• March 2, 2019

    What are “Empty Leg” Flights?

    Categories: Experiences

    This content is also available in: pt-brPortuguês (PT)

    Yup, you’ve heard it before, but what does this quirky terminology really mean? With the rise of social media, the term “empty leg” took off at a binary rate and became synonymous with a unique opportunity for last-minute trips. Now, are empty legs really worth it?

    The “empty leg”, also referred to as “repositioning flight” refers to a situation when the airplane is sent on a mission without any passengers. This might happen in a number of situations:

    • Someone chartered an aircraft for a one-way flight only and the other flight leg becomes available for sale
    • The airplane has to be repositioned to attend a passenger in a different location
    • The airplane is returning from a trade show, light maintenance, or similar.

    We can assume that under regular market circumstances, around 10-30% of all business aviation flights return empty. An operator or a contractor can decide to put such flights on sale and monetize them on either an internal charter network or directly to the consumers. There is no thumb rule when it comes to pricing of empty leg flights, but in general we can assume that such offers allow for up to 40-70% discount on original price.

    There are a number of things one should pay attention to before contracting an empty leg flight:

    1. Empty leg schedule is subject to changes. On average, every fourth empty leg offer suffers a modification or even cancellation due to changes in the original itinerary.
    2. Empty leg flights might not include any extras. Due to promotional nature of such offers, operators often avoid adding any extra services, such as hot meals, or alcoholic drinks.
    3. Not all empty leg flights are shared! Some empty legs can be purchased as stand-alone charter options, other include the pay-per-seat offer.

    Although less flexible in nature, empty leg flights offer the possibility to enjoy all the perks of private aviation travel, at a fraction of a cost. Some of our clients take this as an opportunity to test new airplane models before chartering them for longer flights. Does that sound exciting?

    With Flapper, you can buy individual seats on empty leg flights and enjoy occasional charter offers at discounted rates. Just download our app and go to the “Shared Flights” section to seamlessly browse among all the available offers.

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