Empty Leg Flights Might Be Your Ticket to Flying Private for Cheap: 7 Accessible Private Jet Subscription Services

Turns out, you can afford to fly private — and these companies can help you book a seat. Here are our favorite private jet subscription services that can get you seats on private planes.

Wish you could fly in the lap of luxury? Your chances are getting better — if you opt for an empty leg flight, that is. 

How much does it cost to fly private? 

It ranges significantly, but to charter a jet typically costs anywhere from $1,200 - $8,500... per hour.

You can see, then, why most regular folk don't even consider a discussion on the subject — it simply isn't realistic for most budgets. Well, at least it hasn't been until now. 

With companies like Jettly popping up, the private jet travel world is opening up to those who may never have dreamt they'd set foot on a luxury jet! 

Enter: empty leg flights.

What is an empty leg flight? 

Also known as deadhead flights, dead legs, empty sectors, or one-way transients, empty leg flights are flights that occur when a private jet has dropped off a client and the aircraft is headed for its next destination — with no one on board. 

This empty plane flying without passengers is considered a wasteful, non-revenue producing, lost opportunity, so most operators try to find passengers to fill it. This process is often done via a private jet subscription service, offering plane seats at a significantly discounted rate. 

The catch? You have to be flexible! The plane's direction might change on a whim if the next client cancels or switches plans — leaving you without a ride. But if all goes as planned? Your next plane ride is private, and very cheap.

Read on for our tour:

The 7 most accessible private jet subscriptions for empty leg flights

Jettly

Known as Canada's first and swiftest growing jet club, Jettly connects travelers to any of 9,500 private aircrafts at exceedingly low prices. 

According to Jettly, “every time we book a jet, one of the flights either to or from the destination becomes available as the aircraft repositions to pick up its next set of passengers.” 

Jettly then tries to fill these available, empty leg flights by sending out notifications to those subscribed to their service to see if the flight lines up with their travel plans. If it does? That passenger could save up to 75% off the regular price of a conventional private jet charter.

To use Jettly, you’ll need to first create an account.

Then from the flights below, we clicked in for details on the one starting in Dusseldorf on 9/19. 

First, this popped up:

So we entered our info and hit 'Submit'.

I immediately received a flurry of emails, including the following:

The Low Price Guarantee link took us here, where you can upload a competitor's price for them to beat:

If they can't beat it? You'll get a full month Jettly membership free!

Looks like Jettly's free plan allows unlimited flight requests so you can see their low prices and decide whether you'd like to upgrade to a paid membership plan. 

More about Jettly: 

Price: Personal memberships allow up to 3 charter bookings per month for $370. Business memberships are $670, and allow up to 10 charter bookings in a month. Additional membership benefits can be viewed here.

We decided to look through the detailed membership info and found this:

You can also opt for single flight arrangements for a one-time flight or empty leg with a direct-to-consumer price (see below!), ground transportation support, a personal flight coordinator, flight support up to departure, aircraft replacement guarantee, operator replacement guarantee, onboard catering support, and more.

And the prices aren't too bad!

There's also Jettly's Subscription Service, which comes in different plans ranging in price from free to $997/month:

In addition to the Free, Personal and Business plans we mentioned already, there's also a Jet Card for $997/month which allows unlimited charter bookings and perks like Skype and Slack integration, Jetty Welcome Swag, $50 in Jettly Eats per month and free UberBLACK transfers.

You can also find Jettly discount codes here.

How can I get this service? Create an account here and sign up.

Pros:

  • User-friendly website
  • Excellent customer service
  • Maintains full 5-star rating on FaceBook  and Yelp reviews
  • Some reported their system is simplified; recommended for anyone needing a charter for emergencies
  • Free app here

Cons:

  • Could not find any cons in the reviews we located

Bottom line:

Since Jettly is a newer company, there aren't a lot of customer reports available - and all of the few we found, at this point, are a full 5 stars. We'll keep our eye out for any updates, but as of now, Jettly is golden.

Jetsmarter

According to the New York Times, if you like the idea of:

  • Riding in a luxury jet (albeit with people you may not know)
  • Pulling into smaller, private airports with no TSA
  • Walking in for your flight just fifteen minutes before takeoff... 

You might like JetSmarter.

Search through available seats on JetSmarter's shared flights to book what you need for a fraction of the usual cost of a private jet.

You can also create a flight based upon your preferred aircraft type, destination and travel dates, booking all or part of the seats on board, with flight support provided and a low price guarantee.

You can pay-as-you-go and book flights at regular non-member rates, or join as an Individual, Family, or Enterprise for varying fees and enjoy discounted pricing on flights.

