Markets will always make the sensible or eco-friendly solution premium
Because the most convenient solution is also sometimes the most highly-sought-after solution, capitalism pits us against common sense and ecological reasoning.
Working on my toneI don't love my tone in this post, and I want to cool it off when I take another pass at it and expand it out. The absurdity of pricing systems that can make the common sense solution to a problem untenable still holds true, but I do empathize with the difficulty of airlines to cut razor-thin margins on big ticket investments and still operate as a pseudo-public service. I just happen to think that they should be a non-pseudo public service so they don't have to worry about capital growth.
As an example, when the direct flight is the shortest and therefore the fastest travel method, it becomes the premium option, because demand drives up cost. However, this option would be the best method for all users and for the planet, in a way that these costs cannot represent. People do not want to have overlays, generally. They also don't want to burn more fuel, generally.
But this pricing system that makes the direct flight the premium option is at odds with a world that agrees we should burn less fuel. At the collision of these two opposing aims we see absurd UX like this, where a small eco-badge shows that this 2:21pm flight would be the more eco-sensible option, and even shows me that my decision to take the garbage options with layovers that cost half as much will burn double the amount of fuel.
I understand the aims of UX like this; to coax users to consider the environmental impacts of their decisions when choosing from the options. But what is actually being done is showing so plainly how the common sense options for goods and services, which so often are also the most ecologically sound, are going to be the premium products and solutions for the coming era of climate crisis capitalism.
It's already an absurd journey to be sent to Charlotte on your way to New York from Cleveland because an airline is too worried about its investments to commit a few extra flights to the direct route and make their prices more reasonable. So in addition to those times when common sense is trampled by market logic, people who can't or won't pay premium prices for being eco-conscious now get the added bonus of feeling bad about killing the planet too.