“Shame of flying” redirects here. For the anxiety disorder, see Fear of flying.

Contrails from an aircraft

Flight shame or flygskam is an anti-flying movement that started in 2018 in Sweden and gained traction the following year throughout northern Europe.[1]Flygskam is a Swedish word that literally means “flight shame”.[1] The movement discourages people from flying to lower carbon emissions to thwart climate change.[1]


Staffan Lindberg, a Swedish singer, was reported to have coined the term in 2017.[2][3]Björn Ferry, an Olympic athlete, was also one of the first notable champions of the concept.[1]Malena Ernman, an opera singer and the mother of teenage activist Greta Thunberg, also announced publicly that she would stop flying.[1] Thunberg helped popularize the movement.[4][5][6] The idea would continue to grow as other Swedish celebrities followed suit.[1] The word started to become mainstream amongst English speakers in 2019.[4]


Tågskryt, a Swedish word that literally means “train brag”, has resulted from the flygskam movement.[1] This idea encourages people to travel by train rather than by plane.[1] Furthermore, it encourages people to utilize social media by posting pictures from their train trip and tagging it #tågskryt.[1]

Att smygflyga, which means “to fly in secret”, is also another term that has been derived from the flygskam movement.[5]


In Sweden, more people have used the train and domestic flying decreased in Sweden.[1][4]SJ, Sweden’s main train operator, reported that it sold 1.5 million more tickets in 2018 that the year prior.[5] According to Swedavia, Sweden’s airport operators, domestic travel decreased 9% from the previous year.[3] Figures of passengers at Sweden’s ten busiest airports decreased 5% in the summer of 2019 as compared to the year prior.[7]

The same pattern in Sweden was seen in Germany.[6]Deutsche Bahn AG railway service reported record high number of travelers in 2019.[5] German airports showed a decreased in passengers taking domestic flights, with a 12% decrease from November 2019 as compared to the year prior.[6]

In a survey of 6,000 people by the Swiss bank UBS, 21% of respondents in the United States, France, England and Germany said they decreased their flights in the past year.[2][8]

The airline industry also recognized the movement as a threat.[4] In 2019, at the annual International Air Transport Association (IATA) in Seoul, combating flygskam was discussed.[1] Some airlines, such as easyJet, stated they would spend tens of millions of pounds to buy carbon offsets.[4]

Ecologically, about 2.5 percent of global carbon emissions from humans come from commercial flights.[1][4] Additionally, planes emit other gases such as nitrogen oxide and contrails that also have an environmental impact.[4] At the time, the volume of flights was projected to expand, although the aviation industry was taking steps to decrease their emissions.[1]

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused global air travel to plummet as airlines cut up to 95% of their trips, dwarfing the impact of the flygskam movement.[9]


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