Fuel costs force airlines to lighten up

Forty percent of the price of your airline ticket goes to fuel costs, compared to 15 percent eight years ago. That leaves airlines trying to lighten their load.

“For every 25 pounds we remove, we save $440,000 a year,” Tim McGraw, Northwest’s director of corporate environmental and safety programs, told the New York Times.

Some of the strategies employed by various airlines involve scrubbing dirt and debris off jet engines every night to reduce drag—for a savings of $1.6 million in fuel costs for Southwest since April—to using less water for bathroom faucets and toilets, replacing seats and drink carts with lighter versions, cruising at slightly lower speeds, altering landings to use less fuel and replacing old gas-guzzling planes with more fuel-efficient ones.