Six NYC hotels are providing free helicopter airport transfers into the city — with one small catch

With New York’s congestion pricing plan indefinitely delayed, traffic into Manhattan this summer is set to be gridlocked as usual.

But travelers staying in some of the city’s top luxury hotels can avoid the highways altogether.

Announced Tuesday, Marriott International Luxury Group is providing free helicopter transfers from John F. Kennedy International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport from July 1 to Sept. 2.

The transfers can reduce transportation time from the airports into Manhattan to as little as five minutes.

The flights, operated by the urban air mobility company Blade, are available for guests staying at least two nights in one of the six Manhattan hotels:

  1. The St. Regis New York
  2. JW Marriott Essex House New York
  3. W New York – Union Square
  4. The New York EDITION
  5. The Ritz-Carlton New York, NoMad
  6. The Luxury Collection Hotel Manhattan Midtown

Helicopter transfers land at one of two helipads in Manhattan: Blade Lounge East on East 34th Street or the newer Blade Lounge West on West 30th Street, where a car service waits to drive guests to their hotels.

The catch

To avail this perk, entry-level rooms won’t suffice. Rather, guests must book a certain type of suite at those hotels.

With hotel room rates in New York at record highs because of migrant housing and a ban on Airbnb short-term rentals, suites at Marriott’s five-star luxury hotels won’t come cheap.

A Marriott representative told CNBC the “Liberty Suite” at The Ritz-Carlton NoMad typically costs about $3,500 per night.

A round-trip transfer on a Blade helicopter between JFK or Newark Liberty and Manhattan starts at $390 for the basic fare and increases to $500 for a “Maximum Flexibility Fare.” Ground transportation to and from Blade “lounges,” or helipad locations, are an additional $180, he said.

Marriott’s summer-time perk includes both services, according to the representative.

Travelers who are staying in rooms — rather than suites — in one of the six named hotels aren’t completely out of luck, however. These guests are eligible for discounts on Blade’s services this summer, the representative said.

Blade began operating on-demand helicopter services to New York-area airports in 2019, several months ahead of Uber Copter. Both services allow travelers to book rides via apps. At the time, one seat on a Blade transport service was $195.

Uber Copter ceased operating in 2020.

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