Considering travel

A flight levy of £30 per tonne of carbon on all flights will be separately recharged to departments. A flight reduction target of 35% by 2035 has been set.

Expand All

Consider this travel hierarchy when contemplating travel to reduce the environmental impact. Reasonable adjustments and exceptions may be applicable.

Avoid travel - consider whether travel is necessary 

Reduce your travel – consider these possibilities  

  • Combine trips 
  • Take fewer trips 
  • Choose less distant conference locations
  • Minimise the size of the group 

Travel without flying – consider alternatives for travel within the UK, to Europe, or within other countries:  

  • Rail (including sleeper trains) 
  • Coach 
  • Ferry 
  • Car(share) 

Fly when there are no alternatives - and consider the 

  • Route - flying direct is usually less carbon intensive 
  • Class of flight - economy class has the lowest emissions due to using less space 

 Class of travel  

Emissions compared to economy class 

Premium economy 

1.6 times 

Business class 

2.9 times 

First class 

4 times 


University of oxford travel hierarchy 1. Avoid Travel 2. Reduce Travel 3. Travel without flying 4. Fly

A flight levy of £30/tCO2e for all flights is recharged to departments for all flights paid for or reimbursed by the University to compensate for those flights’ carbon emissions. The levy is allocated to the Oxford Sustainability Fund (OSF) for implementing the University’s Environmental Sustainability Strategy.

The flight levy rate will be reviewed every two years. 

For assistance in estimating flight levies, view a list of estimated levies to common destinations or use the carbon emissions calculator.

The flight levy will be recharged to departments every 2-3 months after flights have been booked or reclaimed through expenses.

The University has set a target of reducing emissions from flights by 35% by 2035 against the 2018/19 travel baseline with interim targets of: 

  • a 20% reduction by 2024/25 
  • a further 10% reduction by 2030/31 
  • a further 5% reduction by 2034/35. 

To reduce flights, unless exceptions or reasonable adjustments are applicable, 

  • rail should be used for all domestic journeys under 7 hours. Exceptions include flights to Northern Ireland, the Shetland Islands or the Outer Hebrides. Flights are also permitted to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.
  • Eurostar should be used for all journeys to Paris and Brussels
  • first-class flights are not permitted
  • premium economy and business-class flights require pre-approval by departments, with evidence retained

 All departments will be expected to meet this target by considering:                                       

  • prioritisation: determining travel that will be prioritised
  • carbon emissions: selecting flights with the lowest emissions
  • cost: balancing cost and carbon emissions
  • distance: reducing long haul flights, which are responsible for the bulk of emissions
  • ticket count: reducing number of trips 
  • class: encouraging economy class flights, which have the lowest carbon emissions

Expand All

Why do we need a Travel Policy at the University?    

The Travel Policy is part of the University’s Environmental Sustainability Strategy to achieve net zero carbon and biodiversity net gain by 2035. The Travel Policy is aimed at reducing the environmental impact of travel while acknowledging that some travel is necessary. 

Does the Travel Policy apply to everyone?    

Travel Policy applies to all travel on University business. This includes trips paid for by the University or expensed for student field trips, conferences or research field work by staff, students, or visitors. Visitors include any person who is not a staff or student whose flight has been paid for by the University.

What changes to travel are included in the travel policy?

  • Consider the travel hierarchy
  • Travel by rail 
    • to most destinations within the UK
    • to Paris and Brussels 
  • Approval is required for premium economy and business class flights
  • No first-class flights
  • Flight levy of £30 per tonne of carbon for all flights
  • Flight reduction target of 35% by 2035 with the first interim target of 20% by 2024/25.
  • Reasonable adjustments or exceptions where applicable

How much is the flight levy?    

The flight levy is calculated at £30 tCO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent emissions). As an example of this, the carbon emissions of a direct, return economy class flight to New York are 2.23 tCO2e, this would result in levy of £30 x 2.23=£66.90. Estimates of flight levy amounts  .These are intended as useful estimates for budgeting. 

Why is the levy not charged on rail travel?    

The Travel Policy focuses on reducing the highest emitting mode of travel, flying, and promotes rail where possible. The carbon emissions from rail are much lower than flights. For instance, Eurostar emissions for London to Paris are 91% lower than the equivalent flight. 

How was the flight levy amount decided on? Why is the flight levy set at £30 tCO2e?    

The flight levy was initially proposed to the Environmental Sustainability Subcommittee at three levels of £30/£50/£70 tCO2e. The lowest level was approved to reduce the burden to departments. The flight levy amount will be reviewed every two years, taking into account carbon pricing levels. 

Will my department be charged the levy before I have even travelled?    

The levy is recharged after booking (not travel), usually 1-3 months after booking. This could be before or after travel.

What happens if my flight is changed or cancelled?

For bookings made through the preferred provider, if any changes are made to the booking, you will not be charged any further flight levy, if the booking is cancelled and the flight levy has already been recharged, it will be reversed by the middle of the month following the cancellation. For cancellations from other bookings you will have to inform us by email ( and request a reversal of the flight levy.

