Delta has teamed up with Blade Helicopters to offer customers the option of a seamless connection from a scheduled Delta flight to a local helicopter transfer when arriving/departing at New York JFK.
Blade has operated out of JFK for a while but Delta just now officially started the cooperation with the service after trying different partners in the past.
The demand for helicopter transfers in New York has been there for a long time, but although many companies attempted to be successful in this segment, pretty much all of them failed to make their business model work out in the long term, at least as far as offering an affordable (low priced) shuttle service is concerned.
I wrote about Blade’s Helicopter service last November when they came out with their “Bounce” on demand service (see here), and since then the price for a shared ride actually went down from $295 per one way to $195, which is somewhat reasonable.
Delta Airlines published the news about the partnership with Blade in their newsroom (access here).
The fastest way to travel between Manhattan and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport just became even easier for Delta customers. Delta will enable a fully integrated, streamlined airport transfer experience through an exclusive partnership with BLADE, a digitally powered aviation company that arranges on-demand helicopter service between its Manhattan heliport lounges and JFK. …
Delta’s JFK customers can book an expedited, seamless experience that begins and ends at one of BLADE’s three Manhattan heliport lounges where they may relax in a full-service lounge prior to their five-minute flight. Upon touchdown, a member of Delta’s Elite Services team will welcome the customer, collect baggage and personally escort them from the helicopter via awaiting ground transportation to the departure terminal, expediting security clearance as they head to their departing aircraft. When it’s time for the Delta flight, the customer is escorted to their seat on board. Bookings are available via the BLADE app.
Delta customers arriving into JFK, including those on transcontinental service from Los Angeles and San Francisco and trans-Atlantic flights from London, can also enjoy a seamless helicopter transfer experience. Delta’s Elite Services will meet customers on the jet bridge as they disembark a Delta flight or immediately after they clear customs, reclaim baggage and whisk them directly to the door of a waiting helicopter for the five-minute flight to Manhattan.
Sounds all nice and well if flights are on time, connect in a reasonable time frame to the helicopter rides and the heli’s will actually fly, not getting cancelled which has always been a problem in the past. And then there is their price. What is the price?
Business Insider (see here) was able to sit down with the CEO of Blade Helicopters and figured out the rate.
The transfer through Delta costs $250 plus $1,000 for the private helicopter, which has six seats. It can be booked via the Blade app. It’s worth noting that a typical Blade airport ride to JFK (without the Delta Elite Services team, and with the typical TSA screening) starts at $195 a seat.
In other words, you pay a premium to have Delta babysit the entire transfer, and you may be protected in case of delays, cancellations and whatever else can go wrong during a trip.
Delta had other partnerships before (such as the one with US Helicopters) but this new cooperation is more geared towards offering a seamless travel experience if you book both products.
As said previously, I wouldn’t pay a premium of $200-220 compared to a limousine or taxi for a 45 minute time saving, but maybe someone with a higher price tag on his or her time would gladly do so.
I don’t get the impression that it’s actually worth it for the sake of saving time unless it’s really jammed on the roads to/from JFK, which can happen at times. It is, however, something special as an experience to enjoy the view of Manhattan while flying in/out and could be paired nicely with a leisure visit.