I got to sample the delight of the BLADE helicopter transfers from their Manhattan West 30th Street location to New York JFK on a Thursday morning in October 2023. Fortunately, I was not paying cash; instead, the flight was a perk that came with my approval into JetBlue’s Mosaic 4.
This time around, I was heading to LA for work, and I booked BLADE using one of my four free helicopter transfer passes that came with my status match.
The experience was fun and over in a flash. I left home in midtown Manhattan at 9:50 am. I was checked in and in the lounge by 10:10 am. By 10:25 am, after getting a coffee while using the lounge, I was in the air on the way to New York JFK. The Scheduled arrival time was by 10:40 am and was dropped off curbside at JFK T5 by 10:50 am. Not bad at all, one hour door to door.
The BLADE experience was fast, private, exclusive, and elite. I felt like James Bond or a movie star, cocooned away in a private, exclusive experience. The BLADE lounge is beautiful and opened just weeks before my visit. The ride was swift, and in the end, the entire experience was highly exclusive and private. Despite being a few minutes late, I was effectively curbside in under one hour, less time than taking a direct car or the rail.
On the downside, this is by far the most expensive way to travel between Manhattan and JFK at $195 each way without the JetBlue pass. The baggage limitation is stringent, which limits the service’s usefulness unless you’re willing to pay a lot for both the service and the penalties.
I’ll still use my remaining BLADE passes for certain JetBlue flights when baggage quantity makes sense.
Booking my BLADE Helicopter Transfer
I came as a shock how fast it was booking a BLADE Helicopter transfer, and it was much smoother than I expected. Communication was mostly by email, which was super convenient and easy. First, my 4 Mosaic BLADE helicopter perks were emailed on October 10th. I got this email a few days after my JetBlue status match approval.
They also featured the instructions with guidance on how to book the BLADE helicopter transfers. The first thing I needed to do was include the long booking code provided in the booking. After that, I should send an email to a particular BLADE email address with the subject line “JetBlue Mosaic 4 Booking. ” In the email, I was to provide my full legal name, connecting JetBlue flight number, requested date of transfer, phone number, our passenger weight (or more than one), and the booking code.
No sooner had I booked my JetBlue flight from JFK to LAX, confirmed I would take it, and followed up by emailing BLADE. The process was extremely rapid and took less than a couple of hours.
- 8:19 pm: I sent my initial email with the requested information and booking code.
- 8:24 pm: I received a response only to realize I had inserted the incorrect flight date.
- 8:44 pm: I emailed back to correct my flight date.
- 9:02 pm: I receive my confirmation email with details. I was on the 10:20 am helicopter flight from West 30th Street to JFK and would be curbside at the terminal no later than 10:40 am.
BLADE Helicopter Cost
One thing to remember is that typically, BLADE is $195, and With my helicopter transfer pass, this was $0. A pretty valuable perk when usage is feasible – the taxi I used brought my airport trip cost down to under $20.
However, the main issue with BLADE is the baggage allowance. I was got the luggage allotment and limitations in this first email – which, admittedly, I missed. Here it is again:
- The standard luggage allotment for all scheduled and continuous flights is one standard-sized carry-on suitcase and a small personal item, such as a briefcase, laptop bag, or purse, with a combined weight of 25 lbs. The carry-on should be no larger than 21.7” x 13.7” x 9”. Failure to meet these specifications can result in the pilot rejecting your luggage for the flight.
- If your luggage exceeds the dimensions listed above, BLADE offers two different luggage upgrades to accommodate oversized and overweight luggage.
- Excess Luggage and Enhanced Seating – $145
- Additional luggage allowance of up to 65 lbs across two commercial-sized carry-on bags. This will guarantee an empty seat for extra personal space.
- Tote Taxi Delivery Service – $135 (Two checked-sized bags) + $50 per bag after initial allotment
- We will pick up and transfer your oversized or excess luggage (golf clubs, skis, and checked luggage). Your luggage will be picked up and delivered to your desired location.
- Excess Luggage and Enhanced Seating – $145
Unfortunately, for this trip to a wedding, my luggage with minimal photography equipment ended up being about 30 lbs – eek! I had five changes of clothes with me for three days, including three suits, two camera bodies, three lenses in total, and no tripod.
Luckily, since it was my first time, the penalty fee of $145 was waived, but it’s something to be mindful of when traveling.
Getting to BLADE
Living on Manhattan’s west side, I took a taxi to the BLADE Manhattan West 30th Street heliport. Thankfully, the traffic was light, and the journey took approximately ten minutes and was under a $20 ride.