Use the JetSmarter app to book flights, or view already-scheduled flight options to over 170 worldwide destinations by date, choose a high-frequency route between major cities, or create your own flight.

Enjoy hassle-free boarding the day of your flight when you meet up with professional and courteous Ground Representatives at the private jet terminal. The best part? You don't need to be there any earlier than 15 minutes prior to your takeoff time.

The FBO private terminal offers a quiet place to relax between or before flights complete with complimentary champagne and a cozy lounge with WiFi.

No pat-downs today! Security at the FBO terminal is efficiently non-intrusive, consisting of an inspection of your bags and digital background check pre-boarding. If you charter a private jet, you'll skip the security checks completely.

The Ground Team greets you, gets you ready for your flight, then escorts you onto the plane.

Enjoy plenty of legroom and exquisite comfort aboard your flight, where heavy jets can look forward to complimentary 4G high-speed WiFi, gourmet dining, cocktails, at least one on-board flight attendant, and more.

When you land, a black car can be arranged through the Concierge to pick you up on the tarmac and assist you to your final destination.

More about JetSmarter:

Price: There's a $3,000 one-time initiation fee for both the Individual and Family memberships with annual membership fees of $4,950 and $9,950 respectively. You can also opt to 'pay-as-you-go' for the usual non-member rates. You can also look for JetSmarter promo codes here.

How can I get this service? Create your account, download the app, and choose your plan here.

Pros:

  • Fly with other likeminded passengers for an enjoyable ride
  • Ideal for flexible travelers who travel often and use the app often
  • Access to empty leg flights is good
  • Courteous staff

Cons:

  • Some expressed frustration at new changes which have been made to JetSmarter policy
  • Some complained that flights become uncomfortably crowded when fully booked
  • Not extremely affordable for some budgets

Bottom line:

One man's trash is another man's treasure. If you're accustomed to 100% tranquil solitude on private jets, or guaranteed flights at a certain time on a certain date, this probably isn't for you. These flights can get full and sometimes passengers aren't completely quiet and reserved. 

The more flexible you are, the more you'll probably like JetSmarter — but do read the fine print before signing on for your membership. Some felt new company policies weren't as great in value as the previous ones were.

Blackbird

Get matched with a pilot or a group of passengers headed your way and split the costs among you when you hitch a ride on a Blackbird!

With an app and level of convenience that’s been compared to Uber for the sky, Blackbird ensures there’s no long waits in line, no arriving 2 hours before your takeoff. Just roll into the serenity of a private airport tarmac at least 15 minutes before your flight is scheduled to depart, and you’re good to go. 

Headed by CEO Rudd Davis, who wants to make air travel accessible to everyday people, not just rock stars and celebrities, Blackbird utilizes a U.S. network of approximately 1,200 regional airports to avoid the busier and more expensive major airports.

Blackbird partners with JetSuite, Tradewind Aviation, Shorewind  Aviation, FoxTrot and others,  and are open to more quality partnerships as well.

More about Blackbird:

Price: There are 3 ways to fly with Blackbird.

  • Hitch is the cheapest (like an empty leg flight), where the pilot splits his/her costs with you and other passengers as a sort of flight-pooling. The cost varies with flight, number of passengers — could be as low as $50.
  • Reserve allows you to find a seat on scheduled flights, and ends up being about $300 per passenger.
  • Charter is where you actually charter your own flight, ending up at around $1,000 or more.

Note: Hitch flights depart from California and Florida only at this time and can travel a maximum of 500 miles--  but they'll be expanding into other regions soon, and offering longer flights. Until then, nationwide flights are offered through their Reserve and Charter programs.

How can I get this service? Go here, sign up for an account, and start searching for rides going your way.

Pros:

  • Very affordable rates with Hitch, if your flight is available
  • Get $25 credit with every successful referral and they'll get $25 credit too
  • Blackbird is meant for adults, but you can add children and infants as well (infants will ride in your lap)

Cons:

  • Departures only from California and New York  and only short flights offered with Hitch currently, but expanding (those who can afford it can try Reserve and Charter)

Bottom line:

If you've got departures headed out near you (Cali and NY only), Hitch is a fantastic way to snatch super low prices on short flights of less than 500 miles, either one-way or round-trip. If you're working with a bit more money, Reserve and Charter have greater range and longer flights available.  Either way, Blackbird seems off to a good start with a solid reputation to build on.

BLADE

Fly 3 ways with BLADE, and get on board the seaplane, helicopter, or jet of your choosing. Choose fly-by-the-seat and get on any scheduled flight in the Northeastern U.S., or opt to charter your own flight worldwide, or even crowdsource.

