Uber Is Launching Helicopter Rides in NYC so You Can Get From Downtown Manhattan to JFK in 8 Minutes
Uber is not the first to bring this service to NYC, however — and it's not the cheapest.
Starting this summer, some NYC Uber riders will be able to call a helicopter to John F. Kennedy International Airport via the ride-share app.
According to Bloomberg, Uber will begin testing a helicopter shuttle service between downtown Manhattan and JFK Airport on July 9. The average ride will cost between $200 and $250 per person depending on demand and will take about eight minutes.
But this isn’t like UberPOOL — not everybody will be able to experience the new service. Uber Copter will only be available to top-tier Uber users.
The drive from downtown Manhattan to the airport can take about an hour, sometimes closer to two, depending on traffic conditions. According to Uber, the service should cut travel time down to a half-hour, including ground transfers.
“This is a trip that so many travelers make a day, and we see an opportunity to save them a huge amount of time on it,” Eric Allison, head of Uber Elevate (the company’s aerial division), told The New York Times.
Uber is not the first to provide this service in NYC, however. Earlier this year, Blade launched helicopter rides from several Manhattan locations to all NYC area airports, including JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark.
"There is no greater validation of Blade’s strategy and No. 1 market position than Uber’s entering the Urban Air Mobility market in New York City," Rob Wiesenthal, CEO, Blade Urban Air Mobility, Inc., told Travel + Leisure.
Blade rides cost $195 per person, and come with a pre-flight lounge experience that includes express check-in, snacks, and drinking Berne rosé from a helicopter-proof sippy cup. In addition to booking by the seat, Blade also offers private charters and crowdsource services.
Uber Copter rides will leave from a heliport near Wall Street and can be booked on demand or up to five days in advance. Each helicopter will be capable of carrying five passengers and their belongings.
However this isn’t an option for travelers with large suitcases: Each rider will be limited to one personal bag and one carry-on, weighing no more than 40 pounds.
Blade's luggage allowance is even more strict — capped at one personal bag and one small carry-on per person with a 25 lb. maximum for airport rides — though a ToteTaxi service is offered for an additional fee. The Blade ToteTaxi will deliver two oversized pieces of luggage to the airport for $85, plus $40 for each additional bag.
Allison said Uber plans to expand its Copter services to other cities following this New York City test run. Blade currently provides airport transports in Los Angeles and San Francisco as well. Only Platinum and Diamond members of Uber's loyalty program, Uber Rewards, will be able to book Uber Copter rides.