The ultimate in indulgence and the pinnacle of luxury, flying privately is a way to make even the most opulent of first class commercial cabins seem somehow lacking. And for island hoppers, it’s the only way to fly. While there may be no doubt that the “wow factor” of flying privately is alluring, the drawback traditionally has been a price tag that puts it out of range – unless of course you know where to look.
Flying empty legs – or deadheading as it’s known to some – is one way those in the know enjoy the benefits of exclusive travel without spending exorbitantly on fares. In a nutshell, seats are available on private jets as they return from delivering or head out to collect primary passengers. The cost? On those formerly passenger-less flights, seats are made available at greatly reduced rates – reductions of 40% or more are not uncommon. The trick is to know where to find them. The benefits? Nearly priceless. Private travel means no TSA lines, no crowds, impossibly plush seats. Care to bring your four legged companion with you? No problem. Rover or Kitty can come aboard and curl up in your lap as opposed to in a carrier or worse, in the belly of the beast.
Magellan Jets, who estimates that nearly a full third of all private jets are flying empty legs; has a one-way search feature allowing passengers to plug in their desired dates and destinations to help match them with the best options. Return Jet, a online broker matching passengers with flights and the Manhattan-based Blue Star Jets are two other solid options for finding empty leg flights. Luring passengers with the concept that flying privately may be more economical than traditional first class, they may be right and with good reason. While travel booked without advance purchase in a first class cabin can come with tremendously inflated fares, last minute departures are actually more attractively priced when it comes to empty leg flights on private aircraft. While every itinerary may not work with all would-be flyers, most will find the options to be plentiful.
It’s not only flight brokers who offer these empty leg flights. Charter companies and private aviation groups have joined in as well. JetSuite is a private aviation group that makes its fleet available by the seat – or by the entire plane. The west coast based company offers a mobile app to let you fly on the fly and with the company’s ‘Suite Deals’, offers fares that are often well below what you would expect to pay – even in coach – on the commercial airlines. It’s another world of travel that provides you with the best of both worlds: the luxury of private air travel and the affordability of commercial.
By Gina Samarotto