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‘Up in the air’: A conceptual critique of flying addiction


  • Young, Martin
  • Higham, James E.S.
  • Reis, Arianne C.


The ‘flyers’ dilemma’, where an individual’s self-identity as an environmentally-responsible consumer conflicts with the environmental impacts of frequent air travel, has been shown to produce a range of negative psychological effects. Some have argued that frequent flying may represent a site of behavioural addiction, characterized by guilt, suppression and denial. While this sort of pathologisation finds parallels in other forms of excessive consumption, its application in a tourist context is problematic in terms of classification validity, attribution of negative consequences, transfer of responsibility, and tendency towards social control and domination. We argue for an alternative conceptual approach to frequent flying which elaborates the structural reproduction of the ‘flyers’ dilemma’, rather than its individual, psychological effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Young, Martin & Higham, James E.S. & Reis, Arianne C., 2014. "‘Up in the air’: A conceptual critique of flying addiction," Annals of Tourism Research, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 51-64.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:anture:v:49:y:2014:i:c:p:51-64
    DOI: 10.1016/j.annals.2014.08.003

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    8. Higham, James E.S. & Cohen, Scott A., 2011. "Canary in the coalmine: Norwegian attitudes towards climate change and extreme long-haul air travel to Aotearoa/New Zealand," Tourism Management, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 98-105.
    9. Ejis, 2013. "Table of Contents," European Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, Bucharest Economic Academy, issue 01, March.
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    1. Young, Martin & Markham, Francis & Reis, Arianne C. & Higham, James E.S., 2015. "Flights of fantasy: A reformulation of the flyers’ dilemma," Annals of Tourism Research, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 1-15.

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