An empty private plane creates some opportunity. But it also brings some risk.
Myth is reality. Legend says that you can find private jets that are flying empty — as in, without passengers — and book the plane for a great deal.
Commonly, a leg is empty if the plane is heading to pick up passengers and take them somewhere, or if it’s dropping off passengers and flying back home, empty. If you think that chartering an Embraer Legacy 600 (normally a 50-seat regional jet converted to 13 luxury seats for the private flying world) from Texas to Southern California for $14,800 instead of the retail rate of $39,000 is a good deal, then legend is reality.
We booked this flight, and others, though not all at that amazing discount. Empty legs are real, but they carry real risk. The risk is that the “live” leg — the trip that the originating passengers booked — may cancel. A large charter operator told us, “It will happen, and someone will get burned.” If you’ve booked the empty leg, as well as a hotel, business meeting, other logistics, and the originating flight cancels, there’s no empty-leg flight.
If your broker can’t scramble and find another empty leg, you now have to fly commercial (urghhh) or book another private flight, but at the going rate. You need flexibility. We have a client with two kids at out-of-state colleges and a home in Colorado, who loves to fish in Florida. He has a standing request: Keep your eyes open for empty legs to those destinations. If the price is right, he may book it.
This article first appeared on PaperCityMag.com .