You flash the cash, secure the ticket, and then book the… helicopter transfer? While most of us take an Uber to and from the airport, it turns out savvy Australian flyers, when travelling to the US, can skip just about every queue in Los Angeles and New York, thanks to an inspired, apache-shaped idea of American Airlines.
Various airlines offer chauffeur services to and from the airport. However, usually, these come with wheels. Fortunately for those with a penchant for whirly-birds and an aversion of playing automobile Tetris on slow mode, there is now a way to circumvent LA traffic—if you have the cash to burn.
And—as Fast Company reports, “In an egalitarian twist, this luxury service is available to all American Airlines passengers, regardless of cabin.” That is—again—if they have the cash to burn.
“You could have pampered treatment from Wall Street all the way to a middle seat, in the back of coach, between two screaming babies, next to the restroom,” (Fast Company).
This comes as American Airlines expand their ‘Five Star Service’, which includes access to a boutique terminal called The Private Suite, a Cadillac escort to your gate, and your own dedicated security officer enabling you to clear security (if you’re leaving) or customs (if you’re arriving) in under 5 minutes, to include a helicopter transfer as an optional add on.
To achieve this, American Airlines have partnered with Blade, a helicopter company, to run these ‘flying’ transfers between LAX and JFK airports and their respective city centres.
Rob Wiesenthal, founder and CEO of Blade, explains the benefit as such: “The number one pain point of travelling from New York City and Los Angeles to the airports is traffic… Our Blade airport transfer product turns an hour-and-a-half drive into a helicopter flight that’s five to seven minutes.”
And the silver service doesn’t end there—departing passengers will be picked up from the helicopter in a Cadillac, before being transferred to United Airlines’ flagship check-in desk, while arrivals will be escorted to baggage claim and then driven to their waiting chopper in a Cadillac.
However, as the Australian Business Traveller points out, “The partnership between the American Airlines and Blade isn’t quite seamless yet—you still need to order the helicopter transfer separately through Blade’s own app or website.”
While technically this service is open to all passengers, we’d bet it will be mostly used by those in First, with the start price, for a one way private charter between LAX and downtown LA, coming in at A$2,140, for up to 6 people (plus an extra A$490 each way to get American Airlines’ Five Star Service in the airport itself).
Oh and, as a side note, getting from LAX to JFK can be done by chartering one of Blade’s private Midsize Jets, which will set you back a cool $40,331… However, for business travellers wanting a little taste of luxury, without sending your company bankrupt, American Airlines’ existing Five Star service is still a good choice.
As the Australian Business Traveller reports, “The base-level Five Star Service starts at US$350 ($490) for the first passenger and includes Flagship First check-in, an escort through the airport, Admirals Club access and Cadillac transfers where a Blade helicopter is chartered.”
Oh and for US$650 (A$910), you can nab those same benefits, plus access to the Flagship First Dining lounge in Los Angeles, New York JFK, Miami, Chicago and Dallas Fort Worth when it opens later this year.