I already offset my flights/my departments already offsets our flights, does my department still have to pay the flight levy?    

Yes, the flight levy must be paid regardless of any departmental offsetting. Offsetting is not considered a long-term solution to climate change. Our approach is in line with the Oxford Principles of Offsetting which supports prioritising reducing emissions over offsetting to minimise the need for offsets. The Travel Policy’s flight levy will be used to reduce emissions. Offsetting will only be used to fully offset the University’s residual carbon emissions and biodiversity impact from 2034. It is recommended that departmental funds used to offset flights are instead used to pay the flight levy.

Where does the flight levy go to and what will it be used for?    

The flight levy is allocated to the Oxford Sustainability Fund and used to implement the Environmental Sustainability Strategy at the University. This includes measures such as improving biodiversity, reducing carbon emissions from our buildings, improving the environmental impact of our supply chain, increasing research and engagement in environmental sustainability, and increasing environmental sustainability content in the curriculum.

Are other Universities charging a flight levy?    

Flight levies are being charged at some Universities across the world and more Universities are expected to introduce similar measures.  

Will departments have to calculate their own levies?    

No, Estates finance will calculate the levy and will recharge the levy. 

How much is the levy likely to cost my department?    

It is expected that the levy will add approximately 8% to the cost of economy class flights. For departments with high levels of business class flights, this figure may rise to 15%.

What does my department have to do to implement the Travel Policy and the flight levy?    

The Departmental checklist

  • Inform staff of the Travel Policy and the travel restrictions of no first class travel, no domestic flights for destinations that can be reached in under 7 hours, and using Eurostar for trips to Brussels and Paris.
  • If preferred, nominate a separate cost centre for recharging flight levies. If no cost centre is provided the departments’ default cost centre will be used.
  •  Agree an approval process to approve premium economy and business class flights by Head of Department/their delegate.

What is the methodology for calculating carbon emissions of flights?

 The methodology   has been defined.

How do I query the flight levy charged to my department?    

Departments can raise any flight levy queries by emailing

Will departments have access to information on their flights and flight levies?    

At the end of the first year, each department will receive a report on its flights. This will provide departments with comprehensive data on departmental flights. 

Research grants and the flight levy    

Industrial/commercial and fixed-price contracts can usually have the flight levy cost charged to them. The flight levy cannot usually be charged to research projects that require directly incurred cost reporting. 

How will the flight levy be recharged?   

Estates Finance will recharge the flight levy to the cost account nominated by a department. Each department can nominate a separate cost centre, or the default cost centre will be used. Flight levy recharges will be charged for Key Travel flights, other travel provider flights, departmental credit cards and expensed claims. 

When will the recharges be made, what information will be included in this?             

The recharges for each month will be completed within 1-3 months after the booking was made. The recharge detail will include details such as the name of a person, brief flight details, PO number and where available, grant and task number or cost centre.

What information will be supplied in the levy recharge

For Key Travel bookings, the information shown on the recharge will be similar to the recharge journal shown below. The recharge will be made to a separate cost centre nominated by your department. The line description will refer to the person travelling, the date of booking, the destination and the project code/cost centre used when making the booking. 

Example: KEYT Oct Flight Levy | Jane, Jolly | 11/10/2023 | Economy | LONDON | ISTANBUL | 52042123 | CV200123 | CV9999 | CV01.00_CVG01234



Do we have to use Key Travel for all travel bookings?    

Key Travel is the preferred travel supplier and is strongly recommended for all bookings for

  • Flights
  • Hotels
  • UK rail 
  • Eurostar

In addition to Key Travel, you can also use two other travel agencies that are contracted suppliers, 

Our department does not use Key Travel; how can we do so?    

You can register to use Key Travel. Key Travel offers an easy-to-use online booking system or offline booking for complicated travel arrangements or larger group bookings. Monthly training sessions are offered for the online booking system. 

Please email if you wish to attend one of these sessions or if you wish to register to use Key Travel. 

My department is unhappy with Key Travel; how do we complain?    

The University actively manages the Key Travel account. Please contact

Why should we use Key Travel? What are the advantages?    

Key Travel offers the University benefits of cost, convenience, safety and sustainability benefits:


  • Access to academic fares, not publicly available, with an average 30% saving
  • Price match promise for airfares 


  • No requirement for personal payment and reimbursement with invoiced booking
  • An online booking facility for direct bookings 
  • An offline booking facility using a travel agent for more complex bookings
  • Travellers can capture airline loyalty scheme points
  • Single point of contact for changes and refunds


  • 24-hour emergency support


  • The “Greenest” search option is available.
  • Comprehensive carbon emissions reporting.

How do you balance value for money and sustainability?

Value for money is the optimum balance between cost, quality, risk, and environmental sustainability.

Travel Policy

Review our policy


Travel Hierarchy

Download and review.


Contact us

Sustainable Travel team

+44 (0)1865 6 14814


Related links