Flying United? You Can Take a (Pricey) Helicopter Between Manhattan and Newark

Jun 12, 2018

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Getting to and from New York City airports can be painful, especially during rush hour. Taking a taxi can get pricey and public transit can be inconvenient.

Helicopter transfers have started to become more popular as a way to quickly travel to one of the city’s airports — flights sometimes take less than five minutes. On-demand helicopter flights like BLADE are becoming more popular, and Delta even partnered with the company last year to offer seamless transfers from Manhattan to your gate at JFK.

Now, United has started a new service offering helicopter flights between Manhattan and its hub at Newark International Airport (EWR). The airline has been running an ad campaign in the city touting the ease of accessibility to Newark via cab or train with slogans like “FASTEWR” and “CLOSEWR” — now United is making access even faster, for those who can afford it.

The service started in mid-May, a United spokesman told TPG. Flights are operated by HeliFlite and passengers can choose from three Manhattan helipads to arrive or depart from (East 34th, West 30th and Wall Street). Once your helicopter lands at Newark, you’ll be driven from Signature, a company operating a private terminal, to wherever your United flight is departing from, either Terminal B or C. If you’re flying into Newark, you can use the service to get into the New York too.

Heliflite’s fleet includes 10 AgustaWestland AW139s, four Bell 430s, four Sikorsky S-76s, and a Bell 429, all relatively large, twin-engine helicopters.

A Bell 429 operated by Heliflite. Image courtesy of Heliflite.

Prices aren’t cheap — you’ll have to shell out $2,099 for one to three travelers and $2,199 for four to six people. (Those figures are for the whole helicopter, not per person.) Helicopter transfers are bookable through United Signature Service which provides VIP travel services, like personal shoppers and airport concierges. If you do book a helicopter you’ll receive other benefits from United like assistance from a personal concierge, club access, and priority check-in.

Unfortunately, these steep prices won’t help on your quest for United elite status. No Premier Qualifying Miles (PQMs), Premier Qualifying Segments (PQSs) or Premier Qualifying Dollars (PQDs) will be earned if you arrange a chopper through United.

And if you’re concerned about baggage, Heliflite’s aircraft should be able to accommodate most traveler’s luggage. A United spokesman told us that the Bell 430 has a max cargo weight of 500lbs and the Sikorsky 76B can hold up to 600lbs. If you go over that limit, Signature Service will make separate arrangements for transportation of excess baggage to Newark.

BLADE offers helicopter transfers to Newark and you can book an entire six-person chopper from as little as $1,325 for a one-way flight from Manhattan to Newark — although that price doesn’t include the $250 car transfer to the United terminal. Individual seats on scheduled Blade flights can be booked from $195 one-way.

Driving from Midtown Manhattan to Newark takes about 40 minutes during off peak hours — rush hour traffic can add 20 to 30 minutes more. Train travel runs an hour or more, depending on where you’re leaving from in the city.

United’s been focusing on improving its premium services over the last two years, since rolling out its Polaris Business class experience. The airline opened its third Polaris lounge in Newark last week and has been incrementally retrofitting its long-haul aircraft with the new Polaris seats.

Featured image of a Leonardo AW139 courtesy of Heliflite. 

The article was updated to include mentions of United elite status, travel times to Newark and helicopter baggage limits.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.