By Jordi Lippe for Yahoo! Travel
What if you could get to the airport in the time it takes to eat a bagel? (Photo: Gotham Air)
Whether you live in New York City or are just visiting, you easily have to add another couple of hours onto your travel time to get to or from the airport. Unlike other metropolitan areas that seem to get their transportation down to 30 minutes in and out of the city center, Manhattan has been struggling.
Enter Gotham Air. Starting February 9 this new luxury service plans to cut travel time from two hours to six minutes by offering helicopter flights to JFK and Newark Liberty Airports. “This changes everything about travel,” said Gotham Air CEO Tim Hayes.
“Our customers can go from sitting in a car to relaxing in one of our luxe choppers within minutes. We plan to bring a new level of luxury and convenience to people’s lives.”
Aside from the typical hair-pulling, teeth-grinding experience of getting to the airport, Hayes says the inspiration came from a meeting he had with Duff McKagan of Guns n’ Roses. Because, of course.
“I was in the studio with him and we just needed 30 more minutes of his time. He had a flight to catch, so I booked a helicopter so we could have that extra time,” Hayes said. “When I got the bill it was $2,000 and I investigated why.” After discovering that choppers just sit and wait for a celebrity or businessman to use, he decided to create a service where multiple trips are made instead of just one, cutting down the cost significantly.
“There are a lot of helicopters in New York servicing the high level corporate executives,” Hayes said. “We realized a way that we could have helicopters operating every hour in a way to help some of the 60 million people traveling in and out of these airports each year.”
First time users can now pay $99 per seat to JFK or Newark. But, after the first ride, a one-way fare is $199 – $219 depending on the time of day and airport. Though pricier than a subway, train or taxi, it’s still cheaper in comparison to the similar service Blade, which costs around $500 a seat. And you still get all of the first class amenities like complimentary hors d’oeuvres, afternoon beverage service, Hermes leather furnishings and a car to take you to and from your terminal. Not to mention the fact that the fleet includes 10 “state-of-the-art” Bell 407 six-seater helicopters from Helicopter Flight Service.
“Getting on to your plane shouldn’t be as difficult of an experience as it can be now,” Hayes said. “We think we can make your vacation start right away or if it’s a business trip, set you off in a good mood.”
Flights can be booked by logging onto GothamAir.com or downloading the free GothamAir app in early February 2015.