Uber Copter Begins $200 Helicopter Shuttles in NYC Next Month, Other Cities to Follow

Not exactly the flying cars for hire Uber Elevate promised three years ago, but the whirlybirds are a step closer.

byChris Chin|
Car Tech photo


We might be ages away from actual flying cars, but that’s not stopping Uber from coming close to offering air travel for hire. Uber is on the verge of launching its latest division called Uber Copter, which is dedicated to those willing to pony up a hefty $200 to $225 for a lift from Lower Manhattan’s heliport near the Staten Island Ferry, to John F. Kennedy Airport out in Queens. Sounds rather fitting for the affluent clientele that works or lives on the island’s lower peninsula, where some of the world’s most expensive real estate and high-paying Wall Street jobs exist.

Beginning on July 9, the new service can be booked through Uber’s preexisting smartphone application. Normally, the journey would take at least an hour or two by car, depending on traffic and if you’re attempting the trip in rush hour. Using public transportation, such as the Long Island Railroad or the subway, would take an equally long hour—at least.

The Uber Copter ride would try and cut that down to about a half-hour with only eight minutes of airtime, while the rest is by ground transportation. Sounds like a great but very expensive way to skip the traffic on the Grand Central Parkway or the infamous L.I.E. (Long Island Expressway). But is it really worth saving only 30 to 45 minutes?

Uber thinks so.

“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 said in a statement. Allison is the head of Uber Elevate, the company’s division dedicated to kick-off Uber’s attempt at introducing aerial ride-hailing, which began three years ago.

“In rush hour, an Uber Black car could cost up to $200 to J.F.K., so these helicopters are competitively priced,” Steve Wooster told The New York Times, the managing director for air operations at Virtuoso, a luxury travel network firm. “They’re likely to be popular with executives and super wealthy travelers.”

Uber Copter is only available to the company’s Platinum and Diamond members, the top utmost tiers of Uber’s loyalty program, Uber Rewards. The bookings can be completed on-demand or with up to five days advance.

Uber Copter contracted HeliFlite based out of Newark, New Jersey, who will operate the fleet of twin-engine helicopters that can seat up to five.

Those who book will be picked up by a car and driven directly to the heliport in Lower Manhattan, before boarding. After a 90-second safety video, the whirlybirds will takeoff and head on over to JFK airport and land at a heliport within the vicinity of Terminal 8 at JFK. Passengers will only be able to carry on personal bag and one carry-on, limited to no more than 40 pounds, due to weight constraints of the helicopters.

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