How you can travel on an empty plane. “You can definitely make good choices”

A travel blogger reveals in an interview with The Telegraph how you can fly on a less crowded plane or even be the only passenger on a flight.

What can be more soothing than being alone on a plane PHOTO archive Adevărul

There's no way to 'guarantee' you'll end up on an empty flight, but you can certainly make good choices” said travel blogger Gilbert Ott.

He explained that late night flights are typically the least crowded.

Between New York and London, for example, the last flight of the day (both ways) will typically be the quietest, as business travelers prefer to fly earlier” says Ott.

Airlines routinely run empty flights regardless of low passenger load index (PLF) to maintain quality aircraft at airports, the blogger added.

Travel in winter

Statistics from the International Air Transport Association show that the average passenger load (PLF) in Europe drops significantly in the cold months compared to the summer. The average load in July was 87%, compared to 73% in February.

And despite the craziness surrounding the holidays, aviation analyst Henry Harteveldt said: “I've seen a number of people posting that they're the only passengers, or one of very few, on flights during holidays like Christmas, US Thanksgiving and New Year's morning“.

Fly to lesser known destinations

Harteveldt also explained that some airlines have lesser-known and unusual so-called “tag” routes that continue a long flight from an airline's headquarters.

There aren't many of these anymore, as aircraft now have a longer range, and it's expensive to operate these flights“, he said.

Emirates' Sydney-Christchurch is an example, probably an extension of the Dubai-Sydney flight. A friend of mine just flew on this flight and was the only passenger in the Premium cabin.

He also noted that KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has an obscure route between Buenos Aires, Argentina and Santiago, Chile, along with a flight from Amsterdam to Singapore with a connection in Bali.

Air France has a special flight from Los Angeles to Tahiti originating from a Paris-LA flight.

Even though it's not the most profitable, Ott says some airlines will operate additional flights to certain destinations simply as a “defensive tactic” against competitors.

There are many times in a year when airlines will operate multiple daily flights to, say, Santorini, just to provide more choice, even if they can't actually sell all available seats“, he said.

The ability to offer that choice is designed to drive more bookings and win throughout the day. This is common on routes such as London-Dubai where frequency is important.

How can you find out how full the plane you want to fly is

This is not such an easy thing to do, warns Harteveldt.

You cannot follow the seat plan for your flight because seat plans do not reflect the number of reservations, only the number of people who have selected a seat at that time“, he said.

“Remember that there are airlines that charge fees to reserve a seat before check-in opens. Therefore, passengers can wait to choose their seats when check-in opens and choose their seat for free.”

However, Ott recommends the ExpertFlyer website for live seat maps to “outpace” less experienced passengers.

Best now is to be among the last to board and ask the gate agent if there are any spaces you can take advantage of“, Ott also said.