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Simply tap to save a tree - how mobile check-in can help the environment

When you consider checking in on your mobile, your thought process generally centres around the time saving benefits and added convenience at the airport. Both extremely valid and rational reasons to use mobile which are driving the uptake of mobile check-in worldwide. But a very important and less discussed benefit of mobile check-in is an environmental one.

It sounds obvious, but using a mobile boarding pass immediately negates the need to print (and often re-print!) a boarding pass on an A4 sheet of paper. And the good news is that market research firm Technavio, in its Global Mobile Ticketing Market 2016–2020 report, predicts that the volume of tickets sold through mobile apps will see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of at least 20% from 2016 to 2020.1

Why is this significant? Well, a recent study undertaken by online retailer Mobiles.co.uk, reveals that the UK would have 2.64 million more trees if its citizens moved solely to mobile ticketing. It would also save 20 billion litres (4.4m gallons) of water in production costs!2 Apply this logic to all countries worldwide and that translates to a significant positive environmental impact directly related to mobile boarding pass usage.

And here’s a few more statistics that highlight how us paper-loving humans are impacting tree numbers and the environment globally.

  • World consumption of paper has grown 400 percent in the last 40 years. Now nearly 4 billion trees or 35 percent of the total trees cut around the world are used in paper production.3

  • 15 billion trees each year are cut down and the global tree count has fallen by 46% since the beginning of human civilization.4

  • 10 litres of water is needed to make one piece of A4 paper.5

These are pretty staggering figures and make for grim reading. In case you didn’t already know, trees play a crucial role in supporting life on our planet.


On a distinctly more positive note, the growth figures for mobile give great cause for optimism. According to the latest SITA research, of those questioned, 43% of passengers said that they had performed web or mobile check-in, with 57% having the intention to use it next time.6

But it’s up to all industry stakeholders to work to drive these figures even higher. We work with a strong travel client base who continue to embrace and invest in mobile and the more smart investment that takes place the greater the uptake of mobile ticketing and check-in will be. Making the end-to-end process as simple and as frictionless as possible is key in order to encourage full consumer adoption. It goes without saying, the easier we make it the greater the numbers who will use it.


It’s clear that air travel has to take its fair share of responsibility for its impact on the environment. However, by embracing ticketless travel and mobile check-in, the airline industry and its customers can at least offset this negative effect to some extent.

Of course mobile ticketing alone will not fully address the damage inflicted on worldwide tree numbers but it can certainly go a long way, and it is something everyone can do when flying to do their bit for the environment. So the next time you’re considering printing off a boarding pass on an A4 sheet of paper, why not download the airline app instead, hit that check-in button and help save a tree!

1) http://www.iq-mag.net/2016/06/strong-growth-predicted-mobile-ticketing/#.V1gJz5MrL1w

2) http://www.iq-mag.net/2016/06/switch-to-mobile-ticketing-would-save-2m-trees/#.V1qT0eYrLoz

3) http://www.ecology.com/2011/09/10/paper-chase/

4) http://time.com/4019277/trees-humans-deforestation/

5) http://www.theworldcounts.com/stories/Paper-Waste-Facts

6) https://www.sita.aero/resources/type/surveys-reports/passenger-it-trends-survey-2016

Brendan Bourke - Digital Consultant

Brendan has over 18 years digital and mobile experience working on both the client and agency side. Prior to joining Travelport Digital, Brendan worked at both Aer Lingus and Emirates. At Travelport Digital Brendan works with customers on their mobile strategies with a specific focus on mobile marketing and engagement.

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