Study: I am not a typical flyer

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Based on 21 in-depth interviews with study participants in the metropolitan region of Reykjavik, the authors show that social expectations and normative understandings of air travel are changing. On the one hand, the results show that flying has become so widespread that people who do not fly face societal pressure. On the other hand, it shows that the increasing awareness of the climate-damaging effect of flying leads to a change in the norms for justifying air travel. The authors impressively show how people use strategies of "moral disengagement" to distinguish their flying behaviour from that of others in order to justify the meaningfulness of their air travel. For example, travellers want to differentiate themselves from mass tourism and do so by way of arguing that they fly to experience authentic, meaningful, or educational travel.

According to the research team, the distinction between excessive and necessary flights is necessary to reduce overall demand. However, the researchers find the subjective, selective forms of sanctioning found in the study highly problematic from a climate justice perspective. 

Finally, the authors discuss a number of policy options. For example, they argue that the changing normative framework also offers opportunities to reverse the trend. After all, the desire for authentic and educational travel experiences can be harnessed to promote less carbon intensive travel options that provide similar experiences.