When you fly with BLADE, you'll be treated to their lounge's unique retro style, including specially designed Customer Experience member uniforms, all drawn from the memories of CEO and Co-Founder Rob Wiesenthal's childhood flights with his parents. 

Wiesenthal remembers his parents dressing him up for the flights:

"It was the golden age of aviation — the '60s to early '70's, the Jack  Kennedy, Frank Sinatra era — when getting on a jet plane was a big deal and an adventure. Not everybody did it. And there was always a story attached to it."

Noted in numerous publications included The New York Times, Business Insider, The Verge, CNBC, and Axios, BLADE has grown madly in popularity since its launch on Memorial Day 2014.

BLADE offers booking by-the-seat, which lets users choose from available seats on already-scheduled flights anywhere in the Northeastern U.S.

You can charter your own flight anywhere worldwide for the right price, with an additional option to crowdsource open seats across the BLADE network on the flight you create.

The BLADE Experience also features a specially designed sippy cup for your rose wine in a lounge decorated in iconic artwork and stacked with vintage reading materials.

Your flight with BLADE can be as long as cross country or as short as a helicopter ride across Manhattan - if you've got to get there, BLADE has a way.

In addition to By-The-Seat, Charter and Crowdsource, you can also set a Flight Alert and get notified when the next flight matching your criteria is available for by-the-seat purchase. (Flight Alerts will notify you of empty leg flights as well).

More about BLADE:

Price: Ranges with desired flight and type of ticket purchased. 

For example, a 10-person flight to Nantucket from Manhattan including helicopter transfers is appx $7,500. A direct flight from Manhattan to Nantucket in 2 days is $980 (sold out), while a Crowdsourced flight from Boston to Martha's Vineyard departing at 4:30 pm today would be $4,750 between 8 people ($593.75 each) in this Grand Caravan:

Make sure you have the app downloaded and check it often, as flights are constantly being added day and night. Also, be sure to check for BLADE coupon codes here.

How can I get this service? Set up an account here and start browsing for your ideal flight.

Pros:

  • Relaxing lounges with servers, drinks, and artwork
  • Flexible departure times (go when you're ready)
  • No long security check lines 
  • 3 ways to book flights
  • Helicopters, seaplanes, and more ways to fly

Cons:

  • Expensive for some budgets

Bottom line:

If you want to fly in style and hang out in swanky private lounges, BLADE is the spot for you — if you've got the cash to back it up. 

BLADE started out by transporting East Coast elites to their seaside vacation homes, so offering flights as low as a few hundred per seat is probably very gracious of them. Still, some might do better to wait for Flight Alerts for something cheaper if you've got that flexibility.

JetSuiteX

If other sites have left us wondering how to find their equivalent of empty leg flights, this next service comes right out and lets you book a seat on any available flight you select — using JetSuiteX.

JetSuiteX makes flying private affordable and offers a fleet of exclusively brand new Embraer Phenom 100 aircraft, accessible through its no commitment programs with pricing that sets it apart.

Although flights are currently only available for departure and landing within certain California and Nevada locations, the prices were still superb when we did our practice booking. 

The best part was the immediate pricing availability — no need for them to email you a secret quote later. It was all right there for anyone to see whenever they needed to see it.

You can earn perks with JetSuiteX when you refer a friend too. Here's how it works:

After you create your profile, click on Refer Friends and share your personal code on social media, text, email, or otherwise. Whenever friends use your personal code to book, you'll get $20 in flight credit. 

Don't forget to check JetSuiteX's SuiteDeals every day for flights starting as low as $536 — for the entire plane! You can also set up a SuiteDeal Wishlist to get notifications when a flight out of your desired airport becomes available.

More about JetSuiteX:

Price: It can range broadly, however you'll get the price upfront immediately.

For $199, I could get a seat on a one-way flight from Burbank to Oakland on the date of my choice. I chose the regular XFare, but there's also XPlus Fare, which would have been $219. 

XPlus fares are refundable, and offer extra benefits like free additional baggage, no change fees, and more, plus all the standard perks of JetSuiteX such as complimentary snacks and drinks, seat selections, etc. Regular Xfare is not refundable, and has only the basic benefits.

JetSuiteX also offers the more pricey private jet charter options, for anyone interested. Membership details are available here and charter pricing info can be negotiated by calling 1-866-779-7770, Ext. 5.

A round-trip booking from Orange Co, CA to Las Vegas NV for one person in late September was $199 one way and $399 for the trip back. To get an empty leg price for your trip, enter your destination and travel dates here.  

How can I get this service? Create your profile here and start browsing for flights.

