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Blade, the Uber of helicopters, will get you around Pope traffic in Manhattan for $95

Blade, the Uber of helicopters, will get you around Pope traffic in Manhattan for $95

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Three miles.

That's how far it is via surface streets between the heliports on the east and west sides of Manhattan, a long, narrow island best known as the nexus of New York City.

Emphasis on "narrow." Hold up your index finger. That, roughly, is the shape of Manhattan. Not in a million years did I think that there would be a market for a helicopter service to ferry people from one side to the other, but here we are: Blade, which is like an Uber for helicopters and small aircraft, is letting you get around hellish Pope-related traffic and street shutdowns in Manhattan with trips between its E. 34th Street and W. 30th Street bases for $95.

blade screens

This sounds ridiculous, but the numbers are dangerously close to working out. On a good weekday, navigating Manhattan eastward and westward is an exercise in madness, and that's when most streets are open. Tomorrow, Pope Francis' visit will bring huge sections of the city to a standstill with road closures and expected record-breaking crowds. A trip from one side of Manhattan to the other in a cab in the middle of the day today might end up costing $30 or more and suck up an hour of your time; Blade's chopper takes five to eight minutes. If you want to assign a Wall Street banker-like figure to the value of your time and you absolutely must get from 1st Avenue to 11th, you might be able to somehow justify this insanity.

Here's Blade's full email to its users:

Due to popular demand by our users, on Friday, September 25th, BLADE will be offering flights between the West Side and the East Side of Manhattan during morning and evening rush hour time periods—when traffic will be most impacted by the concurrent visits of the Pope, POTUS, and UN delegates.

Flights will depart from and arrive at the BLADE Lounge at the West Side Heliport (30th Street, West Side Highway) and the BLADE Lounge at the East Side Heliport (East 34th Street, FDR Drive) for the morning rush hour period between the hours of 7:45 AM and 10:00 AM and then again for the evening rush hour period between 5:00PM and 7:00PM.

Flights will be operated by Liberty Helicopters and Zip Aviation and trip duration will be between 5 and 8 minutes. The flights are priced at $95 per seat and can be purchased on the BLADE app.

Given the sensitivity regarding transportation in the New York area during the next two days, the following restrictions will apply:

  • TSA will be on site at each heliport for passenger screening prior to boarding
  • No baggage will be allowed beyond purses and briefcases
  • No alcohol will be permitted in the BLADE Lounges or in flight
  • Since both heliports are located on the waterfront, all flights will be routed around the southern tip of Manhattan. No flights will be permitted to fly over the city.

We look forward to seeing you Friday and helping you beat the impending gridlock.


I think I'll just stay home.