It can sometimes seem like the world of luxury travel and private jet charters is the sole domain of those for whom money is no concern. While that’s not strictly true, it’s certainly the case that VIP travel can have a significant impact on the wallet for those of us not lucky enough to be able to frequently use the services of private jet brokers.
That doesn’t mean that private jet rentals are off-limits for the cost-conscious traveller, though, as empty-leg flights offer some of the most affordable luxury travel solutions on the market. But what is an empty-leg flight? And how much do empty-leg flights cost? This article will break down this unique area of private aviation, guiding you through the world of empty-leg flights to offer luxury travel on a budget.
What is an empty-leg flight?
Quite straightforwardly, the empty leg of a flight happens when a private aircraft makes its return journey to its home airport. If a jet leasing company is based in Paris and flies a client to Singapore, for example, there’s an empty plane for the return trip. Step forward the empty-leg flight.
If you’re a client in Singapore who wants to get back to Europe in the kind of elite luxury that only private aviation offers, then clearly there’s a market here. By booking an empty-leg flight, you prevent the aircraft returning home empty while at the same time having access to all of the usual trappings of private jet travel – untold luxury, incredible service, complete convenience… you know the drill.
Who uses empty-leg flights?
These kinds of arrangements are perfect for travellers who want the extra luxury that private jet travel affords but who either want to cut costs or are looking for a last-minute solution. Let’s say you’re on a business trip with an indeterminate duration – it could be days, it could be weeks or even a month. You could contact a jet provider to have an aircraft on standby at all hours, but is that really cost effective?
Instead, looking for a last-minute empty-leg solution is the perfect way to make use of the convenience and luxury of private jet travel without having to shell out to keep an aircraft on hand. Saving thousands on travel is always going to look good to the higher-ups too – little wonder so many use empty-leg flights!
It’s not just the corporate world of business travel that makes use of these solutions, as empty-leg flights are also perfect for families on holiday when the date of departure is flexible. Let’s say you’re skiing and you don’t mind whether the trip lasts one week or two – you’re perfectly placed for an empty-leg return.
When it comes to holidaying, using empty-leg flights as outbound travel solutions is even more fun, as you’re not entirely in control of the destination. If you’re looking for luxury and want a quick getaway that might surprise you, browsing the empty-leg flights that will soon depart from your nearest airport is a great way of having fun with your vacation, and can lead to some unexpected experiences!
What are the advantages of empty-leg flights?
There are three key areas where empty-leg private jet travel excels, and they might surprise you.
It’s been mentioned already, but this is an incredibly cost-effective way to experience private jet travel. The discounted private jet flights that become available through empty-leg solutions are offered far below their usual retail price because, logically, providers make no profit at all if they fail to fill their empty-leg flights. This impetus to not make the return journey a complete waste leads to them slashing prices, with some truly ridiculous deals on offer for those with a little flexibility.
While you’re still on a jet burning fuel, empty-leg flights do slightly mitigate climate guilt as their very nature means that the flight would take place without you. Flying an empty plane across the world is perhaps the least eco-friendly form of travel, so by ensuring that it’s at least carrying some passengers you’re able to see that the trip isn’t wasted.
Booking an empty-leg flight also means that you’re not required to arrange another private jet flight from scratch, sparing the climate the environmental impact of a further trip and making empty-leg flights perhaps the most eco-friendly form of private jet travel, all in all.
All the bells and whistles
The description of empty-leg flights thus far might create the impression that you’ll be stuffed in a cargo hold and treated as an unnecessary inconvenience, but nothing could be further from the truth. Paying a reduced price and having less autonomy over the flight itinerary doesn’t affect the fact that you’re still a premium client using a luxury travel service. As a result, you’ve got the right to expect everything that any other private jet customer would.
Gourmet food, sumptuous luxury interiors, elite service… everything that one envisages on-board a private jet is available on-board an empty-leg flight, so to see this as a watered-down or compromised form of private jet travel is, plainly, wrong. Stick your feet up and make the most of it!
What are their drawbacks?
Naturally, there must be some factors that hinder empty-leg private jet flights, or else everybody would be using them.
The nature of an empty-leg flight means that you’re stripped of autonomy when it comes to the departure and arrival destinations. While this can present difficulties, it’s arguably not a true drawback as it’s fundamental to the very nature of these flights themselves. Nobody would consider an empty-leg flight if they weren’t already aware of this, so to hold it against empty-leg travel would seem harsh.
Because these are often last-minute operations, there can be instances where there simply isn’t the time to make all of the prior arrangements that would usually precede a private jet flight. Let’s say you want the entirety of the plane’s interior covered in decorations to celebrate the birthday of one of your co-passengers. Arranging a flight months in advance makes this trivial, but if it leaves at 6AM tomorrow morning then obviously that’s a tougher task. The key is finding a good provider like Skyllence, with the flexibility to accommodate clients even within the condensed itinerary of empty-leg travel.
How can I book an empty-leg flight?
There are two ways to go about securing an empty-leg flight: browsing flight deals, or contacting providers directly. The former is straightforward enough – simply head to the website of any of a number of empty-leg providers and browse until you find something that suits you, before booking it and beginning to pack.
For the latter, it’s arguably even easier. Find a reputable provider that operates numerous flights to a host of destinations, like Skyllence. Ideally, your location will be a frequent port of call, making the chances of empty-leg flights returning or departing from your nearest airport higher. Once you’ve made contact, let them know what you’re looking for and how flexible you are and then leave them your details. They’ll contact you if anything comes up that fits the bill – perfect!
A win-win solution
Whether you’ve got a specific trip in mind with some flexibility around the travel arrangements or you’re simply looking for something out of the blue that could tempt you, empty-leg flights are a fun, exclusive, and cost-effective way to access the elite luxury of private jet travel. They’re cheap, eco-friendly, and packed to the brim with the usual accompaniments, while at the same time offering providers like Skyllence a way to access a broader spectrum of potential customers, as Skyllence CEO, Vilma Vaitiekunaite makes clear.
“Offering empty-leg flights is a win-win for clients and providers: we make money on an otherwise empty plane, they receive huge discounts, and customers who might not normally make use of our services get to see what we’re made of. What’s more, we get to encounter a broader, more diverse range of clients that have different requirements and needs, all of which makes us hone our skills and become better at our job – what’s not to love about empty-leg travel?!”