As most NYC-based travelers are aware, the most agonizing leg of any long journey is often the one that takes you to John F. Kennedy International Airport from your home or office.
In fact, almost every New Yorker can recount a moment in their life in which they came to fully believe that they would die of old age sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the Van Wyck Expressway. That temporal anguish is only deepened when the travel is for work and one can smell the money burning as the time ticks away.
But there is another way.
As we learned last week, it is possible to get from Hudson Yards to the JFK tarmac in about 7 minutes. And thanks to the folks over at BLADE, we can attest to have experienced it in real life.
We rolled up to what seems like an ersatz trailer park erected on a narrow strip wedged between the West Side Highway and the Hudson River. After being buzzed through the door of a trailer painted matte black, we entered a luxurious lounge replete with comfortable chairs, flat-screens showing famous helicopters throughout history and a bar replete with a blonde model attired in a 70s-esque stewardess uniform serving drinks. As befitting a high-end NYC startup aimed at HENRYs ("high-earners not rich yet"), the whole scene is curated down to every detail (the liquor is complimentary, top-shelf and served in a bespoke plastic travel mug made to look like a wine glass, and your server's throwback uniform was designed Cynthia Rowley with custom Sarah Jessica Parker shoes). It makes one feel like the money being shelled out is worth every penny.
And perhaps it is. As mentioned before, the time savings compared to a black car or Uber that can run up to the $150-$200 range almost justify BLADE's one-way fare of $295. Once inside the actual helicopter, a snug yet comfortable leather seating area that fits 6 travelers (your drink returned to you by your stewardess/bartender who remains behind), the 5:15 departure time is achieved and you are up, up in the air above Midtown West and staring down at all the suckers sitting in West Side highway traffic. The cost-benefit analysis seems to melt away.
Our journey down the West Side of Manhattan was characterized by a lovely winter sunset and abnormally strong winds. We are notoriously frightened flyers so the initial sensation of bumping up and down was harrowing, but even we were calmed within moments by the breathtaking views and the skilled piloting that took us down below the south tip of Governor's Island and out across Brooklyn.
Landing on the runway at JFK feels borderline indulgent, and being ushered into a private holding area where your bags meet you almost immediately gives the sensation of time-travel. It's been 10 minutes since you stood on the West Side of midtown Manhattan, yet here you are at JFK. For any real New Yorker, the whole affair is surreal...and awesome.
Now, BLADE is not an advertiser (yet) but they are giving us two free seats as part of a Dealbreaker contest we will unveil in the next few weeks. So stay tuned for that.
Until then, check out BLADE's website (they also do flights to LaGuardia, Newark, The Hamptons and have a semi-private plane situation for Miami getaways)