Yes, OK, so it’s a bit of a “come on in” title, but it is also a valid new program from private jet operator Volato. Their new Vaunt app gives you access to all the empty legs and repositioning flights across their fleet. You can reserve the whole plane for any of these flights and the cost is just $1,000 for a years subscription to the app, with no additional costs when you fly.
Empty Leg Flights Background
Every private jet operator has empty legs. These are also known as repositioning flights, as an aircraft drops of one customer, at say airport A, but then has to fly to a different airport, say B, to pick up the next customer. That intervening flight, between A & B, doesn’t have any paying customers – is known as an empty leg or dead head.
Somewhere between 30-40% of all private jet flights, for large fleet operators, are empty legs. Matt Liotta, CEO of Volato, told SherpaReport that in the last month approximately 37% of his fleets flights were empty legs.
How Vaunt Works
The new Vaunt program is very straightforward to use. Simply download and install the Vaunt app on your Apple or Android device. There’s no charge to install it. Then you can scan the available flights and watch flights and set up alerts, until you find one that you want to take. Once you find a flight that you want just join the waitlist. One particular person will be selected from the list and will be able to fly, along with any friends or family they want to bring along. “The day before the flight it's guaranteed and you know if it’s happening,” said Nicholas Cooper, President at Vaunt, adding “you don’t pay until you use the flight.”
The aircraft are mainly 4 seat HondaJets, which form the core of the Volato fleet, and there are also other aircraft from the Volato managed fleet. For instance, in the examples below you’ll see KingAirs and a Hawker 750. Note, these trips are one-way, giving members the flexibility to arrange their return journey through commercial airlines or other transportation options.
“There’s a big market of people who want to fly private,” said Nicholas Cooper, “what we wanted to do was create a market for people who wouldn’t usually fly privately.”
As noted in the title, the price for Vaunt is just $1,000 per year. There are no other fees when you fly, and you have use of the whole plane, so you could fly with up to 3 friends or family members on one of the four-seater HondaJets. Just one flight with friends or family would cover the cost of the annual subscription and members can take multiple flights a year, all for the one annual fee.
SherpaReport looked at the Vaunt app on the day before Thanksgiving, Wednesday 22nd November, and there were 17 flights listed for flights on Nov 23rd to November 25th. These included:
- College Station, TX to Houston, TX on a King Air 250
- Gatesville, PA to Greensboro, GA on a HondaJet
- Boca Raton, FL to Jasper, GA on a HondaJet
- North Chesterfield, VA to Lawrence, KS on a HondaJet
- Charleston, SC to Baltimore, MD on a HondaJet
- Fort Lauderdale, Fl to Tampa, FL on a HondaJet
- Santa Rosa, CA to Santa Barbara, CA on a HondaJet
- Tampa, FL to Charleston, SC on a HondaJet
- Oakland, CA to San diego, CA on a HondaJet
- San Antonio, TX to San Diego, CA on a HondaJet
The Hondajets had seating for four, The KingAir had seating for 8. The image below is a screenshot from the app on 22nd November 2023.
On Friday 15th December the app showed 15 flights, with 12 on HondaJets, 2 on King Airs and one on a nine passenger Hawker 750. The dates available ranged from 2 flights on the following day Saturday 16th to 9 on Sunday 17th to 4 flights on Monday 18th.
And the trips included Teterboro, NJ to Chicago; Van Nuys, CA to Las Vegas; Greensboro, NC to Savannah, GA; and Indianapolis to Lebanon, NH.
According to Volato the top destinations that have been available through the Vaunt app are:
- St. Augustine, FL
- Tampa, FL
- College Station, TX
- Houston, TX
- Atlanta, GA
- San Francisco, CA
- Naples, FL
- Palm Beach, FL
- New York, NY
- Boca Raton, FL
“If a member sees a flight, they could build around it, or they may already have a commercial flight planned and see a Vaunt flight and it becomes the ultimate upgrade,” said Nicholas Cooper.
As an example, Vaunt told us that one member took a flight from Las Vegas to California, but he started in Florida and took a commercial flight from Tampa to Las Vegas, in order to catch the Vaunt flight on the HondaJet.
Another Vaunt member noticed a flight from Tulsa to Fayetville and decided to jump on because his niece goes to school at Arkansas. So he took the flight, landed in Fayetville and took her to lunch on a Thursday afternoon.
Another member had a wedding to attend on a Saturday, then noticed a Vaunt flight a couple days before. So instead of taking a commercial flight from Greensboro to Charlotte, she and her two children upgraded to a Vaunt flight, then rented a car and drove back to Greensboro on that Sunday.
In total well over 100 flights have been taken on Vaunt, according to Nicholas Cooper.
This app is certainly an interesting way to make private air travel more accessible to everyday travelers while simultaneously filling these empty-leg flights. If you have plenty of flexibility it could be a fun way to travel.
(Note, you may hear quite a bit about empty legs from other industry sources, and as noted above they do represent about one third of all private flights – so there are a lot of empty planes out there. But, some unscrupulous operators have been known to use them as a low cost teaser, knowing that they could disappear at short notice if a full fare paying passenger needs to use the plane.)