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How Uber Copter Works For Riders [Cost, How to Book & More]

Key Takeaways

  • Uber Helicopter is a premium service by Uber, offering helicopter rides mainly to and from JFK Airport in New York City.
  • Availability is limited to New York, specifically Lower Manhattan and JFK, and operational Monday to Friday from 2-6 PM EST.
  • Booking a ride is similar to regular Uber rides, bookable on-demand or up to five days in advance, directly through the Uber app.
  • Costs average $200-$225 per ride, fluctuating based on demand, more expensive than traditional Uber services.

What Is Uber Helicopter?

Uber Helicopter is a premium transportation service to and from JFK International Airport that Uber offers in some parts of New York City.

While only available in New York at the moment, it’s part of Uber’s goal of transforming urban aviation. Uber’s helicopter service is available to all Uber users.

While you can get a copter ride to John F. Kennedy Airport with other companies, like BLADE, Uber offers the same convenience Uber users enjoy when ordering regular Uber rides.

How Uber Helicopter Works

One of the best things about Uber is that it always focuses on making the booking experience quick and straightforward. Luckily, Uber Helicopter is no exception to this rule, as it’s fairly similar to the established process of using Uber.

To book an Uber helicopter, you need to open the Uber app, tap the helicopter option, and specify pickup/dropoff points. However, the option will only be visible in areas where helicopter trips are available.

screenshot of the Uber helicopter booking screen
Image: Uber

As of early 2024, Uber Helicopter services are restricted to New York City, particularly JFK Airport and Lower Manhattan. Each of the locations can be your pickup while the other would be your dropoff.

Unlike regular services, Uber only uses a specific model of helicopters for the Copter service, the Bell 430 twin-engine.

All pilots flying Uber Copters must have Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification and have at least 1,000 hours of experience flying helicopters to ensure passenger safety.

The rideshare giant also had multiple short-term partnerships with other companies, such as Airbus and Blade.

The Experience of Flying on an Uber Helicopter

Since Uber Helicopter has limited routes, the experience of flying on one is somewhat standardized.

One of the main distinctions between Uber Helicopter and other Uber services is that it has an availability schedule. You can only use it on Mondays to Fridays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

You can schedule Uber Helicopters up to five days ahead. While the pickup is limited, the service also includes a regular UberX to take you to the helipad.

Most Uber Helicopter flights take around eight minutes. Each flight carries two pilots and up to six passengers. The view of the city from the helicopter is also a major extra advantage that Uber Helicopter offers.

Brett’s Take: Thoughts From an Expert

One thing to consider while flying with Uber Copter is the strict baggage allowances – one personal item and one piece of luggage.

The aircraft is small, and as a result, the pilots have to ensure that they stay within certain thresholds when it comes to weight.

This can limit the practicality of the service, as it is an interesting service that many people consider taking while traveling to New York City.

How Long Does an Uber Helicopter Trip Take?

An Uber Copter trip from start to finish, including the helicopter ride and ground transportation, typically takes between 30 to 50 minutes. The helicopter flight itself lasts about eight minutes.

The journey comprises four main parts: pickup by an UberX car to the helipad, a short wait in the departure lounge, the helicopter flight, and an UberX ride from the helipad to your final destination.

  • Pickup times vary based on traffic and pickup location, potentially adding 20-30 minutes or more.
  • Waiting for the helicopter is usually brief due to coordinated scheduling.
  • The final UberX ride to the terminal or hotel after landing is also quick.

Comparatively, during peak hours, Uber Copter can be faster than driving through New York City’s traffic, which can take over two hours from Manhattan to the airport.

How Much Does Uber Helicopter Cost?

An Uber Helicopter ride costs between $200 and $225, with the price including transportation to and from the helipad. This pricing is dynamic and subject to demand surges, potentially causing fluctuations.

Compared to other Uber services, such as UberX at around $70, Uber Black at approximately $120, and Uber Black SUV at about $175, the Uber Helicopter is notably more expensive.

This service seems to target a niche market of users who prioritize time over cost. I think it will do particularly well among executives and other people whose time is money.

The cost is per person, and unlike car rides, it cannot be split with other passengers. The helicopter can carry up to 6 passengers, and the primary factor influencing price is demand rather than distance.

How to Request an Uber Helicopter

The process for requesting an Uber Copter ride isn’t much different from requesting a regular ride.

  • Open the Uber app.
  • Enter your destination, which should be JFK or an address in Lower Manhattan (if coming from JFK).
  • Select Uber Copter from the ride options at the bottom of the screen. Swipe up if you don’t see it. It will appear if you’re in the designated area.
  • Click on “Request Copter or Schedule.”
  • Select the number of seats on the next screen.
  • On the next screen, choose “Depart Now” if you’d like to go right away. Otherwise, schedule it in advance by selecting “Depart At” or “Arrive By.”
  • Tap on “Next,” then confirm your ride request on the next page.
  • Read the terms and conditions. Click on “Agree and Request.”

