Uber to Launch On-Demand Helicopter Service in New York
There's UberX, UberPool, UberXL, UberBlack and now Uber Copter. Uber Copter is Uber's newest ride-hailing service, this time allowing users to book on-demand helicopter rides. Uber Copter will begin flights in New York City on July 9 to take passengers from Lower Manhattan to John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in just eight minutes.
Uber Copter will only be available to those with Platinum and Diamond status of the Uber Rewards loyalty program. Platinum members must have earned at least 2,500 points in a six-month period ($1,250 in UberX rides) and Diamond members at least 7,500 points in a six-month period ($3,750 in UberX rides). As daunting as this sounds, the Uber Rewards loyalty program also allows points earning on UberPool, UberXL and other car varieties as well as UberEats.
Customers can book the helicopter service directly through the app on-demand or up to five days prior. Uber Copter limits the ride to five people and will operate Monday through Friday during the afternoon rush hour. Before ordering, know that the helicopter ride only allows one personal bag and one carry-on with a 40-pound weight limit.
The average Uber Copter ride will cost between $200 and $225 per person, Nikhil Goel, Uber Elevate’s head of product, told the New York Times. Like regular Uber rides, the Uber Copter trips will also be subject to dynamic pricing, commonly referred to as "surge" pricing.
The service provides a car to take passengers to a heliport near the Staten Island Ferry Station in Downtown Manhattan to depart for JFK, where they will land near Terminal 8, and then another car will take them to their departure terminal. Uber predicts that the total time of transportation should be as little as 30 minutes (that's only if you're starting point is nearby the heliport).
This is the first real demonstration of Uber Elevate, which is the name for company's flying car division, according a statement sent to TPG by Eric Allison, head of Uber Elevate.
Uber Copter will rival BLADE's new Continuous service, which also offers helicopter services for $195 one way between Manhattan and JFK on weekdays from 7am to 7pm and Sundays from 2pm to 7pm. BLADE Continuous has also recently expanded service to New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport and LaGuardia Airport in Queens. BLADE does not provide car service to the heliport as part of the $195 price tag, but you do get shuttled from the helipad at JFK to your terminal.
Similar to BLADE and Uber's own asset-light model, Uber will not operate the helicopters themselves but contract with Heliflite, which also operates flights to Newark Liberty International Airport on behalf of United.
The Uber Rewards loyalty program counts the last sixth months of activity toward elite status as soon as you sign up, so you could be closer to an elite status than you may think. Next time you order an Uber, make sure to check how close you are to the next tier to possibly ride the Uber Copter soon.