Pros:

  • Maintains a 4.5 star rating on TripAdvisor
  • Maintains a solid 4-star rating on Yelp
  • Top notch customer service
  • Flight attendants will correct noisy passengers to keep the experience pleasant
  • No TSA, no lines, no parking fees

Cons:

  • While their terminals do stock coffee, water, chips, and soft drinks, it would be good to have a bit more selection there
  • Some felt their flight attendants were a little too stern
  • Some said there was no AC on their flight 
  • Larger passengers may find the seats a bit narrow

Bottom Line:

If you're traveling within their Californian and Nevadan routes, you'd do well to check JetSuiteX's empty leg flights for a seat — you could save up to 75% of regular private jet pricing. You'll get luxury flight accommodations without parking fees, long lines, or TSA headaches. And most previous customers rated them 4 or 5 stars on Yelp and TripAdvisor, too.

Air Partner

Those in the UK may find their cheapest Empty Leg subscription for private jet travel deals with Air Partner

Among their many services (including Group Charter, Private Jets, Cargo Charter,Travel Services, and more), Air Partner offers Empty Legs, with current listings available to browse as well as a subscription to their weekly email updates.

Air Partners' Empty Legs emails are distributed every Wednesday to subscribers free of charge. You can also view the emails online, here. Discounts abound on these lists, including, for example, a recent 8-seat private jet flight to the lovely Palma from London's Biggin Hill for £6,700 (making it only £837 per person), and a flight for 7 to Prague from the same city of departure for £5000 (£714 per person).

Or if you'd like to browse further, this 8-seater was able to fly from Paris to London for €6000, or €750 per person. How about Olbia to Stansted? This 11-18 seater flies there on September 20th for £12000, or £660-1090 per person.

To inquire on a currently open Empty Leg, you can fill out the form on their site, listed above.

Price: Depending upon the size of the aircraft (how many seats you need to fill) and your destination, you could pay as little as $600 per person, or even cheaper. To see your best deals, sign up for the weekly update subscription here.

How can I get this service? Go to the website and sign up here.

Pros:

  • Excellent customer service
  • Great deals, especially if you're traveling in a group
  • Supports two great charities
  • Handy free weekly email subscription of Empty Leg updates

Cons:

  • Not as cheap as some other Empty Legs offered elsewhere

Bottom line:

UK citizens may find a great deal on Air Partner, especially if they have a group to help fill the seats on their aircraft. Be sure to sign up to get Empty Leg updates in your inbox every week — it can't hurt to see what's available, particularly since it's free of charge!

JetPortfolio

With departures and destinations throughout the world, Dallas-born JetPortfolio gives members access to the best in private jet air charter as well as a substantial inventory of empty leg flights via a low monthly membership price.

Although technically not a private jet subscription, your low monthly membership rate of $69.00 beats most of the cheap private jet subscriptions as it offers a 5% additional discount off already low empty leg prices, unlimited requests, a weekly email with the lowest priced empty legs, and access to over 1,800 empty legs. Plus, you can cancel anytime.

Empty legs are the last minute seats available for a private jet, with an ever-changing inventory. On JetPortfolio, there are often more than 2,000 such flights listed. The image below shows empty legs in the United States over the course of a two week period. 

Some are priced already and others will have pricing requested. All empty leg flight deals are for the full aircraft, with specifics on dates and times set by the individual operators themselves.

The Empty Legs membership program is paid monthly and grants members access to both a full American and an International Empty Leg flight inventory. 

You can browse flights and request any you like with unlimited requests. You'll also get a weekly list of the lowest-priced empty legs available. 

Once you've decided on your flight, just reserve it and get ready to fly! JetPortfolio will treat you like every other Private Charter Client and you'll enjoy the entire aircraft at a magnificent rate.

JetPortfolio has access to over 2,000 aircraft including light jets, mid-size jets, super mid-size jets, heavy jets, pistons, and turboprops. Read about each type here.

Get the app here.

More about JetPortfolio:

Price: $69.99/month.

How can I get this service? Create your account here and start browsing empty legs.

Pros:

  • Maintains a fleet of 2000+ plush private aircrafts
  • Advanced digital booking system
  • User-friendly search engine
  • Low monthly membership fees

Cons:

  • No examples of empty leg flight pricing to view before paying membership fees; only routes

Bottom line:

This appears to be another newer company as there aren't many customer reviews available, nor anything on the BBB, Trustpilot, Yelp, or otherwise. What we did find was a glowing review of their digitized services, a few followers on LinkedIn, and around 150 likes on FaceBook. Their website is gorgeous, however, and if they stick to their word on empty leg flight offerings. you're sure to be satisfied with this service.

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Posted on Nov 25, 2013