Uber Copter Lost a Race to the Airport Against … the NYC Subway?

One cost over $200, the other cost under $8

Uber Copter New York City
The New York Post sent two reporters to JFK airport, one in Uber Copter and one on the subway.

When we wrote about the launch of Uber Copter in New York City last week, it seemed like a surprisingly worthwhile proposition. The ride-sharing app now offers eight-or-so-minute helicopter rides from a heliport in lower Manhattan to JFK airport for $200-225. That’s a price many would be willing to pay to drastically cut down travel time (and anxiety).

But is it really faster? The New York Post recently put it to the test, pitting Uber Copter against NYC’s infamous delay-prone public transportation system. In total, the helicopter (and cars to the helipad) cost around $250. The subway ride and AirTrain (a rail system to the airport terminals) cost $7.75. 

The winner (by three minutes): Public transit. 

How is that possible? The Post details the journey of the two reporters it sent on the race to escape from New York, and the downfall of Uber Copter is clear. While the ride itself is much quicker than most transportation options to the airport, those who wish to use it not only have to get to the heliport in downtown Manhattan, they must be below Houston Street if they want to use the one-click ride option (that bundles the car and helicopter ride into one). The starting point for this test was Midtown, so the heli reporter spent a total of 37 minutes taking two Ubers to the Bell 430 helicopter.

“Uber contended that the copter service is only intended for customers already in Lower Manhattan, so a traveler starting off there would have beaten the subway,” writes the Post. Duly noted. 

The end point for the race was the new TWA Hotel, and like Uber Copter, that midcentury destination isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

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