August 26th, 2014
Empty Leg Flights Make Private Jet Travel More Affordable


For most people, air travel is more about economy class and commercial airlines than luxurious private jets. That may be about to change, though, as empty leg flights become more and more popular on the global scene.

Think about it: thousands of private jets fly exclusive customers across the globe every day. A jet might fly a customer from Paris to Nice, France and then be scheduled to fly its next customer between Madrid and Mallorca. The plane needs to relocate from Nice to Madrid to make its next scheduled pickup, and that’s where empty legs come in. These relocation flights often go unsold – so often that private carriers have resorted to selling the relocation flights for a fraction of the normal price, which can lead to a savings of up to 75%.

Yes, we’re saying that you could fly in a private jet for 75% less than typical private flyers pay. Just to be clear, we’ll remind you that flying privately is more comfortable, secure, private (obviously), and takes a shorter time than flying with the rest of the travelling public does, because you only need to show up at the airport 15 minutes before flying. And now you can do it for almost the same price you’d pay on a commercial flight. For example, an empty leg from New York to Fort Lauderdale on a eight-seater Learjet 60 plane is currently going for US$10,300 instead of $22,740. A ticket is still almost $1300 per head if the plane is full, but that’s down from about $2800 per head. Not bad considering the resulting convenience.

With the rise of popularity in empty leg flights, various websites and apps have popped up to help make finding and booking these flights easier. Who knows how to find and book these hidden relocation flights? That’s were an app like JetSmarter comes in.

JetSmarter claims to give users access to the largest private jet marketplace in the world, all through a comprehensive mobile app. The platform isn’t just for empty leg flights – fliers can book normal private charter flights on here too (with 15% to 25% savings). But for those looking specifically to take advantage of relocation flights, the app mines the schedules of over 3000 private aircraft to offer 2500 empty leg flights per month at wholesale prices.

From the app you can filter search results by departure and arrival airports, multi-leg trips and even aircraft model and age of aircraft. There’s an online message center with 24/7 customer support specialists and you can even pay for your flight all through your mobile device. It’s not mandatory for users, but JetSmarter’s $6999 (!!!) annual membership fee opens up a savings and loyalty program that can help customers take more private flights, empty leg or not.

Booking through an app is not the only way to access empty leg flights, though. A website called PrivateFly lets customers search for flights directly on the website or through their app, so those wary of paying for airfare with the touch of a button on a smartphone don’t have to stay grounded. PrivateFly offers a live global network of over 7000 aircraft for charter flights and flights can be arranged within 90 minutes, where in the past, customers had to work through agents who had access only to a small network of private aircraft. All types of planes are available at PrivateFly, from small turbo-props to executive jets and even commercial airliners. They also have a global helicopter service. When we looked, Private Fly was offering empty legs all over the world. We saw flights from London to Hong Kong, Zurich to Tokyo and Moscow to Beijing, along with a ton of short trips between dreamy European cities and towns.

Another site, Victor, has almost 9000 members already shopping for private flights. Here you can see a list of all of the empty legs available and tailor your trip around your transportation, if you please – there were 99 empty leg flights available across Europe when we did our research. Victor even shows you a photo of each available plane while you’re browsing search results – now that’s cool.

Of course, finding your perfect empty leg flight does require a bit of patience and luck, especially for those looking for very particular flight details. It’s advised that customers searching for empty legs be flexible, willing to book last minute, and travel in groups so that the price of the flight will remain as low as possible. After all, you do need to charter the whole plane, so if your group can fill all the seats, your price per head will really hit rockbottom. One site, JetPartner, claims that if you can’t find the flight you’re looking for, they’ll search for other customers with opposite plans and match you up as jet partners.

You may be wondering by now, though, “what about the return flight?” Well, that’s one thing empty legs can’t really offer. You’ll have to arrange a different flight for the way back to where you came from, because if your private plane were available for a return trip, you wouldn’t be booking an empty leg.

So basically, empty leg flights opportunities should be on your radar whenever you’re booking. You never know when the stars will align and your ideal itinerary will match with an empty leg. Even if you end up spending a bit more than you would on a commercial airline, the luxury and convenience should more than make up for your lightened wallet, and air travel might actually even be fun for once. We can dream, right?