The BLADE facility is located right at West 30th Street, between the West Side highway and the river. There isn’t much of a drop-off or pick-up area, but nevertheless, it is very convenient to get there by taxi or Uber. I would definitely not recommend taking the subway, which would be quite the hike. A cab or Uber is the preferred option to get to the BLADE Helicopter Heliport.
When you arrive at West 30th Street, you find that you are on the south side of the long, narrow facility, which is the arrivals building. For departures, signs point you along the walking and biking path to the North side of the property and facility.
One thing to note is that the entire area is a little awkward. It is very secluded and feels a bit like it’s in the woods. It took about six minutes to walk here. Also, the building looks a bit shabby on the outside since it’s a semi-permanent installation with wooden handrails and what appears to be a moveable building.
BLADE Check In
Once inside the BLADE Helicopter Heliport, I was warmly greeted and asked for my name, ID, and reservation time. The facility was empty; I was the only one there besides one other pilot.
The agent checked my ID, and my carry-on luggage was also taken, tagged, and weighed. I was given a fantastic BLADE boarding pass, which was fit onto my wrist. My baggage was also tagged with Blade luggage bands.
Unfortunately, While I was in the lounge, BLADE found my luggage was over the limit. The agent notified me of this, and the typical limitation, then asked if it was my first flight. When I said yes, then excess fee was waived for this time only. *Phew* This is one of my biggest fears: traveling. I’ll get to this in more detail later.
With a 10:40 am arrival and a 10:20 am departure time, I didn’t have much time to explore the facility, but I took this time to tour the lounge. While in the lounge, I was asked if I wanted a coffee, and this provided piping hot and handed to me a few minutes later in a ceramic mug. At 10:15 am, the other passenger on this helicopter flight joined me in the lounge.
BLADE Helicopter Lounge
The first thing I have to say is I love the finishes and décor of the BLADE Lounge. It reminds me of something I’d see in Palm Springs, California, at a famous movie star’s residence or touring the beautiful modern architecture in that city.
The lounge’s central focus is a rectangular bar area with seats on all four sides. A large BLADE Helicopter logo adorns the side of the bar area that’s first visible upon entry. The lounge decoration features many helicopters and movie star posters, which is another subtle nod to Palm Springs. Dotted around the lounge, many TV screens show clips of helicopters over the years.
Around the perimeter edges of this bar area, there are many other nooks and lounge spaces. Upon entry, you first notice the high-end Scotch Whiskey adorning the walls – all bottles available to drink if you’re a passenger.
For those who need privacy to make a call, there is a a tiny phone room, with a door to mask the noise.
In addition, you can also find a small, colorful reading nook with two seats, which is perfect for some quiet time reading before a flight.
There are two proper lounging areas at the furthest end of the lounge, nearest to the Hudson. These feature an array of sofa configurations. On one side, one area has white and blue sofas with bright pink, purple, and white carpets.
However, on the other side, another area with a curved leather sectional looks out onto the river and Heliport.
Finally, single seats overlook reading material and the heliport. These have a tasteful burgundy fabric upholstery.
Live plants and cacti scattered throughout the lounge, so much so that I felt like I was in New Mexico. All in all, the service was at the concierge level. I was asked if I wanted anything to drink, and I said coffee would be great, which was delivered to me about five minutes later.
BLADE Helicopter Lounge Restrooms
There are two bathrooms along the rear side of the lounge side. Both are unisex and lockable. Inside, you will find each restroom has a floral jungle theme, creating a colorful but pleasant experience.
The restrooms feature a large sink and Toto automatic toilets with automatic bidets. The bathrooms had a beautiful ambiance and a really nice scent. Although in terms of cleanliness, I can only describe them as pristine!
The Flight & Boarding
Sat in the lounge, we could see a series of Newark-bound helicopters land and take off. Finally, our BLADE Helicopter came in around 10:23 am.
On today’s flight to JFK, there was only another passenger and me. Before boarding, he and I lined up at the door. Here, the BLADE agent gave instructions. to stay behind and within the yellow lines to the helicopter.
The boarding process is pretty strict, and in retrospect, I made a few mistakes here while filming.
All baggage handling is done on the passenger’s behalf. This is very premium and elite. However, this is also for safety purposes. First, agents take our bags and load them onto the helicopter.
To board, you walk alongside the yellow boarding lanes to the helicopter. Once on board, you buckle up and are told to put on a headset.
The cabin configuration is 2×2, with the forward row facing backwards. There are cupholders in the center armrest; and headphones plugged in.
The BLADE Helicopter Flight
The first thing you notice is how tiny the BLADE Helicopter is. You can only fit four people in a cozy cabin, however, baggage could also be an issue if it’s simply too large.
