U.S. HELICOPTER & DELTA
Delta arranged for me to try out their new helicopter service to and from JFK. It's operated by U.S. Helicopter, which used to offer it for American Airlines (here's that funny story I wrote two years ago). U.S. Helicopter is also partnered with Continental for passengers going to/from Newark.
WALL STREET HELIPORT
As everyone knows, getting to JFK can be a complete nightmare – you just never know how good or bad traffic will be and though AirTrain is inexpensive, it's a chore to navigate while lugging baggage. Well, thanks to U.S. Helicopter, nothing could possibly be any easier. U.S. Helicopter flies out of two NYC Heliports: East 34th Street (TSS) and Wall Street (JRB). To get to the latter, I jumped on the 5 Train from Grand Central (I could also have taken the 4 Train) and got off at the Wall Street stop. I walked six blocks through the heart of the money capital until I reached the river and then walked two blocks to the heliport. I had two small bags so it was easy but taking a taxi would have been even easier.
NYC TO JFK VIA HELICOPTER
At the heliport I checked in for my Delta flight to Los Angeles. It took 20 seconds and checking a bag would've added another 10 seconds. I then cleared what has to be the commercial aviation world's most secret, stress-free security checkpoint. There was no one around in the small building except for the two girls who checked me in and the three TSA agents working the checkpoint. Here, they have all the same safety measures as at an airport: laptops out, shoes off, no liquids ... except that everyone was relaxed and there was no tension in the air.
THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN NYC
THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN NYC
EIGHT MINUTES TO JFK
After I'd put my shoes back on, I could have sat in one of the leather seats in the small but nice gate area. But I didn't even need to sit down because I arrived 15 minutes before departure so once I cleared security, the other passenger and I had a quick safety briefing and then were escorted out to the plush Sikorsky S-76 dual-engine helicopter, which holds eight passengers and two pilots. The co-pilot greeted us and gave us another quick safety check, then shut the door. What's interesting about helicopters is that the pilot is on the right-hand side, not on the left like in an airplane. Within seconds, we were off and treated to a spectacular view of the New York City skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge. Even though I'm afraid of heights I didn't have an ounce of fear. Not even sweaty hands. That's how big, stable and comfortable this thing is. We arrived at JFK eight minutes later. That's right – it took just eight minutes! A shuttle picked us up and drove us 300 yards to Delta's terminal building. That was it – I was done. No more security, no more checking in. Talk about a stress-free trip to the airport. And on top of that, my Delta upgrade went through.BTW: This helicopter service is not just for the super-rich. Prices begin at $159 each way, which is not much more than a premium car service. NOTE: US Helicopter does not operate on weekends, holidays or if there's low visibility. If the weather does get bad at the last minute, they will either refund your money or arrange a car service. To book your ticket, log on to either Delta.com or FlyUSHelicopter.com.
Here's a two-minute Johnny Jet video of my trip on the helicopter and I'm also linking to a video created by Delta's marketing guru, Brian Rutter. Plus, we also have all the Johnny Jet videos ever made on YouTube.