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Private jet service has been becoming increasingly more accessible, thanks to Uber-like jet-sharing services that dramatically reduce the cost of flying on a private jet versus chartering your own. The newest is BLADEone, which is the first jet service from BLADE, which has provided helicopter service from NYC to the Hamptons and other local vacation spots. Its inaugural flight from New York to Miami was the day before mine (December 3), and its lounges are brand new.
I was excited to try this product from the get-go because I had read about BLADE’s phenomenal service and other amenities – including a helicopter ride from Midtown Manhattan to the Westchester Airport to catch the jet. I wanted to see if a private service like BLADEone could really bring the joy and romance back to traveling – and overall, I was extremely impressed.
One-way tickets for BLADEone flights by BLADE between New York and Miami average around $2,200, which is ~4x the cost of flying first class if you book in advance, or 2x if you’re booking last minute or during peak periods, like NYC to Miami for Art Basel. The experience I had on board with BLADEone from start to finish – from when I arrived at the helipad in Manhattan to when I deplaned in Miami – was a truly luxury experience that’s hard to get when you’re flying commercial.
I purchased my cash ticket for a total of $2,274.94 to fly on board BLADEone’s Gulfstream IV-SP. BLADEone operates its flights with JFI Jets, which is an ARGUS Platinum rated operator – so you know you’re in good hands. As for the price, it may seem steep, but it’s not totally out of reach — especially if you use points.
When I was looking for flights to fly to Art Basel, there was little available commercially, and what was available was averaging more than $1,200 and only left at crazy times – no thank you. By spending every day on a card like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard, a “free” flight on BLADEone from New York to Miami is completely doable. Essentially $110,000 in spend on one of these cards will get you a free BLADEone flight. I know too many people who have so many miles they don’t know what to do with them all, so for that reason it might make sense to get one of these cards to be able to splurge on something like this every once in a while. It’s nice to be able to treat yourself – especially in the form of a private jet.
1. No lines/No TSA
One of the nicest things about flying BLADEone is the convenience and simplicity of everything from start to finish. When you want to book a flight with BLADEone, the process is simple. BLADEone is a product of the larger service, BLADE, so you can log on to the BLADE app and select a flight. But one of the nicer features of the carrier is that if you don’t see the specific flight you want at a certain time, you can create your own route and date and BLADE will use crowdsourcing technology to fill the rest of the plane. You’re allowed one small carry-on bag per person (25 lbs max). Anything larger than that is $50 per every 25 lbs.
When the day of my trip came, I arrived at the 34th Street BLADE lounge in Manhattan to nothing but smiling faces from BLADE staff – which only continued throughout the day. I’m so used to going to the airport and seeing masses of people waiting in line for tickets and security, but flying BLADEone, there was none of that. This made the experience even better because one of the worst parts of flying is always the wait when getting to the airport. If only it were this simple every time I flew.
2. No crabby employees
The service onboard BLADEone, and even before I got on the plane itself, was impeccable. I can’t remember the last time I had service that was so well attuned with passengers’ needs (with the exception of my Residence trip with my fantastic butler Eren). From the moment I walked into the lounge in Manhattan until I deplaned in Miami, I can only remember encountering employees who had smiles on their faces and who were doing everything in their power to make this a memorable and enjoyable trip.
At the 34th Street lounge in Manhattan (there are three – East 34th Street, West 30th Street and East 23rd Street), the bar was well staffed and the options were phenomenal. I was impressed with the design of the lounge and how modern it was. That, coupled with the above-and-beyond nature of the staff made the trip great. On board the plane, there were two attendants who were both knowledgable and a pleasure to chat with. Also, the ability to take your drink from the bar onto the helicopter (more on that later) in one of BLADEone’s to-go cups was an added bonus. The fluidity of the whole trip was great. It was nice to be able to go on one carrier for the duration of the trip – there was no walking through terminals to different gates, as everything was right there and exclusive to BLADE.
3. Amazing food and beverage service
I love little more than great food and champagne when flying – and BLADEone was able to leave me satisfied in that regard. All of the carrier’s cuisine was created by Executive Chef Todd English. I had a delicious caviar service, king crab with mustard miso vinaigrette, tuna poke with soy sesame and avocado, ricotta toast with burrito, heirloom cherry tomatoes and truffle honey and a roasted miso glazed black seabass with kobacha squash and edamame salad for the main course. For dessert, I had a delicious key lime parfait with a butter graham crumble. The food definitely didn’t disappoint.
The in-flight beverage service was also a highlight of the trip. Passengers were offered 2005 Dom Perignon – one of my favorites – so I was completely satisfied with both the food and beverage service. There was also a snack tray on board that you could help yourself to – the regulars, such as Pringles, potato chips and granola bars – but it was still a nice touch to be able to get up and grab a snack at any point during the flight.
4. Networking in the amazingly comfortable cabin
I absolutely love the atmosphere on BLADEone. The Gulfstream IV jet is so modern and comfortable I almost didn’t want to get off when we got to Miami. Unlike other carriers like it, there are no benches in the cabin of BLADEone’s aircraft. Instead, each person has one of 12 ultra-comfortable and sleek seats. There was enough room for the 12 of us and two attendants to move about comfortably – even with my 6’7″ frame. Each passenger got an iPad Pro to use for the trip, as well as an amenity kit that contained the basics – moisturizers, lip balm, headphones, dental kit and more – all in a Jack Spade case.
The 11 other people whom I shared the flight with were all great. According to BLADE’s website, all passengers undergo substantial background checks and a BLADE Ops Team reviews publicly available social media accounts of passengers to make sure each flight has an appropriately curated passenger list. And on my flight, that showed. All of the people on board were like-minded individuals, many with common interests. One of my favorite parts about flying BLADEone was that passengers are encouraged to move about the cabin when safe and network with others. This is something that definitely sets BLADE apart from commercial carriers.
5. Huge time saver
It’s hard to compete with BLADEone when it comes to saving time. According to BLADE’s website, you’ll save an average of six hours per roundtrip as compared to commercial travel to or from the New York area – that’s enough for me to consider flying BLADEone any time, especially when under a time crunch. You can arrive at BLADE’s lounge 10 minutes before the helicopter leaves for Westchester, fly a quick 15-minute helicopter ride to Westchester’s airport, walk a few feet from the doors of the helicopter to the plane and you depart shortly thereafter. It really can’t get any simpler.
As you can probably tell, you’ll save the most time with the helicopter service, which comes included with all BLADEone trips. For New York service, all BLADEone trips depart from or land at Westchester County Airport. All BLADE flights to or from Miami land or take off from Opa Locka Airport, which has a brand new BLADE lounge with a full bar, work and dining areas and on-site shower facilities.
To say I’m impressed with BLADE’s BLADEone product might be a bit of an understatement. This experience was one I’ll definitely consider taking again in the future with its superior customer service, options to fly whenever you want and spacious and modern aircraft. And although it was twice as expensive as the price I would have incurred if I had flown commercially, the experience was 10 times as enjoyable (at least!).
If you’re interested in trying the BLADEone experience yourself, click here and enter the referral code THEPOINTSGUY (case sensitive). You’ll earn a $100 discount on your first flight, and TPG will receive $50 after you travel.
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