Uber Copter: Fly From Manhattan To JFK With Uber

Filed Under: Uber

Uber is expanding beyond traditional ride sharing in New York, and will soon be offering a helicopter service, giving BLADE a run for their money.

What is BLADE?

For those of you not familiar with BLADE, they’re essentially a tech company and air charter broker, as they sell seats on helicopter and prop services in all kinds of markets.

Recently they took their business to the next level, as BLADE started offering continuous weekday helicopter service between Manhattan and the three NYC-area airports (EWR, LGA, and JFK).

They have fixed pricing of $195 per direction, though with a promotion code you can fly with them for just $120.

While they say that their pricing is already comparable to a luxury car service between the city and airports, they hope to lower fares even further in the coming years.

Meet Uber Copter

Well, it seems like Uber is ready to give BLADE a run for their money, with the introduction of Uber Copter.

Starting July 9, 2019, Uber will begin offering helicopter service between Manhattan and JFK. The ride is expected to take eight minutes in each direction.

Initially this will just be available to Uber Platinum and Diamond members, though I imagine over time that will be expanded to everyone. For what it’s worth, Platinum status requires 2,500 points, which corresponds to ~$833-2,500 of annual spending, while Diamond status requires 7,500 points, which corresponds to $2,500-7,500 of annual spending.

There are some things that make Uber Copter different than BLADE, though:

  • Uber says fares will start at $200, though they’ll have dynamic pricing
  • Uber is including the cost of an Uber to get to the helipad in the fare, which BLADE doesn’t do
  • Uber’s weight limit for a carry-on is 40 pounds, compared to BLADE’s 25 pound limit
  • For now Uber is just offering afternoon weekday service, unlike BLADE’s continuous service on weekdays

Bottom line

It sure seems like the Manhattan to NYC-area airport helicopter space is getting crowded. I’ll be curious to see what this is like when it launches. In particular, I wonder if Uber is simply contracting out to different helicopter companies, or if we could see some helicopter companies working with both BLADE and Uber.

Would you choose BLADE or Uber Copter between Manhattan and JFK?

Comments
  1. I thought the qualification period for Uber status was 6months, so wouldn’t the qualification spending be twice those amounts?

  2. Uber has operated a chopper service in Dubai for years now, open to everyone for around ~$150. Never found it very useful here but probably makes more sense to get to JFK from Manhattan, especially for businessmen.

  3. The fact that they include the ride to the helipad means they’ve thought this out better than Blade, and the higher luggage weight limit. Definitely competitive and I’d do this over Blade any day. Downsides are it’s not guaranteed to be running (runs as demands is there) so you’d still need a backup plan just in case, and the dynamic pricing.

  4. @RCB Downside is that helicopter is not a very safe transportation mean and extra weight and weight imbalance make it exponentially unsafer. Do you prefer to fly with helicopter in which everyone has a 40lb luggage (even if the max total weight is just below maximum suggested for the helicopter). Personally I will hesitate …

  5. Miz – What complete and utter rubbish. Even if you have no idea how helicopters work, which it’s clear your don’t, basic common sense should tell you that given the weight between people varies by FAR more than 15lb, 15lb extra hand luggage will make no difference.

  6. You people are crazy. I frequently use helicopters on the west coast and they are faster and safer than any other mode of transportation (google: Helijet). Sounds like a great time saver.

  7. @ Dean
    Few of these services in Manhattan will be offering anything close to what Helijet offers.

    Helijet operates twin-engined, four bladed Sikorsky S76s with full IFR capabaility that seat upto 12 pax. They are a beast of a helicopter. Helijet are also operate the Air Ambulance Service for the province of BC. Their pilots are flying year-round in some of the most challenging terrain and weather in North America. I too have flown them and would have no qualms doing so again.

    However the bulk of Uber’s and Blade’s cheaper services will probably be operated by single engined Ranger’s and Squirrels. I’d be doing my research first on who is the actual operator flying.

    BTW check out this video of a BCAS S76 slice through a phoneline and not even flinch. A Ranger or Squirrel struggle to recover in a similar situation.

    https://youtu.be/oP9RueP1-vI

  8. Great post majik.

    A bit like the inclusion of Robinson helicopters – a wealth of difference between the two.

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