Starting July 9th, Uber will offer helicopter rides between JFK airport and Lower Manhattan that can be booked on demand through its app. Uber Copter, The New York Times reports, will offer eight minute flights between the city and its major airport, with prices typically costing between $200 and $225. Flights can be booked up to five days in advance.
Uber Copter’s launch comes almost three years after Uber launched its flying car project called Uber Elevate, which was an ambitious plan to offer flights using a network of lightweight, electric aircraft. Since then the company has continued to offer one-off marketing stunts where it gives people helicopter tours of big events like CES, but nothing that will actually get you from point A to point B.
Including the time it takes an Uber car to transport customers to the helipad in Manhattan, Uber hopes that Uber Copter will bring total transport times between NYC and JFK down to as little as half an hour. That compares with the one hour it typically takes the drive the route, which can take up to two hours or longer in the city’s bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic. The Long Island Railroad, meanwhile, typically takes between 50 and 75 minutes to make the journey.
Not just anyone will be able to order an Uber Copter. You’ll need to be a Platinum of Diamond member of Uber Rewards, the airlines-style rewards program the company launched last year. You’ll also have to be wary of the amount of luggage you’re carrying. There’ll be space for five riders in every helicopter ride, but passengers 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.
One of Uber’s key competitors for its new service is Blade, a service unrelated to Uber which nevertheless bills itself as an “Uber for helicopters.” Blade offers a similar route to Uber Copter, with prices starting at just $195, but recently made headlines after one of its helicopters crashed in the Hudson River. No passengers were on board at the time, and the pilot was unharmed.