In the end, the flight was a little late, since we were late to take off and, as a result, late to land by a couple of minutes.
In what is an unusual flying experience, we could hear the Air Traffic Control for New York JFK, including a few transmissions from neighboring planes. Also, I could not help but notice the pilot had a silky, smooth French accent, with a hint of excitement for the ride ahead.
I did not expect how quickly helicopters jump into the air compared to fixed wings. One minute, you are buckling up; the next, you are in the air and on your way. The weather was stunning, and it was a beautiful day to fly with excellent visibility all around.
Taking off over midtown, I saw the tall buildings of Hudson Yards rising behind a misty haze of the sun behind it.
We got some fantastic views of western Manhattan and downtown. We then flew over the East River with views of the Brooklyn Bridge and downtown Brooklyn.
What can I say? It was absolutely magnificent, just a picture-perfect day to fly.
After this point, the ride got pretty dull for the next few minutes, until we approached JFK.
Then suddenly, the helicopter did some sideways acrobatics, looping around and spiraling into a sideways landing at the Modern Aviation terminal at JFK.
In total, the ride was about ten minutes long.
We landed diagonally; then, there was a pause as the ground crew made preparations to accept us. The French pilot connected with us again, thanking us for the ride and wishing to see us again soon. What an accent, and what a job! I have to confess to a bit of jealousy of what he does for a living.
First, we watched the following passengers and their luggage arrive; then, the helicopter doors were opened.
Our luggage was taken off, and we got an escort to the BLADE helicopter terminal at the Modern Aviation building at JFK. The ground crew at JFK was even friendlier than on the outbound. They offered to take a photograph of me with the helicopter.
Then, I was escorted, with my luggage, through the building and directly outside to the Chevy Yukon transfer vehicle. Up to this point, BLADE handles all luggage on your behalf.
Within minutes, we were on our way, and by this time, it was 10:40. The transfer had a couple of stops to make. The First was at Delta’s Terminal 4 to drop off the second passenger; then the second stop was mine at T5.
At this point, I had an interesting conversation with my fellow passenger. The subject was Delta, the Medallion changes, and Status Match. We are both Delta Diamonds. However, we were at very different income levels and spending goals.
One of the points was that, in my case, I don’t see value in spending $35k (now $28k temporarily) to maintain my status with Delta. However, in his case, as a very high-income person who spends over $250,000 annually on an Amex card, he welcomed Delta’s changes and thought the upgrade list on his flight was too long.
He pointed out that there were a whopping 77 people on his flight upgrade list, and he was #1 and cleared. However he did say Delta is non-union, and they thus have a better culture. He had not flown Mint but heard good things.
Once he got off at T4 for his Delta flight, my driver whisked me away to JetBlue’s T5.
My driver was fast and super friendly and even offered (a bit too late, unfortunately) to slow down so I could take better photos. I should have taken him up but instead settled for a speedy transfer.
Ultimately, we reached the JFK Terminal 5 at 10:50 am, a few minutes later than the 10:40 I was expecting.
I have to say the BLADE Helicopter transfer is an incredible perk from JetBlue’s Mosaic 4. The ride is excellent value and would have cost $195 each way, full fare. Plus, extra on top of that if you exceed the baggage!
This ride is quite lovely and gives you some semblance of a lounge experience when flying on JetBlue Mint. That said, what I really liked was the fast, exclusive, private, and concierge-level service. This includes a coffee service provided directly to you and a lovely, quiet lounge to make calls and have meetings. It helps that the furnishings are attractive, too!
The ride was fast and efficient, and the door-to-curb service at the end was excellent. Although, my ride was a few minutes late, which didn’t matter too much to me. Ultimately, I was still one hour and ten minutes from my flight.
The whole experience made me question whether I’m adventurous enough to be considered a frequent helicopter user.
I don’t think I’ll be using BLADE that often, to be honest. While it’s very convenient, fast, and exclusive, I have a major issue with meeting the baggage limitation on virtually every trip. Even though I usually fly carry-on only, my baggage usually comes in at 25lbs combined, far beyond the 15lbs limitation for BLADE.
This is also the most expensive way to get to New York JFK, and I would be hesitant to use this service on a day with poor weather!
- Very Fast.
- Very “elite”
- Very exclusive.
- Great new lounge.
- Concierge-level service from start to finish.
- The baggage limitation is strict and prevents me from using this regularly in any form.
- Flight, ride, and arrival were a few minutes late.
- Entry for the BLADE lounge and transfer is a bit difficult to access.
- Expensive without a pass.