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I took a $120 Blade helicopter flight from midtown Manhattan to JFK Airport - here's what it was like

Before you can book a flight, you need to download the app and make an account.

Before you can book a flight, you need to download the app and make an account.
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Once your account is set up, go to the home screen and look for "Blade Airport" or "Continuous."

Once your account is set up, go to the home screen and look for "Blade Airport" or "Continuous."
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You can book a same-day flight, or book one for a future date. Same-day is usually fine, but keep in mind that some popular times might be taken. If a Continuous flight is full, you can still charter a ride, but it would cost much, much more.

You can book a same-day flight, or book one for a future date. Same-day is usually fine, but keep in mind that some popular times might be taken. If a Continuous flight is full, you can still charter a ride, but it would cost much, much more.
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Next, enter your flight information. Blade uses this at the end of your helicopter ride to coordinate cars to the airport terminals.

Next, enter your flight information. Blade uses this at the end of your helicopter ride to coordinate cars to the airport terminals.
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Of course there's an upsell ... feel free to skip.

Of course there's an upsell ... feel free to skip.
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Next, enter any promo codes you have. If it's your first ride, you can get $75 off with the code "OFFER" like I used.

Next, enter any promo codes you have. If it's your first ride, you can get $75 off with the code "OFFER" like I used.
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Before you check out, you have to accept the terms, including the baggage policy. This didn't seem strictly enforced on my flight (more on that in a bit), but Blade reserves the right to weigh luggage.

Before you check out, you have to accept the terms, including the baggage policy. This didn't seem strictly enforced on my flight (more on that in a bit), but Blade reserves the right to weigh luggage.
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And just like that, I was booked for a flight to my flight

And just like that, I was booked for a flight to my flight
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Unfortunately for me, Blade Continuous flies from the West 30th Street heliport, and my office is downtown. I could have taken a helicopter from a closer heliport, but I would have had to pay the full charter price.

Unfortunately for me, Blade Continuous flies from the West 30th Street heliport, and my office is downtown. I could have taken a helicopter from a closer heliport, but I would have had to pay the full charter price.
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I took the 7 train to the 34th Street–Hudson Yards stop and walked a few blocks from there.

I took the 7 train to the 34th Street–Hudson Yards stop and walked a few blocks from there.
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Blade has its own private entrance at the heliport.

Blade has its own private entrance at the heliport.
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When you walk in, there's a lounge where you can sit while waiting for your flights ...

When you walk in, there's a lounge where you can sit while waiting for your flights ...
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And a bar, where you check in and can order a drink ...

And a bar, where you check in and can order a drink ...
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... and get your "boarding pass" wristband.

... and get your "boarding pass" wristband.
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Although you can walk up to the heliport pretty much just before your flight leaves, if you end up getting there a bit early, the lounge is a pleasant place to relax while you finish some work ...

Although you can walk up to the heliport pretty much just before your flight leaves, if you end up getting there a bit early, the lounge is a pleasant place to relax while you finish some work ...
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... And watch the helicopters taking off and landing.

... And watch the helicopters taking off and landing.
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My flight was called, and as the five passengers (including me) lined up, an attendant took our luggage, while another took our drinks to carry them for us. I suspect this is to avoid the risk of someone dropping a cup and causing a debris hazard on the airfield.

My flight was called, and as the five passengers (including me) lined up, an attendant took our luggage, while another took our drinks to carry them for us. I suspect this is to avoid the risk of someone dropping a cup  and causing a debris hazard on the airfield.

There was a bit of confusion because one of the other passengers brought more luggage than was allowed. After a debate, the attendants seemed to decide it was safe enough, and allowed him to bring the bag. It's worth noting that that no one weighed our luggage to make sure they were below the weight limit. That could be that, based on the size of the bags and passengers, there was plenty of spare weight capacity. Regardless, I wouldn't suggest gambling that you'll be allowed to take a heavier bag.

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Two attendants walked ahead of us to our helicopter — a Bell 407, tail number N401TD — to load everything.

Two attendants walked ahead of us to our helicopter — a Bell 407, tail number N401TD — to load everything.
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As we boarded, the attendant told us where to sit — they distribute passengers based on self-reported weight to keep the aircraft balanced.

As we boarded, the attendant told us where to sit — they distribute passengers based on self-reported weight to keep the aircraft balanced.
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My seat was in front next to the pilot. The other four passengers were in the rear passenger section. Everyone had headsets, though, so I could hear and speak with the other passengers and the pilot.

My seat was in front next to the pilot. The other four passengers were in the rear passenger section. Everyone had headsets, though, so I could hear and speak with the other passengers and the pilot.
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Once we were all buckled in ...

Once we were all buckled in ...
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... we took off.

... we took off.
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4:27 p.m.: Liftoff.

4:27 p.m.: Liftoff.
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Still 4:27: I still appreciated the fact that I was sitting up front. It might have been disappointing if I was traveling as part of a group, but I was meeting my wife at the airport, so I was happy to hang out up front.

