March 31, 2023

Empty Leg Flights: How To Find the Best Deals and Save Money

Flying privately, or at least on a nearly empty airplane, is a lavish experience. A private flight lets you board quickly and not have to deal with anyone else onboard, and even a nearly empty commercial passenger liner can be downright blissful, given how much room it is for you to relax. It's possible to find such flights if you look for what is known as empty leg flights, but there are other options.

What Are Empty Leg Flights?
First, it helps to know what an empty-leg flight is. You might be aware of it as an opportunity to take a last-minute trip, but what exactly are empty legs? Basically, they're repositioning flights when an airplane is sent to a new destination without passengers onboard.

This can happen for several reasons. For starters, an aircraft might need to attend to passengers in other locations. Secondly, aircraft might be returning from light maintenance, trade shows, or other non-passenger events.

In a normal market, anywhere from 10% to 30% of all business flights come back empty. Contractors and operators might put those flights on sale so they can monetize them. They might be internal charters, or they might sell directly to consumers. Empty legs have a wide variety of price points, but you can typically assume discounts of 40% to even 70% based on what a normal comparable flight would be.

Finding Deals on Empty Legs
The first thing you need to do when looking for empty legs is to be flexible on the kind of plane you're willing to ride in. When you decide to fly in a lavish manner, you might be picky about what kind of plane you're going to be in. However, that can run up your bill fast.

Secondly, be flexible about the airports you fly in and out of. If you're coming or going from New York City, then many private flights, including empty legs, are coming and going from Teterboro. They're not flying so much out of LaGuardia, JFK, or Newark. Similarly, the private flights in and out of Miami are usually through Opa-Locka Executive Airport instead of Fort Lauderdale or Miami airport. In SoCal, expect to fly through Van Nuys instead of LAX.

Don't expect an empty-leg flight to be cheaper than a commercial flight. While you're saving money compared to a formal charter flight, you're not likely going to save money compared to a normal passenger route. What you will have is a lot more comfort and privacy.

Build relationships slowly if you want to do this more than once. You can find private jets and empty legs through websites and apps, but the real goldmine is when you can connect to brokers and operators in the industry. Your local airport is the best place to do this. Try to join an annual membership program that offers discounts on empty legs for more options.

Warnings You Should Consider
Empty legs are lavish travel at a fraction of the cost of full charters, and they offer many benefits commercial passenger planes don't. However, there are quite a few things that you should be aware of. For starters, empty leg schedules change a lot, to the tune of 25%. Also, empty legs might not have hot food or beverages, and the number of passengers on board can vary a lot.

You need to make your plans at the last minute because of all this. You also need to have backup options. That might mean contacting Stratos Jet Charters or another similar service. They can still give you the lavish flight that you want, and you can choose your start point and end destination without any layovers. You can even decide who comes on the flight with you. Private charter flights also save you a lot of time at the airport because you can be in and out without lines, screenings, and waiting for boarding calls.

Flying empty legs isn't as easy as it used to be. Inflation has hurt the concept a lot, and more people are looking for such flights due to online awareness. You can find them, but you should always have a backup plan in mind. Charter flights can still give you the lavish air travel you deserve to enjoy.

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