Would you pay $625 for four hours of your time? That’s the idea behind Blade, a helicopter service that aims to reduce travel time from busy cities to nearby vacation destinations. Think “flying car service.”
Blade began last summer transporting New York City beach bums to the ritzy shores of the Hamptons out on Long Island and just recently expanded service to Mohegan Sun, a casino about three hours drive from midtown Manhattan...on a good day.
“We’re allowing people to interact with their weekend differently,” Blade General Manager Evan Licht told Yahoo Finance. “Now you can work later...you can be done at 6:00p and be at your house at 7:00p”
Blade doesn’t own or operate the actual helicopters, they are a high tech middle man. Users download the companies app and search for a flight that matches their schedule. Three clicks later your spot is reserved. A seat to East Hampton will run $575, to Montauk $625.
Nothing fits your schedule? Create your own trip and allow others to join it. As long as other users fill up the remainder of the aircraft you still pay for the one seat.
Even at that price point It may seem geared to the wealthy. While it’s not cheap it has found favor with many New Yorkers.
Licht told us in the services first weekend, Memorial Day of last year, they flew about 20 trips out to the Hamptons. By July 4th, with nothing but word of mouth and a strong social media presence they flew 100 trips out east.
But not everybody is happy about services like Blade. Hampton’s residents have been fighting persistent noise as helicopters (Blade’s, personal choppers and any number of other services) and private planes have crowded the skies above the tony vacation locales.
Blade’s new Mohegan Sun route may be a little less controversial and represents the first step in the company’s expansion. “It’s the first time really that people can again work late on Friday, take a helicopter up to Mohegan, grab dinner, see a show, play the tables, get back on a helicopter and be in your apartment by midnight.”
In New York the new route also helps solve the seasonality problem. 100 flights on July 4th weekend is one thing but not so many are making their way to the beach in January.
“Just because of the region we are in by definition it’s seasonal,” Licht says. “Certainly the highest volume exists in the summer months, however we have flown all year.”
The day we visited Blade’s lounge on the east side of Manhattan the company was running six flights to Mohegan Sun or the Hamptons. They also offer a service to get travelers to the area’s airports in under 10 minutes.
Licht says the company is keeping all its options open as it look to expand service anywhere there’s a “need for people in a highly concentrated area to go out to their weekend houses.”
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