Still 4:27: I still appreciated the fact that I was sitting up front. It might have been disappointing if I was traveling as part of a group, but I was meeting my wife at the airport, so I was happy to hang out up front.
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Still 4:27: "I always forget how big Manhattan is."

Still 4:27: "I always forget how big Manhattan is."
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4:28: "The Empire State Building looks cool from here."

4:28: "The Empire State Building looks cool from here."
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Still 4:28: "So does One World Trade."

Still 4:28: "So does One World Trade."
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Still 4:28: We left Manhattan behind us, flying over the East River and the Staten Island Ferry.

Still 4:28: We left Manhattan behind us, flying over the East River and the Staten Island Ferry.
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4:29: We flew over Red Hook, Brooklyn, and got a nice glimpse of Ikea.

4:29: We flew over Red Hook, Brooklyn, and got a nice glimpse of Ikea.
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Still 4:29: I decided that, although I assumed the controls on my side were disabled, I was going to keep my feet as far away as possible from the anti-torque pedals.

Still 4:29: I decided that, although I assumed the controls on my side were disabled, I was going to keep my feet as far away as possible from the anti-torque pedals.
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4:30: We worked our way up and flew over the Park Slope/Prospect Heights area.

4:30: We worked our way up and flew over the Park Slope/Prospect Heights area.
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Still 4:30: We lined up over Eastern Parkway and flew down it for the length of Crown Heights. The traffic on the major thoroughfare below us was moving at a snail's pace.

Still 4:30: We lined up over Eastern Parkway and flew down it for the length of Crown Heights. The traffic on the major thoroughfare below us was moving at a snail's pace.
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4:32: We turned, and I could see Manhattan way out in the distance.

4:32: We turned, and I could see Manhattan way out in the distance.
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4:33: We got our first glimpse of JFK off in the distance. We approached it in a roundabout way to coordinate with air traffic control.

4:33: We got our first glimpse of JFK off in the distance. We approached it in a roundabout way to coordinate with air traffic control.
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4:34: We flew over American Airlines' hanger ...

4:34: We flew over American Airlines' hanger ...
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Still 4:34: ... And two planes that would be heading to Europe later that evening...

Still 4:34: ... And two planes that would be heading to Europe later that evening...
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4:35: We passed a small Delta jet taxiing toward the runway.

4:35: We passed a small Delta jet taxiing toward the runway.
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Still 4:35: We started to descend toward the General Aviation Terminal, where helicopters and private jets drop off and pick up their passengers.

Still 4:35: We started to descend toward the General Aviation Terminal, where helicopters and private jets drop off and pick up their passengers.
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4:36: Almost there ...

4:36: Almost there ...
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Still 4:36: And touchdown! Nine minutes after we left Manhattan, we were at JFK, a trip that usually takes about an hour by train — assuming you manage to make every connection quickly.

Still 4:36: And touchdown! Nine minutes after we left Manhattan, we were at JFK, a trip that usually takes about an hour by train — assuming you manage to make every connection quickly.
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We disembarked as attendants ran up to get our luggage...

We disembarked as attendants ran up to get our luggage...
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... And direct us to cars that would take us to our terminal. There were three cars, since our group was evidently taking three different airlines

... And direct us to cars that would take us to our terminal. There were three cars, since our group was evidently taking three different airlines
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I realized I hadn't finished my drink, but that wasn't a problem — the to-go cup works just as well in cars as in helicopters.

I realized I hadn't finished my drink, but that wasn't a problem — the to-go cup works just as well in cars as in helicopters.
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Four minutes after I left the helicopter, I was at the terminal for my flight. But no matter how you get to the airport, whether by car, bus, train, or helicopter, we all end up in the same place at the end ...

Four minutes after I left the helicopter, I was at the terminal for my flight. But no matter how you get to the airport, whether by car, bus, train, or helicopter, we all end up in the same place at the end ...
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... The airport security line. So all in all, was Blade worth it, and would I do it again?

... The airport security line. So all in all, was Blade worth it, and would I do it again?

There's no denying that this was the most fun I've ever had going to the airport. The usual spectrum for that trip is between "uneventful" and "miserable," so this simply didn't compare.

That said, despite the many valid complaints that can be leveled against New York City transit, there are a few easy ways to get to the airports, and all of them are cheaper than Blade in the case of JFK. I could have:

  • Taken a rideshare for about $80–90, given surge pricing.
  • A taxi for a peak-hours flat rate of about $57, plus tolls and tip.
  • The A train to the AirTrain for a Metrocard swipe plus $5.
  • Or the Long Island Rail Road to the AirTrain for a total of about $12.

On a Thursday afternoon, though, each of those would have taken me a minimum of an hour — very likely longer — and I would have had to budget plenty of extra time.

While that's what the vast majority of us do, Blade's Continuous service has a definite appeal for those with more disposable income who absolutely can't spare that extra time. Or, for anyone who wants to take advantage of the first-time discount to splurge on a fun nine-minute ride on their next trip to the airport.

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