By Taylor Garre
Being at the mercy of rush hour traffic is a nightmare for travelers flying out of New York City. But helicopter company BLADE is offering a five-minute travel alternative that could let you fly over the stop-and-go traffic on your way to the airport.
One month after launching continuous flights between Manhattan and John F. Kennedy Airport, BLADE has expanded its service from New York City to include LaGuardia Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport. The price of a ticket for what BLADE calls an Uber Black alternative, is $196 per seat.
"Since expanding our continuous flight service between Manhattan and JFK, we are seeing faster than expected adoption by people choosing to fly to the airport rather than driving" said Rob Wiesenthal, CEO of BLADE in a statement. "It has become immediately apparent that fliers want the flexibility to fly between Manhattan and, not only JFK, but all area airports."
Cheddar spoke to Will Heyburn, the Head of Corporate Development and Business Processes at BLADE about the new routes.
Breaking down the BLADE Airport service logistics, BLADE flights depart from one of the four BLADE lounges in the city, on weekdays from 7 a.m. through 7 p.m. or Sunday early afternoons and evenings.
"We've been testing Airport for many years now and our customers love it, but they wanted simplicity and they wanted availability." said Heyburn. "We just made it simple, we have a dedicated aircraft going back and forth for each airport, there is no schedule. When you open the app, we ask you a simple question, when do you want to arrive curbside? We take care of the rest."
Ground transportation between airport helipads and commercial airline terminals is also included in the BLADE trip price.
"We realized we could cut the drive time down from two hours to a five minute flight and we can do it at a price that is already competitive for business," said Heyburn.
When asked to compare the chopper ride prices with popular competing services, the BLADE executive said, "On most days if you are trying to go from Hudson Yards to JFK for example, our price would be competitive with or even cheaper than a ride sharing app."
Heyburn explained how BLADE has cut the price of helicopter rides from the private planes flown in the past. "Before BLADE, you might have mailed a check to a company that would scramble an aircraft that would fly 20 minutes to pick you up in Manhattan, five minutes to the airport and 20 minutes back. So, you were paying for 40 minutes of flight time. That was a bigger aircraft that used more fuel."
Now, BLADE is working to create a more fuel efficient, and price effective flight. "We have partnered with BELL Helicopter, we're using one of the most fuel efficient aircraft that are available today and we re-position one time from a base that is much closer to Manhattan, in the morning. And then we fly back and forth filling our aircraft with passengers in both directions." Heyburn said, "Now when you use BLADE the only cost we have to cover is that five minute flight time between Manhattan and the airport."
Heyburn said air travelers using BLADE vary from commuting to surprising a loved one, "We have people expensing and we have people every week now that are commuting. We have people from Long Island commuting into the city and from New Jersey." He even commented on BLADE sparking some romance for travelers, "We have people flying to the airport to meet people in baggage claim and flying back together."