Empty Leg Flight Pricing: Why Can’t They Go for Really Cheap?
Next to ‘What are empty leg prices,’ one of the most common questions we get asked is, ‘Why can’t empty leg flights go for really cheap?’ Customers are constantly asking if there are cheap empty leg flights that run closer to a few hundred dollars instead of a few thousand dollars.
What Exactly is an Empty Leg Flight?
If you’re new to the term, empty legs (also known as ‘deadhead flights’ and ‘one-way charters’) refer to flights that only fly one leg of a round-trip mission. Empty leg flights are designed this way because the charter plane needs to return to its home base or reposition elsewhere.
Empty leg flights generally arise because of one of these reasons:
- The clients are not returning to the aircraft’s point of origin
- It’s too expensive to have the crew and aircraft wait for the return leg
- The aircraft operator has booked the charter plane for another trip
To offset operating costs on the way home by filling the plane, air carriers offer steep discounts on one-way or empty leg flights with enticing empty leg prices. This is a win-win scenario for the traveler and the private charter aircraft.
How Much Do Empty Leg Flights Cost?
In most cases, empty leg flights are discounted and priced low enough to entice flyers to take a chance and book private jet travel over a commercial flight.
What does an empty leg discount look like? Empty leg flights are often discounted by 25 to 50 percent, depending on factors like the type of aircraft and the route. Charter flights that might normally be $30,000, for example, could go for as low as $12,000. If you divide that amount by a handful of passengers, you can see some pretty significant savings. If you don’t mind being flexible about last-minute travel, timing and the airport you land at, you’ll find an even greater discount in your empty leg special.
People who use private aviation regularly for business or pleasure understand the enormous savings, but sometimes people who are new to the private jet rental world wonder why empty legs flights can’t be priced at practically nothing…as in the cost of fuel or $500.
Costs Involved with Standard Private Jet Flights
The costs aircraft operators must pay per flight doesn’t change based on the flight type. An empty leg flight and a standard chartered flight are both going to cost the owner/operator the same amount of money. Some of those costs include:
- Aircraft fuel
- Pilot and crew wages
- Landing fees
- Hangar fees
To offset those costs, operators are willing to give potential travelers a deal on empty leg prices so they’re not left with the entire bill. Even receiving a fraction of the original flying cost is helpful when faced with footing the entirety of the costs.
Why Can’t I Get an Empty Leg Flight for $500?
Wondering why you can’t hop on a private jet for $500? Here’s what could happen if a private jet owner only charges a few hundred dollars for empty leg charter flights.
1. It increases the risk of damage or wear and tear to the plane
As this Charter Broker article explains, “An empty leg is more complex than simply someone paying for a one-way flight and the aircraft returning empty. It combines scheduling, operating procedures, and commercial policies, including owner approval.”
In other words, if the private aircraft owner charges minimally for the flight, they will eat the costs elsewhere.
2. It could put the client’s safety at risk
Brokers with the highest safety standards such as Stratos need empty legs to meet its safety parameters.
As an ARGUS-certified broker with our own in-house Approved Vendor Program, all aircraft, crews and operators must meet strict standards. Sometimes brokerages with a priority on price over safety can offer empty legs at really cheap prices because they don’t need the flight to meet the same standards.
3. It would set an unrealistic precedent
If private flyers believed they could always book flights for that price, they’d be disappointed the next time they went to book a charter flight by the traditional pricing. Instead, operators price empty leg flights fairly so it’s an incentive to last-minute and/or budget-conscious travelers but they’re not losing money or putting passengers or the plane at risk. This way, it’s a win-win for everyone!
Sometimes operators are also able to offer a bit of flexibility with departure times, so you can see big savings without having to go too far outside your intended itinerary, and, most of all, you know your broker has done everything possible to maximize your flight’s margin of safety.
Is There a Difference Between an Empty Leg and Private Jet Charter?
When you book a charter, you know exactly when you fly, where you fly to and what aircraft will take you there. When you book an empty leg, these factors are already finalized. You’ll simply be hopping aboard an already scheduled flight for a discounted price.
See Our Empty Leg List
Are you looking to save big with empty legs, but want to help make sure your safety is a priority too?
Stratos Jet Charters is obsessed with safety, and it shows. Reach out to one of our agents about your last-minute travel plans and we’ll make recommendations about one-way jet charter flights with great prices that won’t compromise your safety. We’re happy to share our empty leg list with you and get you on a discounted private jet flight.
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