Many average people have discovered the secret to empty leg flights. When booking a private jet, an empty leg flight is the cheapest way to travel.
What is an Empty Leg Flight?
An empty leg flight is also called a repositioning leg flight, a “ferry flight”, or even a “dead-heads”. Whatever you call it, these flights are where a plane flies to its next destination without passengers.
Some of the reasons a flight may be an empty leg flight:
- The private jet has to go to another airport for routine maintenance.
- The plane was rented for a one-way trip from Miami to Las Vegas and has to return to Miami.
- A private jet is current at an airport in Seattle, but a customer in San Franciso has booked the plane for a flight to Atlanta. So, the repositioning leg from Seattle to San Franciso will be empty. It will only have the flight crew.
Private jet rental companies don’t like to waste money. They want to put someone into the plane (even for just a few hundred dollars) because it’s better than taking a loss on the flight.
According to XO, almost half of all private jet fleet flights are flown empty.
How to Find Empty Leg Flights
One easy way to find empty leg flights is to use twitter and the hastag #emptyleg. While you can find flights it’s not targeted.
XO has an app (actually two apps). Download the one called XO Legacy and they have a section called “Deals” that has empty leg flights. It covers locations world wide and you can add in your location to get notifications of empty leg flights in your area.
As shown above, a flight from London’s Farnborough Airport to Dublin is $3,395 or $565 per seat.
For many popular routes, like Las Vegas to Miami, you can many times just book a single seat because they company is confident it can fill most of the seats.
While there are some brokers for empty leg flights, it’s best to book direct. These companies let you book online or through their app: Victor, VistaJet, Sun Air Jets, Jettly, and New Flight Charters.
Delta Has Options
Delta had a program called the ‘Private Jets Sky Access Membership’. Unfortunately, it’s no longer an accepting new members. But, if you were lucky enough to get in, for $6,000 a month you could book unlimited empty leg flights that were set to leave within 24 hours. The fees for these flights were almost free, and Delta would even give you a discount on your return commercial flight.
Now, Delta Airlines offers an alternative program. Delta owns ‘Wheels Up’, a private jet charter company. Wheels Up offers a few different membership levels starting at around $3,000 per year.
With membership to Wheels Up you get access to tho a service called ‘Hot Flights’ which lets you book greatly discounted empty leg flights. You also get access to private shuttle flights, shared private jet flights, and membership into a members-only online community. In this forum members find other people that may want to share flights to the same destination.
What to Watch Out For with Private Jet Rental Deals
Depending on the company, the price you are quoted may not be the price you pay. Changes in fuel prices and other factors might cause your rate to go up. Be sure to read the fine print.
Your flight can easily be cancelled. Even if you have booked your flight, most companies that offer empty leg flights reserve the right to still rent out the plane to a full priced client. So, it may be wise to book another commercial flight that you can cancel in case your private jet experience gets cancelled.
Also, the departure time may change. The rental company may realize that they can bump up the departure date and squeeze in another flight. That’s why it’s best not to use an empty leg flight for an important event.
Most of the downsides of booking an empty leg are bad for you. While they can cancel your flight, you can’t. The good news is that if you book direct, you can negotiate. You can ask them to honor a fixed price, guarantee the departure time. And while you’re at it… haggle over the price. Many times they will come down.