After previously being available only to Platinum and Diamond members, Uber has opened up its helicopter-based ride sharing service between lower Manhattan and JFK Airport to all users in New York City.
You now have a four-hour window, from 2 PM to 6 PM in which you can book an Uber Copter during the week, with a one-way ride costing from $200 to $225 per person, as reported by Bloomberg.
“The focus in the near term is to open this up to all riders, to demonstrate this vision of seamless connection between cars and helicopters,” stated Uber Elevate boss Eric Allison.
Users can schedule a helicopter ride with Uber as far as five days in advance and as with the company’s car rides, prices will fluctuate based on demand. For now, only two helicopters will be used for the trips.
This is a three-leg journey where initially you get picked up by an Uber car and taken to the Downtown Manhattan Heliport. If you’re trying to get to JFK, Uber has limited pickups to locations below Houston Street, which is by design so as to maximize customers’ time. After landing, an Uber driver can take you to any destination, even above Houston Street.
“If you live on the Upper West Side, taking a trip to lower Manhattan and then a flight to JFK might not make much sense,” said Uber GM of aviation Anil Nathan.
Uber Copter is now available for all riders, enabling people to seamlessly travel from Manhattan to JFK 🚁
The pilot is designed to generate learnings for a future all-electric Uber Air ride-sharing network. pic.twitter.com/oUtDSO67Zg
— Uber (@Uber) October 3, 2019
The flight takes about eight minutes, preceding a car ride from the helipad near Terminal 8 at JFK to your designated terminal.
These trips can be booked through a singular request within the app, instead of three separate ones – although users will receive a bill via e-mail for each leg of the journey.
As for the helicopter itself, it is a Bell 430 twin-engine model, operated by Newark-based HeliFlite. It has two pilots on every flight and six available leather passenger seats. Its Rolls-Royce 250-C40B turboshaft engines are capable of speeds of up to 161 mph (259 km/h).
This three-stage journey can take as little as 30 minutes, whereas the same trip by car from Manhattan to JFK can take an hour, possibly more.
In the end, Uber is using its Copter service as a test run for its ultimate goal, which is to create an aerial ride-sharing network of electric vehicles capable of vertical takeoff and landing.
“Uber Copter is kind of the first manifestation of this future vision,” added Allison. “Ultimately, we see Uber Copter transitioning into Uber Air. This is kind of the first iteration of that.”