Aside from the pleasure of, you know, breathing ... clean air means you aren’t forced into "smog avoidance" travel, like many residents of Beijing are opting for right now.
Imagine air so polluted that face masks were essential, flights were delayed, traffic and shipping were disrupted, and school and factories were closed. Welcome to the past week in Beijing.
The air in China’s capital has been so polluted for the last five days that residents are engaging in "smog avoidance" travel. As Jake Spring notes for Reuters, Beijing led the country for searches on the travel website Qunar.com for "avoid smog," "wash your lungs" and other terms related to traveling to escape pollution.
Pollution is often pretty bad in the industrial areas of Northern China, but winter can be particularly awful thanks to increased energy demand and the coal used to supply it. According to Time, the air is currently "clogged with more than 500 destructive PM2.5 particles per cubic meter. (The WHO ranks safe level as under 25.)"
And suddenly, there’s a spike – as in quadrupled – in searches for plane tickets from Beijing to elsewhere. Elsewhere where one can go to take a breather, so to speak.
"My husband and I really wanted to go but our company didn't let us take off work so we had no choice but to wear a mask and go to work coughing," Beijing resident Jane Wang told Reuters. Her mother was able to escape to Hainan to dodge the filthy fog.
In the meantime, for those like Wang who can’t run away, local hotels are offering staycations, of sorts, with perqs like, breathing! "Enjoy a micro forest, live in a fresh air room: enjoy your own a complementary air filtration machine," reads the banner ads on one travel booking site. Maybe call them Clean Airbnbs?
You can get a taste of the mess in the video below: