Featured Post Travel Tips

Empty Legs, what’s the real story?

My company gets calls every single day asking about empty legs, we do talk about them on our website after all. If you’ve spent time sleuthing the internet for empty legs, or have read articles in the national newspapers on private jet travel, you’ve probably heard about flying private jets for $500, etc., and possibly believe that requesting “empty legs” when flying private will get you just that. If you want to know the “real deal” with empty legs, read on, because I’m going to let it all out!

The original premise of The Early Air Way back in November of 2007 was to sell empty legs, which for the most part were completely unused for anything. I was young and energetic, and believed I could harness empty legs to dramatically reduce the price of chartering a private jet (I thought I’d be selling flights for $1,000.00). At the time, roughly 30% of all private jet charter flights were flying with no people in the back. Now midway through 2012, I can safely say that the idea to build a private jet charter company strictly around the idea of empty legs was a flawed one. Today we use empty legs to save our clients significant sums of money on a daily basis, however offering them for $500.00, $1,000.00, etc. is not how we do that.

You can’t rely on the notion of getting a private jet for $500.00, $1,000.00, etc. I repeat, you can’t rely on the notion of getting a private jet for $500.00, $1,000.00, etc. Frankly, with current aviation technology, you never will be able to, no matter what some interesting articles will lead you to believe. Those articles are published because they’re interesting and catch audiences’ eyes! This, my friends, is the truth. Of course, there are always exceptions, which I will explain.

People will ask… “If the plane has to move, $1,000.00 is better than nothing, right?” Well, on paper this sounds good, but it is not that simple. To understand empty legs, you must first understand the private jet business. Although a multi-billion dollar national industry, the private jet charter industry is still very small and relatively niche. With that in mind, the industry reaches into greater geographic territory than the commercial airlines, offering access to an exponentially larger number of airports, all the while being a fraction of the size while having no fixed schedule. Our cards are spread thin. As a result of this, the empty legs we’re left with are pretty specific to the needs of the client who requested the flight leaving us with each empty leg. In other words, most of those empty legs are for flights that really no one will want, at times most people won’t want. Moving that airplane just a few miles to make the route match the empty leg clients’ requested city pairs immediately costs more in operating expenses than the $1,000.00 price tags people are reading about, the same with overnighting the crew a day to make the dates match, making sending the airplane home empty the more cost effective option.

What I’ve found to be the best use of empty legs is to find a “close match” to our clients’ one-way requests. For example, if a client wants to fly from Memphis, TN to Las Vegas, an empty leg from Jacksonville, FL to Santa Barbara, CA could offer a winning solution. Yes, we will have to pay to reposition the aircraft twice on each end, costing us a few thousand dollars. Yes, we may have to let the plane and crew sit in Florida another night to match the dates to our client’s request, costing us another couple thousand dollars. However, on a longer flight like this, even after the costs mentioned, you will still end up way ahead using an empty leg. The real goal here is to sell you the flight for the base hourly rate of the plane, without charging you for repositioning the aircraft (said costs would be absorbed if the empty leg is long enough). In the end, we’re not left with a jet charter that costs less than a First Class ticket, but we are left with a jet charter that can be as much as 50% less than what some other private jet providers are offering the same trip for.

Finally, those $500.00 / $1,000.00 trips you’ve read about do exist, but they are extremely rare on desirable routes, and you have to be extremely flexible in order to get them. To get those rock bottom below cost deals, the trip will have to be marketed to you, you’ll never find one by simply calling a provider for the flight, the reason for this is that the numbers are too low to solicit human labor to find them for you. Next, they will only be available at the very last minute (night before or day of travel), since by that point there is little chance the legs will be used for revenue flights. Finally, they will be for short flights on small planes, and you’ll never get to alter the flight times or departure/arrival airports simply because an alteration will cost the provider more than the cost of the flight itself. These deeply discounted empty legs should be treated as a thrill to try out a private jet for a small amount of money rather than a means of predictable transportation.

A real deep-discounted empty leg experience will involve a mad-dash to the airport, to fly to a place you may not want to go, and booking last minute commercial tickets to fly home (or renting a car); all fun if you just want to say you flew on a private jet! Longer distance empty legs however can be used to make a one-way trip normally costing $35,000.00 closer to $18,000.00-ish, this is where the real value for the seasoned private jet traveller is.

That, my friends, is the truth about empty legs.

Alex Early Featured Post Travel Tips

Share a Private Jet & Sharing a Private Jet

Written by: Alex Early, CEO of The Early Air Way
June 26th, 2013

We get calls every day from people asking if we offer “shared rides” on private jets. Callers are generally not thrilled when we explain to them that we don’t.

What you should know however is why we don’t offer shared private jet rides, and that the concept of a shared private jet flight isn’t something you should rely on as a means of reducing the cost of your next private jet adventure. It will just be a waste of your valuable time.

In the private jet business, it is difficult to generate buzz. We’re a niche industry that caters to a niche clientele. The media eats up press releases that offer private jet products at mass-market prices, however. After all, who wouldn’t be enticed by the possibility off flying on a private jet for less than the cost of a commercial airline ticket? This is the reason you read so much about shared private jets… because the media eats up the notion. This is also the reason some companies try to do it, because it is an easy way to get a lot of calls, very quickly and inexpensively; relatively speaking of course.

Unfortunately what we end up with as a result is buzz about a product that the marketplace just can’t deliver, and a lot of wasted time because of it. Here are the main reasons why per-seat private jet charters just don’t work:


There is such a strong alternative to per-seat private jet flights, with consistently low prices, a route network that is unbeatable, and a schedule frequency that is second to none…Commercial aviation! Yes, flying private has so many benefits to commercial aviation and is an invaluable travel tool, however not when all you’re looking for is one seat at a cheap rate.


Aircraft owners, and those who pay enough for a charter to justify the operating costs of the airplane spend the extra money for private planes for several reasons including privacy, and the notion of setting their own schedule and departing on their own time. These people for the most part are not interested in a little bit of money to take a stranger on their flights. There really is just no real inventory out there to justify these “shared ride” flights. To offer a plane cheap on a per-seat basis, there has to be someone else picking up the major tab of the aircraft’s operating costs, and that is nearly impossible to find.


Putting everything else aside, the notion of selling an individual seat on a private jet isn’t even a legal practice. Air charters are governed by the rules of FAR part 135, which are the rules and regulations for on-demand air carriers. It is illegal to sell individual seats on part 135 flights, which all private jet charters are. In order to sell individual seats, you need a part 121 operating certificate, which is the type of operating certificate that commercial airlines have.

Companies are attempting to sell individual seats on private jet charter flights though a loophole. The only companies you’ll see attempting to sell individual seats on planes are brokerage companies that do not hold any sort of FAA operating certificate. Said companies are chartering the entire aircraft themselves from the part 135 operator, and then attempting to sell the seats individually. For the time being, they’re getting away with this because the flight is still being booked as an on-demand charter through the part 135 carrier. This is a loophole that I don’t expect to last.

Those who attempt to sell individual seats on aircraft look to the same aircraft we utilize for their shares. In order to make the model work, they a) HAVE to get an empty leg, AND (not one or the other) b) HAVE to fill up the majority of the seats on the plane. We speak with our aircraft owners about these per-seat businesses all the time, and are told stories of literally being begged for empty-leg prices when empty legs aren’t available, because otherwise these passengers who booked a seat already will not be able to be given a ride altogether.

To make a long story short, as interesting as the concept sounds, it isn’t a viable business model. What you’ll find when looking for a per-seat shared ride on a private jet is that you just won’t get what you’re looking for 9 times out of 10 +, and that is simply because the market just doesn’t support it.

Aircraft Featured Post Industry & News

The Jet Hedging Advantage

Jet hedging has been growing in popularity as of late. As savvy business men and women look for ways to optimize their time and funds, hedging is becoming the new wave of normal for frequent jet flyers. Before you take the plunge, it is important that you understand what jet hedging is and its advantages for you.

What is Jet Hedging?

Jet hedging is a means of personalizing your jet charter experience. Simply put, jet companies develop profiles of their clients, and when the clients are ready to fly the companies provides them with possible options to fit their profile and needs. The client then chooses the best option for them. There are no start up costs, contracts or membership fees to join this program.

What are the Top Advantages?

There are several possible benefits from utilizing this program. Below are the top three advantages.

  1. Control: Clients are given full control over their flights with this system. They get to decide which choice best suits them and avoid or “hedge” flights that they do not use.
  2. Save Money: With jet hedging you only pay for what you use essentially, whereas with other plans you pay into the pot to have access when you need it. With this program you get to maintain your flexibility while making smarter investments.
  3. Freedom: There are no lengthy contracts or strings attached with utilizing this service. You can use it one time or once a week. It is fully dependent upon your desired usage.

As you can see there are clear reasons for the rise in popularity of jet hedging. It allows you to enjoy the luxurious travel of a private jet charter while limiting the costs and allowing you to only pay what you owe. There are also the advantages of maintaining full control of your travel dollars, which allows you to save money, and having the freedom to participate in the program as you see fit. With such great benefits, jet hedging is worth considering for your next jet charter.

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Aircraft Featured Post

Cessna CJ3+ Latest Private Jet from Well-Known Aircraft Maker

Although the Cessna CJ3 series had already proven popular among charter jet users, Cessna has now introduced the CJ3+, which has several impressive features. It is equipped with wireless capabilities, high-speed Internet and Garmin GPS technology. The CJ3+ has a maximum capacity of nine passengers, and has a range of almost 1,900 nautical miles.

Click here to read the rest of Terry Spruce’s article for

Featured Post Travel Tips

Jet Cards… What and Why?


If you spend a few minutes shopping for anything related to private jets, whether it be a charter flight or an entire aircraft, you’ll probably come across some sort of “jet card” program. If you’re even slightly considering purchasing a jet card, make sure to continue reading this article.

Simply put, a jet card is an account where a buyer locks him/herself into a pre-set number of flight hours to be flown during a pre-set period of time, on a pre-set type of aircraft, such as a Cessna Citation X, for a pre-set price; that much is pretty standard. The aircraft and flight infrastructures behind the various cards differ vastly however, and such cards only make financial sense to very specific types of fliers.

The original jet cards were conceived on the notion that they would lower the entry barrier into fractional programs such as NetJets and FlexJet, offering travelers the opportunities to fly fractional aircraft for a mere 25 hour annual commitment as opposed to a 100+ annual commitment and asset purchase. Jet cards through fractional aircraft providers offer their cardholders the consistency and predictability often assimilated with a fractional carrier; late model planes, planes with like paint schemes and cabin configurations, and consistent customer service.

More recently, the market welcomed jet cards offered by charter brokerage companies. Unlike the cards offered by fractional providers, cards offered by charter companies offer less flight experience consistency, though can match (or exceed, based on the outfit) the customer consistency on the ground of a fractional carrier. Flights by jet cards offered by charter brokerage companies are fulfilled by the national network of part 135 charter planes, which are individually owned aircraft placed on the charter market to defray operating costs for their owners. Cards offered by charter brokers tend to be mildly less expensive than those offered by the fractional carriers primarily because charter brokers can fulfill most of the flights for significantly less than the cost of fractional carrier flights.

It is this writer’s belief that jet cards in general should be avoided by most (but not all). To support my opinion.

1. The cost of one hour on a jet card is generally about the cost of two hours of a jet charter (though ferry hours may be required in a charter).

2. The cost of a jet card flight will be consistent for a given route, however the charter cost for the same flight will be less in most scenarios despite jet card marketing propaganda, and can be significantly less in many cases thanks to one-ways, empty legs, and floating aircraft.


Furthermore, it is this writer’s belief that jet cards offered by charter brokerage companies should be avoided even moreso. Charter brokerage companies fulfill their card member flights the same way they fulfill one-off charter flights. If a jet card member were to request a flight from New York to Los Angeles on their Gulfstream GIV card for example, the pre-set rate might fall in the $60,000.00 + tax range, similar to the cost of the fractional jet card. The charter brokerage company will likely turn to the wholesale market and cover said flight for $35,000.00 + tax if availability is good, leaving them with a “winning flight.” As the owner of The Early Air Way, a charter brokerage firm, I’ve designed our system to price flights based off of current wholesale market inventory, meaning that your price would be about $35,000.00 + tax for the same flight. It is true that we wouldn’t guarantee that $35,000.00 + tax rate on every flight whereas a cardholder elsewhere would be guaranteed the $60,000.00 + tax rate, however we seldom have to charge anyone the $60,000.00 + tax rate ever, even when availability isn’t optimal.

Jet cards make sense for charter fliers sometimes, however. On short (generally under one hour in duration) one-way or overnight flights, between two small towns, or on a heavy cabin aircraft such as a GIV, charters can be loaded with extra costs whereas your jet card program will still pass along your preset hourly rate. These are the few flights that can often be less expensive with a jet card than with a straight charter and would be a “losing flight” for the card provider. It is the general belief that the significantly larger profit margin on most flights through a jet card system will far outweigh the potential losses incurred by the provider on the rare “losing flights” mentioned above, offering an overall increased operating margin to the provider. Unless you fly a Gulfstream on one-way trips between two very small towns less than 500 miles apart from one another regularly however, you will likely be overspending by a significant margin with a jet card.

If you must purchase a jet card however, be sure to select the program with the most stability; after all, the provider will be holding a significant amount of your cash. Be sure to vet out charter brokerage companies with fewer than 5 years of history. If your broker’s jet card flight ratio of “winning flights” to “losing flights” is bad for a short period of time, the company can too easily go bust, disappearing along with your deposit. I will argue that the only jet cards worthwhile are those offered by large fractional providers, even if they cost more than those offered by brokerage firms, ONLY if you are one to regularly fly the rare “losing flights” previously mentioned. You can always hedge your card, making sure you simply charter a flight instead of booking a “winning flight” through your card provider.

Jet Cards aren’t for most, but they will benefit a select few. For most, on-demand charter is the way to go.

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