“Empty Leg” Flights Won’t Replace Private Jet Ownership

There’s been a lot of noise in the private aviation industry about recent trends making private jet flight more flexible. Private jet clubs are springing up everywhere and have been growing in popularity, no doubt because of the indignities and discomfort people experience lately when taking commercial flights. Still, will these new trends focused on getting the most out of a single aircraft really make flying more flexible?

One of the most popular trends right now is chartering “empty leg” flights. These are last-minute deals on seats in empty planes that are being repositioned for someone else. Booking an empty leg flight means you are reducing the price of the plane’s transfer while saving big bucks on a regular charter flight.

There are some definite advantages to empty leg flights:

  • You only pay for what you need (as opposed to buying a jet you only use some of the time).
  • You don’t have to worry about jet upkeep or maintenance.
  • You cut out the middle man and save money.
  • You can reduce the costs even more by sharing the flight with other travelers.

The recent economic downturn certainly levied significant pressure on the business aviation market and surely contributed to the most recent innovations in terms of jet efficiency. However, chartering “empty leg” flights may not be for everyone.

There are some downsides:

  • You have no control over the type of aircraft.
  • You must adapt your schedule to the flight plan.
  • You have no recourse if the original flight is delayed or cancelled.
  • You may be flying into or out of an airport you wouldn’t have personally chosen.
  • Some flights are more popular and thus more available than others (LA to Las Vegas, Boston to NY, DC to NY, for example).
  • If you have a custom trip in mind, you might not be able to secure it —Italy to Saudi Arabia, for example.

Although chartering empty leg flights can fulfill some needs, for anyone who needs reliability, control over their schedule, or travel that is outside the standard routes, a private jet is still the best option.

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