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New York City Helicopter tours – prices, duration, timings, flight route

A New York City helicopter tour is an excellent way to take in a bird’s eye panoramic view of Gotham City.

From the Manhattan Battery Park to Wall Street, from Upper Manhattan to the renowned Coney Island beach, a helicopter tour over New York is a memorable holiday activity.

The duration of NYC helicopter tours may range from 10 minutes to three hours.

This article covers everything you must know before booking tickets for the New York helicopter tour.

Best time of the year for helicopter tour

The best time for a helicopter tour of New York is anytime – how can you go wrong with New York City?

The city of New York looks mesmerizing from above in all seasons.

However, if you want the city to be in its best form, we suggest a helicopter tour over New York in the Fall or Spring.

Fall in New York is between mid-September to mid-December.

The crisp breeze, bright sun, and just-the-right temperatures, coupled with the fall colors, make your Helicopter tour of NYC memorable.

Spring is mid-March to mid-June.

Best time for helicopter tour over New York

Helicopter over New York City
Lady-Photo / Getty

Since the heliport is closed on Sunday, there are no helicopter tours over New York. 

Most helicopter tours in the Big Apple are available from Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 6.30 pm. On holidays, they wrap up early – by 5 pm.

Flights over the East River (looking west over the City) are best done in the morning because the sun will be behind you.

It is best to plan flights over the Hudson River (looking east over the City) in the late afternoon with the sun on your back.

Since the helicopter can fly in different directions during a tour, 1 to 3 pm is the best time for a helicopter tour over New York.

During this period, the sun is on top, and the rays are not in your eyes, obstructing both your view and ability to take photographs. 

Even though heli tours are costly, chopper rides are a sought-after tourist activity. 

And getting your favorite time slot for your chopper tour of NYC isn’t always possible.

Here is what we recommend to obtain your preferred time slot for a helicopter tour:

1. Book your helicopter tour 2-3 weeks in advance

2. Call up the tour company after booking the tickets and reserve your time slot

Because of the demand, the helicopter rides are almost always delayed by 30-60 minutes. 

Keep this in mind while planning your sortie above New York.


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Helicopter tour’s price and duration

Most helicopter tours in New York last 12 to 30 minutes, which is enough to make a pleasant flight over the major attractions of the Big Apple.

Most of the trips lasting this duration cost a little over US$200 per person.

Fifteen minutes are enough to see most of New York’s attractions, but some tourists prefer more air time.

If you opt for a private helicopter tour, you can decide the duration of the flying time.

Recommended reading: Cheap helicopter tours in New York


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Are New York helicopter tours worth the cost?

If we look at the money spent per minute, helicopter tours are one of the costliest tourist activities in New York.

For instance, the introductory helicopter tour lasts for about 12-15 minutes and costs a little over US$200 per person. 

As the duration of the helicopter ride over New York increases, the cost goes up.

A 25 to 30-minute helicopter ride over New York will put you back by about US$350.

Due to these prohibitive costs, a helicopter tour in New York is not for the commoner.

However, if you can afford it, it is an adrenaline rush you should indulge in at least once in your life. 

Tourists who have flown over New York confirm that the rush of accelerating over the New York landmarks is fascinating.

Besides, the panoramic view of the New York skyline makes for great photo opportunities.

Helicopter tours of NYC are not the best way to explore the massive city. If that’s your objective, we suggest Hop On Hop Off New York bus tour or one of the popular New York discount cards such as  NYC Explorer PassNew York Pass, or CityPass, which get you free entry into many attractions.  


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Best helicopter tour companies

There are numerous helicopter tour companies in New York.

The names of these helicopter tour companies sound similar and confuse the average tourist visiting New York, which is precisely the intention.

Some of the helicopter tour companies that specialize in NYC and other cities in the USA are –

  • CitySights NY
  • HeliFlite
  • Liberty Helicopters
  • Wings Air Helicopters
  • FlyNyon
  • New York Helicopter
  • Helicopter New York City
  • Awesome Flight LLC
  • Helicopter Fight Services
  • CityExperts NY
  • Helicopters Air Charter
  • Global Positioning Jets

The top four are Liberty HelicoptersHelicopter Fight ServicesWings Air Helicopters, and Zip Aviation.

Of these four, based on the quality of the choppers, quality of the tours, safety record, and punctuality, we recommend Zip Aviation.

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Best helicopter tour NYC

There are numerous helicopter tours in New York, but our favorites are the NYC Manhattan Helicopter Tour, Big Apple Helicopter Tour, and New York City Deluxe Helicopter Tour.

We explain them below, and you can choose the most appropriate tour based on the time you want to spend in the air and your budget.

To know the path your chopper will take for each recommended tour, check out the helicopter route map below.

These helicopter tours of Manhattan in New York are in high demand, and if you book in advance, you are more likely to get your preferred time and date.

All three tours are offered in English. The Manhattan Helicopter Tour is also available in Spanish, French, German, Russian, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, and Portuguese.

NYC Manhattan Helicopter Tour

All passengers of the Liberty Harbor Helicopter tour are welcomed like celebrities and strapped into your helicopter seat.

After a safety briefing, your pilot lifts off to show you stunning views of New York’s breathtaking skyline.

