Understanding Empty Legs Pricing and Availability: What You Need to Know

May 26, 2023

A new era of private jet travel is upon us. A record high of movements was registered in 2022 while new providers are entering the market at a fast pace to get a piece of the puzzle. Furthermore, the market has welcomed the entry of first-time flyers after the pandemic, as well as new business models trying to leverage the increased demand. A portion of that surge in customers has come via empty leg flights, which is a term used in the private aviation industry to describe a one-way private jet charter where the aircraft has no passengers booked for the return trip. 

Empty legs flights travel without any passengers usually back to their home base, which explains why private jet providers sell them at a discounted rate – because the aircraft has already been chartered for the first leg of the journey and the company is looking to offset the cost or reduce the amount of loss generated by flying the plane empty back to its home base. 

How Empty Legs Work

These flights can be a cost-effective option for travelers looking to experience private aviation, as they can often be significantly cheaper than booking a traditional private jet charter for the same leg. However, it’s important to note that the availability of empty-leg flights can be unpredictable, and they may not always be available to fit specific travel schedules.

According to EBAA data, roughly 40% of all business aviation operations are empty legs, an important figure that has attracted new services and platforms to the industry, mainly through online marketplaces or enhanced digital systems that offer the flights, although with no established bond with the aircraft operators. And the previous is paramount, not only concerning access to a wider pool of empty legs but also to certified operating providers in every corner of the globe, like the case of the empty legs offered by Icarus Jet.

Factors Affecting Empty Legs Pricing and Availability

Overall, the availability and pricing of empty-leg flights can be unpredictable, as they depend on a variety of factors. Before going through those, potential passengers need to know that working with a reputable private jet charter company will allow them to enjoy a safe flight and find the best possible opportunities considering the limitations of this specific type of travel.

The pricing and availability of empty-leg flights can be influenced by various factors, including the route – just like a normal private jet flight, the longer the empty leg, the higher the cost. Seasonality also plays a role, with demand varying during seasons and resulting in a fluctuation in availability and prices. The aircraft type also plays a part in the final price, with larger private jet planes being more expensive than smaller ones, yet larger jets can seat more passengers while making the flight more cost-effective from that standpoint.

How to Find Empty Legs

It is safe to say that technology has a big role in lowering the empty seats in the industry. Having an updated calendar with routes while allowing passengers to book a flight using a mobile device is a business standard these days. Icarus Jet offers empty-leg opportunities online and connected with the availability of operators worldwide, allowing customers to plan a safe, seamless, and affordable private jet experience, with the same customer support and overall service as a regular executive charter.

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Furthermore, empty legs do not allow choosing the aircraft for a certain route, which is considered one of the best traits that this industry brings to the table. Likewise, any changes from the offered itinerary might result in additional costs. It is also important to note that cancellation policies apply (almost always non-refundable after booking) as well as itinerary restrictions, however, while a near match is very rare, if the customer has flexibility, empty legs are unique opportunities. 

Tips for Booking an Empty Leg Flight

Flexibility plays a key role in maximizing empty-leg opportunities. This allows customers to book the best possible option according to the route needs and itineraries and even combine the empty leg offer with a commercial airline flight. Furthermore, booking in advance, when possible, is a great way to increase the chances of finding a flight that suits the needs of passengers. It is important to state that sometimes empty leg flights become available just hours before departure and therefore greater flexibility are required, although prices might be lower than usual due to the last-minute nature of the offer.

In essence, if you’re new to private jet travel or unsure about booking an empty-leg flight, working with a knowledgeable broker can make or break the overall experience. They can guide the booking process, flight details, and any other questions you may have but, most importantly, they only work with certified operators that offer top-notch aircraft operated by highly trained crews.

Conclusion

Although marketed at a substantially discounted rate, empty legs still consider all the perks of private jet travel, from 10-minute boarding at a private terminal to the possibility to fly with family or friends for an unparalleled price. For this reason, empty legs have served as the point of entry for many private jet travelers wanting to experience the segment before committing to a long relationship with a provider. And buyer beware, once you try private there is no going back. 

Empty legs are adding value to the private aviation ecosystem by enhancing access to a service only reserved for celebrities and millionaires in the past. They adapt to the needs of an increasing number of first-time flyers that entered the industry during the pandemic, allowing them to fly at a reduced rate while not jeopardizing the private aviation travel experience. 

Flexibility is key as well as understanding the shifting nature of the industry in terms of seasonality and its impact on aircraft availability and pricing. Partnering with a reputable private jet provider like Icarus Jet with established relationships with certified operators is the safest and most cost-effective way to experience an empty-leg flight.

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