With increased awareness around the environmental impact of carbon emissions — and in the midst of generational demographic changes — an increasing number of travelers, companies, and governments have taken steps to limit or reduce their carbon footprint.
Now they can add one more tool to their toolkit. Today, Navan is launching “Train v Plane,” a new feature that lets travelers know when there’s a viable rail alternative during a flight search. When there is, travelers can easily swap their view of flight schedules and see rail options, then switch back if they still prefer to fly.
The feature is especially germane right now: In April 2022, the French government implemented a short-haul ban on routes that one can traverse by train. And while the initial ban only targeted three routes, more are coming — and other countries could follow suit.
Following the ban’s announcement in September 2022, and to support companies that require alternative modes of transportation surfaced in the booking flow, the Navan team launched the beta version of Train v Plane. Over half the beta testers in the U.S. and Europe engaged with the feature.
Train v Plane complements a user experience that’s already best-in-class. “Our team has developed an end-to-end booking flow that users enjoy,” said Director of Rail Partnerships Stephanie Weaver.
For companies trying to reduce their overall business travel carbon emissions, the Train v Plane booking flow helps their employees keep sustainability in mind.
The majority — 17 of the 20 busiest — of European air routes cover less than 434 miles (700 kilometers). Over this distance, trains running from city center to city center can offer faster, cleaner, and more sustainable journeys.
It’s one reason France acted to discourage unnecessary air travel by officially restricting short-haul domestic flights in April 2023 — the first ban of its kind in Europe. According to Navan data, since the ban was initially proposed in September 2022, domestic rail bookings within France have increased by 54%.
Our data also show that in March 2023, France’s most-traveled rail routes averaged 61% month-over-month growth as companies readied to implement the short-haul flight ban.
The Plane v Train feature is designed to support customers by staying ahead of similar policy changes expected in other countries, benefiting an organization’s efforts to become more carbon-conscious.
“As more of these short-haul flight bans are mandated across Europe, Navan remains ahead by ensuring we have the appropriate inventory, coupled with as much self-service functionality as possible for our customers,” said Weaver.
Indeed, Intra-Europe business transportation bookings (air, rail, car/black car) have recorded a marked shift since last year, increasing from 34% to 40% of all transportation bookings in Europe.
The benefit isn’t just emission reductions: Companies can also significantly reduce spending when travelers choose trains over planes.
Here’s how the average booking prices have changed over the past year.
Despite increases in plane and train fares, choosing a train over a plane saves an average of more than $100 U.S. dollars (€92.3 euros) per booking.
The new feature is an extension of the Navan Sustainability Suite, initially built to provide real-time data and insights to admins responsible for tracking, measuring, and reporting their company’s carbon impact. In November 2022, Navan began to surface this information by showing travelers carbon emissions in the flight shopping experience, empowering them to make more proactive carbon-conscious choices.
Train v Plane, the latest extension of these efforts, is aimed at travelers booking short-haul routes with viable train alternative routes that would reduce a company’s CO2 emissions.
In a world where time and resources are often limited, travelers strive to make better decisions but often find comparing and searching for alternative options challenging. By seamlessly integrating Trains v Planes into the booking flow, Navan keeps sustainability top of mind for individuals, making them more aware of their options and simplifying the booking process, saving them valuable time and emissions.
Steelcase is one of the companies taking advantage of this new feature.
“Steelcase is working towards ambitious, science-based emissions reduction targets, including emissions from business travel,” said Julia Kehoe, Senior Analyst of Sustainability at Steelcase. “Navan’s new Train v Plane feature builds on its other complementary sustainability features, empowering our travelers to consider sustainability alongside cost and convenience in their decision-making process. The great thing about Train v Plane is that the tool helps you make a choice that bolsters sustainability, cost, and convenience.”
Explore the Train v Plane feature directly in the booking journey on Navan today.