Considering travel

A flight levy of £30 per tonne of carbon on all flights which will be separately recharged to departments, and a flight reduction target of 20% by 2024/25.

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

Avoid travel – is your trip really necessary?

Reduce your travel – take fewer trips, or trips to less distant locations:

  • Combine trips
  • Take fewer trips
  • Choose conferences that are less far away
  • Travel in a smaller group

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

  • Rail, including sleeper trains
  • Coach
  • Ferry
  • Car

Fly when there are no alternatives – and consider:

  • Route – flying direct is usually less carbon intensive
  • Class of flight – economy class has the lowest emissions because it uses less space

 Class of travel 

Emissions compared to economy class

Premium economy

1.6 times

Business class

2.9 times

First class

4 times

A flight levy of £30/tCO2e for all flights will be recharged to departments for all flights paid for, or reimbursed by, the University to compensate for those flights’ carbon emissions. The levy will be 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 monthly after flights have been booked or reclaimed through expenses.

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

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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.

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 20% by 2024/25
  • With reasonable adjustments or exceptions where applicable

How much is the flight levy?    

The flight levy is calculated at £30tCO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent emissions). As an example of this, the carbon emissions of a return economy class flight to New York is 2.13 tCO2e. This would result in levy of £30 x 2.13=£64. Estimates of flight levy amounts  .

How will the flight levy be recharged?    

Estates Finance will recharge the flight levy monthly to the cost account nominated by a department. Each department will be required to nominate a separate cost account to which all flight levy recharges will be charged for Key Travel flights, other travel provider flights, departmental credit cards and expensed claims.  

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. 

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

The recharges for each month will be completed within two weeks after the end of the month. For instance, the flight levy for flights booked/reclaimed during August will be recharged by mid-September. The recharge detail will include detail such as name of person, brief flight details, cost centre.

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

Once the booking has been completed, your department will be recharged by the middle of the following month, regardless of the date of travel.  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. 

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 from 2034 to fully offset the University’s residual carbon emissions and biodiversity impact. It is recommended that the 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 will be directed to the Oxford Sustainability Fund and will be 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 offering all students the opportunity to study environmental sustainability, within or outside 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. 

Will my department be charged a levy for flying on or after 1 August 2022, where the booking was made before 1 August 2022?   

No, the flight levy will only be charged on flights booked after 1 August 2022. 

How much is the levy likely to cost my department?    

It is expected that the levy will add approximately 10% to the cost of 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 Travel Policy
  • Provide a separate cost centre by 31 August 2022 for recharging of flight levy by Estates Finance, via the Oxford University Flight Levy form, and (if no cost centre is provided the departments’ default cost centre will be used).
  • Agree on 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 levies queries by emailing or calling 01865 614814.

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. 


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 who are contracted suppliers, OFS Travel or Oxford Travel.

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. 

  • 21st July 2022 at 11am 
  • 13th September 2022 at 12pm 
  • 18th October 2022 at 2pm 
  • 11th January 2023 at 12pm

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 Key Travel account is actively managed by the University. 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, is not publicly available, with an average of 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 


  • “Greenest” search option available 
  • Comprehensive carbon emissions reporting

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

Contact us

Sustainable Travel team

+44 (0)1865 6 14814


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