Uber's first helicopter rides set for New York

Andrew Cummings
June 9, 2019

Uber's autonomous flying cabs aren't prepared to take off yet, yet as per a report in the New York Times, it will offer air travel beginning July 9th. The average ride will cost between $200 and $250 per person depending on demand and will take about eight minutes.

Uber is adding regular helicopter air service to the heaviest users of its platform with Uber Copter - a new service line launched today that will provide on-demand transportation from Lower Manhattan to JFK airport for, on average, between $200 and $225 per person, which includes auto service to and from the helipad at each end. Passengers will plan and request flights using the Uber passenger app used for ground transportation. Uber Elevate head Eric Allison said in an emailed statement this is the "first real demonstration of the Elevate experience", as the company continues to develop its aerial transportation offerings. A one-way trip will take eight minutes; that same trip by vehicle would be about an hour without rush-hour traffic. The constraints mean Uber Copter would increase convenience for a small group of customers but it likely won't gain traction as a viable traffic congestion reduction mode, especially considering each Uber Copter only seats up to five people.

Since its inception in 2014, the New York-based helicopter booking platform Blade was nicknamed "The Uber of Helicopters" by the general press. Uber Copter will be available to customers from Monday through Friday during the afternoon rush hour. According to the documents, passengers are to be greeted with, "Hello, welcome to Uber Copter". "Our plan is to eventually roll out Uber Copter to more Uber customers and to other cities, but we want to do it right", Allison said told The New York Times. Each helicopter has room for up to five passengers.

However this isn't an option for travelers with large suitcases: Each rider will be limited to one personal bag and one carry-on, weighing no more than 40 pounds. But, for those seeking the quickest route from JFK airport to downtown Manhattan, Uber may soon be your best bet - via helicopter, that is. Flights-which run from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 2 p.m.to 7 p.m. on Sunday-cost $195 per person and include private auto service between the helicopter and terminal.

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