If you’re in a hurry and worried that traffic is going to make you miss your flight, Uber is now offering a solution — if you’re willing to pay for it. The popular rideshare service has taken its services to new heights, with helicopter services from Lower Manhattan at the Downtown Manhattan Heliport to JFK Airport. The Uber Copter service began in early July but was previously only available to its highest tier users, Platinum and Diamond members. As of early October, the new helicopter rideshare service is available to all Uber users.
Like any Uber ride, the price of a quick helicopter trip varies, but a one-way ride generally costs between $200 and $225 per person. Passengers should mind their luggage requirements because they will be limited to just two items of luggage: a small personal bag and a carry-on bag that can’t weigh more than 40 pounds. The service is available during rush hour from 2-6 PM, the time of day that it will offer users the most value.
Using the Uber app, customers are able to schedule a flight as far as five days in advance, until space is full. Uber assumes that customers are also taking an Uber car to the heliport. The flight itself takes about eight minutes, followed by an Uber car ride from the helipad near Terminal 8 at JFK to a passenger’s designated terminal. All three legs of the journey can be booked together, but are billed separately. The goal is to keep the full trip to around 30 minutes, up to half the time of other forms of transportation.
For the flights, Uber is using Bell 430 twin-engine helicopters operated by Newark-based company HeliFlite. Two pilots are on every flight, and there are six leather passenger seats for a maximum of eight people on board. Equipped with Rolls-Royce 250-C40B turboshaft engines, the helicopters are capable of speeds up to 161 mph and cost about $6.2 million each.
The New York program is relatively new, but Uber is looking to expand the Uber Copter service in the future. Other large, traffic-congested cities like Melbourne and San Francisco could benefit from the convenient service. Rideshare programs and services that utilize aircraft are becoming more common and affordable, opening this type of exclusive business and leisure travel up to a wider customer base. Accessibility and convenience are a large part of what makes rideshare companies successful and the aviation industry is on board.