Flying in a private jet is an elite experience.
A frequent misconception is that flying privately is not realistic for “normal” people, only uber-affluent leisure and business travelers.
There is a way to fly privately at a reduced cost, though. It is called an empty leg flight.
An empty leg flight is a route that private charters must run to get an aircraft into position. Here are two scenarios:
Travelers who book empty leg flights enjoy the same luxury amenities as full-price travelers. At Elite Jets, that includes high-speed Wi-Fi, personalized temperature controls, recliner-like leather massaging seats and a digital entertainment system to watch movies, TV shows and news. Concierge services also are available.
Below are five tips for successfully booking an empty leg flight through Elite Jets:
Select Preferred Destinations Elite Jets offers on-demand service and flies to destinations across North, Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean. Popular urban locales include greater New York City, Chicago and Washington, D.C. Top rural destinations include the Smoky Mountains, Catskills and Far West. Empty leg flights are one-way routes, so passengers need to plan transportation for the originating or return leg. In many cases, that means a commercial flight into or out of Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers.
Search Availability Some commercial airlines post flight schedules up to a year in advance. Generally, most Elite Jets passengers book their flights two weeks to two months in advance.
Elite Jets maintains a webpage specifically for empty leg flights. The dynamic schedule shows available routes for the next two months. Travelers can view dates, airport locations, travel times and the number of seats for that aircraft. Over the course of one week in March 2021, for example, Elite Jets posted empty leg flights to and from airports in Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Georgia, Delaware, Massachusetts and New Jersey, as well as international flights to Mexico, Bermuda and the Bahamas.
Empty leg flights are added daily.
CHECK OUR SCHEDULE: Empty Leg Flights
Traveling Party Commercial airlines quote ticket prices per passenger. Meanwhile, private charters quote a price for the entire jet. Elite Jets’ Phenom 300 can safely transport eight passengers, while the Legacy 500 can carry nine passengers. No other passengers will be on your flight unless you invite them.
Elite Jets often transports complete wedding parties, golfing buddies and multigenerational families. Travelers can split the cost, bringing the per-passenger price into the same ballpark as first-class tickets on commercial airlines.
The Discount The top question about empty leg flights relates to price. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to answer. Multiple factors contribute to a price quote, including:
The Points Guy, an online travel blog, pegs empty leg discounts as high as 75% off the regular rate. Many charter companies discount standard rates in the 25-50% range.
Who Books Empty Leg Flights Empty leg flights are not for everyone. However, individuals with certain flying preferences should consider empty legs as a viable option:
Commercial airlines lock in flight schedules months in advance. Aircraft fly from Point A to Point B, and maybe Point C, before returning back to Point A. If you do not want to visit Point B or Point C, you are out of luck.
On the other hand, private charters set their schedules based solely on passenger requests. After flying guests to their destination, Elite Jets pilots might find themselves with a luxury jet, full tank of fuel and no passengers. Rather than flying an empty jet to their home base, charter companies want to fill those seats.