When Blade Urban Air Mobility — stylized as BLADE, or simply Blade — launched in May 2014, the company was styled as the “Uber of helicopters.” The company helped facilitate private short-distance air transportation in the New York City area, primarily helicopter and small airplane flights to the Hamptons and area airports from convenient locations in midtown Manhattan.
The Uber metaphor was apt. Blade didn’t own the aircraft or operate the flights itself. It served as a broker to connect customers with third-party, licensed owner-operators, while setting the price and taking a commission.
Since its launch, Blade has expanded to Southern California and the San Francisco area.
For New York-area customers, the metaphor continues to apply — earlier this year, Blade launched a new service that’s akin to Uber Pool.
Blade Continuous is a shared flight — a helicopter pool — that runs every half-hour between New York’s West 30th Street heliport and the three area airports — JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark.
While chartering a helicopter flight through Blade can cost in the high hundreds to even thousands of dollars, Blade Continuous has a flat rate of $195 per person — in a background conversation with Business Insider, CEO Rob Wiesenthal described it as still being a premium product, but one that’s accessible to a much larger base of potential users.
For those who may not be interested in paying that much when heading to the airport — you can get to JFK from Manhattan for as little as a Metrocard swipe plus $5 — but still want to try it, there’s a promo code — “OFFER” — that brings the cost down to $120, or a little more than an Uber or Lyft during rush hour.
I’ve lived in New York City and the surrounding area for most of my life, and have always thought it would be fun to fly in one of the helicopters that criss-crosses the city. So, before a recent weekend trip to Portland, Oregon, I decided to splurge and give it a try.
To skip to the bottom line — it was the most fun I’ve ever had on a trip to the airport. We made it from midtown Manhattan to the airport in just nine minutes.
Read on to see what it’s like to ride a Blade helicopter — from booking to touch-down.