I’ve been on a few flights before that felt practically empty, so I’ve often thought about this question before: is there a minimum number of passengers required for a plane to fly?
Surprisingly, the answer is NO, there is no minimum number of passengers that planes need to fly from one destination to the next.
Sometimes, it actually does happen that a single person does fly solo, as was the case a few years ago when a woman was the only person on a flight from Scotland to Greece.
And sometimes, airlines actually fly empty planes for a number of different reasons. First, there might be only a couple or even zero people on board a flight, but the cargo bay may be full of freight that needs to be transported to a particular place.
Another reason is because a particular plane might be designated to be full of passengers the next day so even if there are only a couple of people onboard, the flight will proceed in order to reposition the plane for the next flight that will be crowded.
Yet another reason why planes will fly with a few or no passengers is because of maintenance. Airlines schedule out months ahead of time and planes move through preplanned routes with maintenance schedules factored in.
Maintenance sometimes occurs overnight so it is better to have the plane in the location where maintenance is supposed to take place even if the plane had to fly with no passengers on it to get there.
Now you (and I) know the ins and outs of this business! When we’re all able to fly safely again, happy travels!