Private aviation is all about luxury. The high-end furnishings, the comfortable aircraft all to yourself, the ability to skip the long lines at the airport—in short, the exclusivity of it all. You can use a lot of words to describe private flights, but cheap is not one of them.

However, there is a way for flexible and savvy travelers to save thousands on private aviation: empty-leg charter flights. This week, we break down everything you need to know, including how to find an empty-leg flight and the potential risks.

But first, what is an empty-leg flight? These flights are just like any other private jet experience. Once you’re onboard, you won’t be able to tell the difference. So why are they more affordable? It comes down to the lack of flexibility.

Unlike typical charters, these flights happen on a set schedule and are usually the result of an aircraft being flown one way. Once the passenger arrives, the aircraft then has to reposition, meaning it must fly back to its home base before the next scheduled flight. As a result, there is typically a short window of opportunity to take advantage of these flights.

While the aircraft could, and occasionally must, fly without any passengers, it’s a costly endeavor best avoided. For travelers, the result is a steeply discounted private jet flight.

So, what’s the risk? It isn’t so much a risk as much as it is a disadvantage, and that’s the lack of flexibility. Unlike other private charters, you have to have a flexible itinerary that allows you to fly on a pre-determined route and schedule. And, sometimes, these flights become available only a day in advance.

However, while empty-leg charter flights fall short in flexibility, they more than make up for it in affordability, empowering you to enjoy the luxuries of private aviation and save money at the same time.

Empty Leg Charter Flights: FAQs

How do I find an empty-leg flight?

At Stratos, we built what we believe to be the best empty-leg flights website that makes travel planning as easy as possible. Simply search for your ideal empty-leg itinerary or view upcoming available flights and save on your next mission.

Nothing that matches your travel plans? Reach out to a flight advisor—there may be empty leg opportunities that have not yet been posted.

How much does an empty-leg flight cost?

It depends on several factors, but booking an empty-leg flight could save you up to 75 percent off the cost of a conventional private jet charter. That $12,000 turboprop flight from Miami to Charleston, for example, could cost as little as $3,000 plus taxes and fees. 

What else is an empty-leg flight called?

Empty-leg flights are also known as deadhead flights. This term has its origin in commercial aviation, where flight attendants and pilots reposition before their next flight. Only, in this case, it’s the aircraft that has to reposition. 

How often do private jets fly empty?

Repositioning flights is a necessary part of private aviation. It’s estimated that nearly 30 percent of private flights in the sky are empty. With so many empty flights every day, now is the best time to take advantage of empty legs.

So, are empty leg flights worth it? Absolutely they are. If you have a flexible itinerary and are open to flying on any safe and secure private jet, empty-leg flights are the best way to save money while experiencing the luxury and exclusivity of private aviation.

Questions about empty leg flights or ready to book your next mission aboard a private jet? Give our private flight advisors a call at (888)593-9066 to get started.