Empty Leg Offers
If you've ever wanted to fly private charter but think you really can't afford it, there's an option out there that may surprise you. An option that could give you the chance to fly to your favourite destination in the style, luxury, and convenience of a private jet. It's called "empty leg offers." The term may sound a bit strange to you, but rest assured these offers are a great deal which could potentially save you hundreds of pounds over commercial air travel.
Empty Leg Offers Explained
When a group or business charters a jet for a trip to a conference, we'll say London for now, the group charters the entire aircraft for the round trip and the time between departure and return flights. When the bill is paid, all the seats on the plane are also paid for regardless of whether or not they are used. In our London conference example, if company A filled the plane with ten executives, yet two decided to remain in London for some holiday time, their empty seats on the return flight are called "empty leg" seats. Empty leg offers take advantage of those seats by offering them to individual travellers at discounted rates.
Sometimes empty leg offers will include an entire jet rather than a few single seats. This occurs in special circumstances when a chartering organization secures a contract for a simple one-way flight. The plane needs to return to its home airport and the charter company wants to make as much money as possible, so there's no sense in sending a plane back empty.
How Much Are the Savings Worth?
Charter companies tend to advertise empty leg offers anywhere from 25%-50% off the normal charter rate. How that rate is determined varies from one operator to another. As a general rule however, the retail cost of the whole jet or its individual seats has already been covered by the original chartering organization, resulting in a much lower empty leg rate for you.
Are There any Risks with Empty Leg Offers?
Yes, there are inherent risks with this type of travel. Most notably is that charter companies generally make no guarantees regarding schedules, flight times, or rates. This is because empty leg offers are fully dependent on the original flight taking place as planned. Business plans are subject to change at a moment's notice, disrupting the plans of an empty leg traveller. Be advised that charter companies making these offers are not obliged to provide alternative arrangements if your original flight changes or is cancelled.
One other risk associated with an empty leg flight is the possibility of less than standard treatment by charter companies. Empty leg offers have been around for the last decade or so, but as more people learn about them there are also more who want them. Charter companies are slowly beginning to feel as though they are being taken advantage of with empty leg offers and only continue them begrudgingly. They may nor treat you like a VIP, but if you only care about getting to your destination it may not matter to you.
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