29 July 2022


The truth about Private Jet Empty Leg Flights: Risks and Advantages

An Empty Leg is a private charter flight that flies without passengers on their way to reposition themselves from one airport to another. This usually happens when the aircraft is returning to its home base after a one-way flight, or when it flies empty to a new location to pick up passengers at the start of a new job.

For example: if you book a private jet from Rome, but the plane is currently in Nice, an empty leg flight from Nice to Rome becomes available. The resulting repositioning flight is then offered at a discounted rate since it otherwise flies empty.

What are the risks of an empty leg flight?

No guarantee

Among the most common risks of Empty Leg flights is the fact that the operation may be cancelled. This happens when the main flight, which originated the empty leg, changes. Such flights may also undergo changes in time schedules or even in the airport of origin or destination, so their availability will never be guaranteed and unlike commercial airlines, the charter company would not be responsible for getting you to your destination.

For example, if the person who booked the original one-way flight changes his departure date or time, so will the empty-leg be affected by these changes. Or if the private jet should head to a particular destination to pick-up his owner for a meeting, but the owner’s meeting had been cancelled or he had just changed his mind, the Empty Leg would be cancelled too. Empty legs can be subject to variations and cancellations anytime up until departure.

No schedule flexibility or pre-planning

Anyone who likes to plan ahead or has a strict schedule may dislike the fact that empty legs are almost always released only some days before the flight. In addition, this modality does not have schedule flexibility for departure times, which are already pre-established by the operator or customer of the chartered flight.

Second, due to the nature of empty legs, you’ll typically only be able to book it in one direction. So, you’ll need to find your own way home.

Prices are not always lower

Empty legs are known to be up to 75% cheaper than a normal private charter flight as aircraft operators are often willing to sell the empty flight at a much lower cost; however, they can sometimes end up costing even more for different reasons:

Few Availability in Peak season

Currently the demand for private aircraft is so high that the real lower-priced empty leg flights are rarely available, especially to/from popular summer destinations over peak season. For example, a one-way charter flight to Ibiza is usually sold as a new flight from Ibiza to another destination at full price, in this case there is no empty-leg flight available.

No back-up in case of technical issues

Technical issues are rare but they can occur and should you need a new plane it will almost certainly be more expensive on short notice. Most private jet brokers will propose a second option for you, but you may end up paying for a round-trip and only using one-way (one leg). An honest broker will make you aware of this possibility when you originally book the empty leg flight.

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Advantages of empty leg flights

Sustainable & cost saving

Given the current climate crises, an aircraft flying empty is not ideal for the environment. By booking an empty leg flight, you are booking a flight that would have taken place anyway and, hence, avoiding two planes flying when just one can do the job. Taking advantage of empty repositioning flights is useful to reduce our carbon footprints.

So, if you are lucky to book an empty leg that suits your needs and prepared to board at short notice, it is not just a great way to experience private jet travel at a much lower price but also a responsible source of travelling.

In addition, Cielo Aviation includes a carbon emission offset program on every flight operated:

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If you are flexible and don’t have to travel at a particular day and time, empty legs are a cost-effective and sustainable option. Do keep in mind that since private jets often use minor airports, you may not be at a gateway where you can hop on an alternative airline flight should your empty leg be cancelled or changed last-minute.

Especially during peak season to/from popular summer destinations availability is very limited and empty legs are being sold at normal prices due to high demand and limited supply.

Arrange a Private Jet Flight with Cielo Aviation

At Cielo Aviation, we ensure that you reach your destinations in the fastest, safest and most comfortable way. We offer competitive pricing for Private Jet and Helicopter flights and partner only with accredited and certified operators.

To check availability for empty legs, contact us on +39 02 87 157 524 or by e-mail at charter@cielo-aviation.com.

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