Why Can’t Empty Leg Flights Go for Really, 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?’ Like, really cheap, as in a few hundred dollars instead of a few thousand dollars.
First, if you’re new to the term, empty legs (also known as ‘deadhead flights’ and ‘one-way charters’) refers to flights that only fly one leg of a round-trip mission 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.
How much are empty leg private jets?
Empty legs are often deeply discounted and priced low enough to entice flyers to take advantage of the low empty leg prices.
What is an empty leg discount? Empty leg flights are often discounted by 25 to 75 percent, depending on factors such as the type of aircraft and the route. So, charter flights that might normally be $30,000, for example, could go for as low as $12,000. And if you divide that amount by a handful of passengers, you’re going to see some pretty significant savings if you don’t mind being flexible about last-minute travel, timing and the airport you land at.
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.
Why empty leg flights aren’t priced at $500
If the owner were to accept a low-ball offer such as $500….
1. It increases the risk of damage or wear and tear to the plane, and the owner loses money
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.”
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. 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.
How much are empty leg flights cost?
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 the entirety of the costs.
What is the difference between a charter and empty leg?
When you book a charter, you when you fly, where you fly to and what aircraft will take you there. When you book an empty leg, all of these factors will already be determined. You’ll simply be hopping aboard an already scheduled flight for a discounted price.
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. 888-593-9066.