From Heliport to Airport: A Seamless Trip to JFK


As the crow flies, John F. Kennedy International Airport is only 13 miles from Midtown Manhattan, but those 13 miles can feel like an eternity when driving in New York City traffic. Taking a helicopter to the airport has been the transportation mode of choice for busy executives for years, but Blade Urban Air Mobility has revolutionized — and to some extent democratized — this option by offering a cost-effective solution. The company has created an app to help travelers arrange a flight to the airport with ease. As Blade advertises, “Five minutes in the air and you are there.”

While the company is best known for offering helicopter and seaplane trips to the Hamptons (and now Nantucket), Blade Airport launched its “by-the-seat” service in 2019, offering space on scheduled helicopter trips between Manhattan and New York-area airports (JFK, LaGuardia and Newark) for $195 per person. On our most recent trip to New York City, we decided to skip the car service — and the stress — and experience Blade for ourselves.

After downloading the app, I entered my credit card information and booked the helicopter flight I needed. Passengers are limited to one 25-pound carry-on, so I had to keep weight limits in mind when packing and again while shopping in the city. (For those going to the Hamptons with larger luggage or, say, golf clubs, Blade can arrange a Tote Taxi upgrade upon checkout and deliver your excess bags separately; however, that service is not available for the airport flights, so pack wisely.)

Typically, the last day of a vacation is marred by the approaching anxiety that comes with the trip to the airport. But we had none of that. We spent our time sightseeing at Hudson Yards, having Champagne at the Edge sky deck and strolling along the High Line. We then walked across the West Side Highway to the Blade Lounge off West 30th. (Note that there are three other heliports with lounges in Manhattan: East 23rd Street, East 34th Street and Wall Street at the Pier 6 East River Helipad.) They weighed our bags, then offered us a cocktail as we waited in the colorful modern lounge for our flight, watching helicopters land and take off just feet from the windows.

When it was our turn, we boarded with three other passengers and a pilot, donned headsets, strapped ourselves in and lifted off almost immediately. Before we knew it, we were flying over the Hudson River and rounding the tip of Manhattan on a gloriously clear fall day. The views were stunning. Within five minutes, we touched down at JFK and were escorted into separate black SUVs. Never before have I wished for a longer commute — and never before has one been so glamorous. It was an exhilarating experience.

Besides short scheduled flights, Blade has expanded to offer seasonal jet service between Westchester, New York, and Miami/Palm Beach, as well as chartered jet service — both private or crowdsourced — anywhere in the world.

By Andrew Harper Editor Andrew Harper editors travel the world anonymously to give you the unvarnished truth about luxury hotels. Hotels have no idea who the editors are, so they are treated exactly as you might be.

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