To Escape Pope Traffic, Blade Offers $95 Helicopter Rides

Blade helicopter
A handout showing an image of a "Blade" private helicopter.Blade

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By Robert Frank

It's the ultimate ascension, in a way.

For New Yorkers looking to avoid the horrible traffic expected Friday by visits from Pope Francis, President Barack Obama and the United Nations General Assembly, Blade Helicopters has come up with a solution. The on-demand chopper company will be offering a new "crosstown service" allowing passengers to zip from the East Side and West Side of Manhattan for $95 per seat each way. The trip, which uses a six-seat chopper and curves around Lower Manhattan, takes around seven to eight minutes.

Helicopters will shuttle between the 30th Street heliport near the West Side Highway to the 34th Street heliport on the East Side off the FDR Drive. Flights will take off or land every 15 minutes.

A spokesman for Blade said the company–which has become the Uber of helicopters with its app-based service to the Hamptons and other locales–said the idea for the crosstown service came from customers. The price of a seat to the Hamptons is about $500, a much further distance than across Manhattan.

"We were getting a lot of calls from customers who were just really frightened about the traffic tomorrow," Evan Licht said Thursday. "Luckily we were able to put this through and get it all cleared to help out passengers. "

Customers who want the service can go to Blade's app and select the "Bounce X" section. Licht also said demand is likely to be strong for the company's existing "Bounce" service to the New York airports, which costs $895 to charter an entire helicopter for six passengers.

"A lot of people in New York just want to get out of Dodge tomorrow," he said.