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Everything You Need to Know About a Flight Leg

Often, certain airline routes may require making one or more stops throughout the trip for various reasons. The aviation industry generally refers to this travel strategy as a “flight leg”. Perhaps, you may have experienced a flight leg in your itinerary, especially during a long foreign trip, where you may even have had to change flights in order to get to your destination.

In this blog, we will take a look at what is a flight leg and things that you need to know when travelling to your desired destination.

What is a Flight Leg?

In air travel, a flight leg can be defined as a segment of a flight’s journey where it makes a stop before arriving at the final destination.

There can be more than one leg or segment of an airline carrier per travel and either require changing or without changing the aircraft. This is common both in commercial airline carriers and charter carriers.

For example, if you are flying on a direct flight from New York to Canada, this trip will be referred to as a leg or segment on the same aircraft.

Alternatively, if you are flying from San Francisco to Paris and have a layover in London, then this trip will have two legs or segments. One leg is from San Francisco to London and again from London to Paris, which is your final destination. In this layover, your flight can be the same aircraft that departed from San Francisco. Or, it can be another airliner’s aircraft taking you from the layover airport to your final destination via a connecting flight.

What is an Empty Flight Leg?

An empty flight leg is mainly associated with charter flights. Thus, when a charter flight is made to reposition, either by returning to the base airport after transporting passengers to their destination airport, or it is scheduled to go to another airport to pick up passengers for their next flight, it is called an empty flight leg.

What is a Flight Recovery Leg?

Sometimes, a flight’s scheduled route may need to be diverted to another airport due to reasons, such as bad weather conditions. This unexpected re-routing of the flight to transport passengers to another airport other than the scheduled arrival airport via an unscheduled flight segment is called a “flight recovery leg”.

Basically, it just means that passengers are transported to their intended arrival airport due to through a different flight that was not scheduled on the itinerary due to the occurrence of unexpected events.

Are Flight Legs Important to Airline Carriers?

A flight leg is basically a flight’s scheduled trip from one airport to the other. A flight’s route may also include one or multiple legs, depending on the itinerary.

If we take into consideration medium and long-haul flights, having one or more legs can provide convenience to passengers throughout their journey. For instance, it may not be easy for certain passengers to fly 16 hours on a non-stop flight to their destination. So, here, boarding a connecting flight from a layover airport to their final destination would make sense.

However, for short-haul flights, having a leg would simply be unnecessary due to the short distance of the flight’s route. Also, it will only add more to the passenger’s travel expenditure.

So, If Aircraft has a less number of passengers then it really gives small planes which are more profitable. For aircraft, the term legs are not much important but the cycle is important because material fatigue point of view aircraft maintenance is more concerned but other points of view like investigation and analysis leg are important.

Can I Skip Flight Legs? How does it Affect?

Airline carriers have strict travel policies, and passengers that do not adhere to their regulations are often affected with unpleasant surprises.

There are several flight itineraries that include one or more legs, including on the return flights for round-trips as well. Thus, if a passenger skips his/her first leg of the flight, whether it is intentional or unintentional, the airline carrier will consider the passenger being a no-show and can straight away cancel all subsequent flight legs, including return flights on their itinerary.

You must also be aware of the many downsides of intentionally skipping one or more legs of your flights, even on return flights on the same itinerary. Some of these disadvantages include the following:

  • Although skipping a flight leg is not illegal, however, airliners do not encourage passengers to make this a habit.
  • The airline carrier only considers a valid emergency situation if a passenger needs to skip a flight leg.
  • The airline carrier can mark your frequent flyer miles as invalidated.
  • You may lose your elite status membership with the airline carrier.
  • The airline carrier can cancel each subsequent flight legs throughout your journey, even if you just skip the first one, i.e., the first connecting flight.
  • If you purchased a round trip ticket and intentionally skips the first leg of your flight, then the airliner can cancel each subsequent flight legs, including all flight legs of your return journey.

Few travellers often use this tactic in order to save some money, but this tactic can have a grave impact on your frequent travelling needs.

Therefore, it is a good idea to inform your airline carrier beforehand via their customer service centre about your no-show and the reason for it.

Also, it is important that you read the terms of the airline carrier when purchasing a flight ticket and avoid any possible impact.


A flight leg can thus, be seen as a pretty useful business strategy of an airline carrier, particularly when flying on long-distance journeys.

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