caught my eye:

British environmentalists say a Chicago-to-London American Airlines flight was “obscene” because it carried only five passengers.
The Feb. 9 flight used 22,000 gallons of fuel to carry the passengers on the trans-Atlantic route, a decision Friends of the Earth said was environmentally irresponsible, The Telegraph reported Wednesday.
“Flying virtually empty planes is an obscene waste of fuel,” said Richard Dyer, Friends of the Earth’s transport activist. “Through no fault of their own, each passenger’s carbon footprint for this flight is about 45 times what it would have been if the plane had been full.”
American Airlines officials said it was forced to cancel one of its four daily fights from Chicago to London. While it was able to place nearly all of the canceled flight’s passengers on other flights, five couldn’t be accommodated.
Then there was the London-to-Chicago flight to consider.
Canceling the flight “would have left a plane load of west-bound passengers stranded at London Heathrow who were due to fly back to the U.S. on the same aircraft,” an airline spokesman said.

This is an interesting dilemma. I have some questions, after the jump:

Is it better to inconvenience 5 passengers or risk the wrath of environmentalists and their PR? Are we going to now be criticial of every incident that seems wasteful or harmful to the environment? Do you think American Airlines did the right thing? Are consumers going to get sick of “green” marketing initiatives or simply stop believing them?
I’d hate to be in the airline industry right now. Seems they can’t win no matter what they do. And if I paid for a ticket to London, then I want to get there ASAP and I wouldn’t worry about my carbon footprint.

About Dan Goldgeier

Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. Dan is also a columnist for TalentZoo.com and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.