Is Uber Copter Safe?

Yes, Uber Copter is safe. Not only has the FAA and DOT licensed HeliFlite, but the platform has also earned ARGUS Platinum and Wyvern Wingman safety ratings.

It has robust safety measures in place to ensure your security, and its pilots receive extensive training. Remember, the helicopter flight only takes a few minutes, and the pilots make the trip multiple times a day.

Incorporating User Experiences

Although Uber Helicopter has been around for several years, the flying experience hasn’t changed much over the years.

Additionally, most users noted that Uber Copter feels pretty much the same as any other helicopter ride.

You don’t get any extra space or complimentary drinks like in private jets. After all, the trips don’t last long so comfort is rarely an issue.

According to many users, the main aspect that requires improvements is the limited availability of service. Uber needs to expand into new areas to compete with helicopter trip providers like Blade.

You should also note here that Blade doesn’t only offer its services in more areas, but some flights are also cheaper than Uber’s.

One user also pointed out that while Uber helicopters are much quicker than traditional transport methods, they’re not a great value for money unless you’re an executive who’s extremely short on time.

Why Uber Offers Helicopter Services

Uber introduced its first helicopter service under the name of Uber Copter in 2019. However since this one is a completely new market, many people are still confused about the purpose of this expansion.

In fact, Uber tapped into the aircraft rideshare market for various reasons and factors. Here’s a quick look at them.

1. Meeting the Market’s Demand for Speed and Convenience

The primary aim of aerial expansion is to provide a faster and more convenient transportation option, especially in congested cities.

Skipping traffic by flying over it can significantly reduce travel time. This can be especially beneficial in time-sensitive journeys, such as catching a flight and attending an important business meeting.

2. Expanding its Offerings and Ensuring Its Brand Authority

A lot of companies expand their range of services just to establish their brand authority. As a pioneer of ridesharing apps, Uber would want to maintain its authority by being one of the first providers to tap into the air market as well.

This also goes in line with Uber’s quest to offer diversified transit solutions for a wide range of needs and preferences.

Additionally, it allows Uber to compete in new markets where some other companies dominate, such as Blade helicopter

3. Overcoming the Challenges of Urban Mobility

One of the biggest challenges of urban mobility is the ever-growing strain on existing transportation infrastructure.

Unfortunately, massive infrastructure projects like road and highway expansions are extremely costly and time-consuming.

However, using helicopters for transportation offers a radical workaround to alleviate the pressure on the transport network.

4. High Profit Potential

Currently, helicopter trips aren’t a major profit driver for Uber. Yet, the service represents a huge potential for a new revenue stream for the company.

In fact, as the technology and infrastructure for urban air mobility advance, both demand and supply can improve. In that case, Uber Copter could become a more significant source of income.

5. Catering to a New Target Demographic

Despite environmental concerns and remarkably high fares, some individuals can still afford these kinds of trips.

Simply put, helicopter travel inherently carries a premium image, and Uber Helicopter capitalizes on this perception.

Uber’s Future in Air Mobility

All in all, Uber Helicopter is a promising service with a huge potential for expansion in the future, especially if flights become more accessible and cheaper.

For example, modern technologies like eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft can advance Uber’s air mobility services significantly.

This is because advancements in this field would allow Uber to use electric helicopters for its services. These electric choppers are not only quieter and more accessible but also better for the environment.

For now, the concept of soaring through the skies in an electric flying taxi is still far from reality, but not impossible, and Uber’s interest in air mobility can completely revolutionize transportation.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much is the Average Uber Helicopter Ride?

Uber outsources its Uber Copter service to HeliFlite, so it doesn’t directly hire pilots. Although you can’t become a contracted pilot directly with Uber, you might have the opportunity to pilot Uber Copter flights if you work for HeliFlite.

Is There a Private Jet Uber Service?

As of the time of writing this article, Uber has yet to announce any plans to expand into private jets. However, Uber is known for its fast-paced expansions so including a private jet service in the future is highly possible.

That being said, there are already some platforms that offer Uber-like services for private jets. These include KinectAir and UberJets (unrelated to Uber Technologies, Inc).

Wrapping Up

Uber Helicopter doesn’t only offer a surprisingly reliable method to soar above traffic jams and gridlock but also provides a unique glimpse into the future of urban transportation.

While the service is still underdeveloped and has a long road ahead, it’s still a remarkable leap into the untapped potential of aerial ridesharing.

For that reason, if you value your time and don’t mind spending more to escape the congested traffic, Uber Helicopter would be a good option to consider.

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