Your helicopter flies by Lower Manhattan’sManhattan’s Battery Park and Wall Street, announcing to the World that you have arrived.

You then stare right into the eyes of the Statue of Liberty before you turn back to go up the Hudson River. On the way, you take in aerial views of Ellis Island.

A string of New York attractions follow one by one on your right-hand side.

After crossing the USS Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum, you will spot the lush greenery of New York’sYork’s famed Central Park.

After going halfway up Central Park, the pilot will turn back, and this time you can see all the attractions on your left-hand side.

Once your helicopter tour NYC is over, the pilot brings you back to Pier 6.

The duration of this heli tour is 12 to 15 minutes.

The cost of this New York City helicopter tour is $229 per person.

This price doesn’t include the $40 per person heliport fee mandated by the Downtown Manhattan Heliport, which you will have to pay before takeoff.

The tour is available Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 6.30 pm.

Landmarks you will see

1. Statue of Liberty
2. Ellis Island
3. One World Trade Center
4. 9/11 Memorial
5. Brooklyn Bridge
6. Battery Park
7. Wall Street/Financial District
8. Empire State Building
9. Chrysler Building
10. Madison Square Garden
11. Times Square
12. U.S.S. Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum
13. Central Park

Recommended reading: Manhattan Helicopter Tour

Big Apple Helicopter Tour

Take an exhilarating helicopter ride above Manhattan and witness the city’s most iconic landmarks.

You’ll see the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, Statue of Liberty, and Central Park, among others.

Departing from Pier 6, you’ll fly above the Hudson River, catch a glimpse of Governors and Ellis Islands, and witness Manhattan’s Financial District.

You’ll also see famous buildings such as the Chrysler, Woolworth, and Hudson Yards, Grand Central Terminal, and the USS Intrepid. On this portion of the flight, you’ll get a peek at the George Washington Bridge and the renowned Central Park.

Choose between options to extend your flight and soar past Central Park, Yankee Stadium, St. John the Divine Cathedral, Columbia University, and even the Palisades of New Jersey.

Visitors can take a helicopter tour of New York City starting at $269 per person.

The tour can last between 15 and 30 minutes, depending on the package selected.

The ticket price covers the Heliport security and facility fee of US$40.

This comprehensive tour is an incredible way to see New York City from the sky!

Like the previous helicopter tour, this is also available from Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 6.30 pm.

Landmarks you will see

  1. The Chrysler Building
  2. The Empire State Building
  3. The Statue of Liberty
  4. Central Park
  5. The Brooklyn Bridge
  6. The Manhattan Bridge
  7. Governors Island
  8. Ellis Island
  9. Manhattan’s Financial District
  10. Woolworth Building
  11. Hudson Yards
  12. Grand Central Terminal
  13. USS Intrepid
  14. George Washington Bridge
  15. St. John the Divine Cathedral
  16. Columbia University
  17. Palisades of New Jersey

Recommended reading: Big Apple Helicopter Tour

New York City Deluxe Helicopter Tour

Experience the exhilarating thrill of helicopter travel as you take a ride over Manhattan.

The New York Deluxe helicopter tour is customized for adventure seekers.

With this chopper tour of New York, you get to see all the attractions mentioned in the previous two tours and more.

With narration from a highly-trained pilot, discover the best of New York City and take in breathtaking views of the Big Apple from the sky.

Enjoy the best views in New York City from inside a helicopter, complete with large floor-to-ceiling convex windows for your viewing pleasure.

With tour narration and all heliport fees included, there is no better way to enjoy the dramatic and ever-evolving New York City skyline.

Visitors will also be provided with noise-cancelling Bose headsets and access to lockers.

Choose the flight duration on the tour booking page, with prices ranging between US$274 and US$379.


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Helicopter tour exclusions

When you book your helicopter tour of New York City, only the flight time is included.

The booking doesn’t include Gratuities (which are optional) and hotel pickup and drop-off.

All helicopters seat 5-6 passengers plus the pilot, which means it won’t be a private tour.

A free tour is included for your child if they are less than 15 Kgs, and you can show proof of age.


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Security for Helicopter tours NYC

New York Tourist in helicopter
Christiano Babini / Getty

Regardless of the tour operator, all tourists must go through security before they take off on a Manhattan Sky tour.

  1. All flyers are expected to produce a valid photo ID card (preferably a Driver’s license or a Passport)
  2. All flyers must walk through a metal detector, as in an airport
  3. Since no handbags or carry-on bags are allowed on the helicopter, you must leave your bags with the tour operator’s security
  4. Flyers can carry their cameras and video cameras on the helicopter, but they have to go through the security first
  5. Weight restrictions may apply to ensure the safety of all passengers – nobody can exceed 350 Lbs (or 159 Kg)

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Meeting Point

The meeting point for a New York Helicopter Tour will vary depending on the tour option you choose.

It’s important to keep in mind that the meeting location may change.

Visitors should check the booking page before arriving to confirm the exact location.

Recommended Reading: Best helicopter tours in USA


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Helicopters used for NYC chopper tours

Usually, three types of choppers are used for heli tours in New York.

Bell 206B Jet Ranger

The Bell 206B Jet Ranger is a two-blade, single-engine helicopter that can seat four passengers and one pilot.

This helicopter’s safety, size, and easy maneuverability make it a top choice for sky tours of Manhattan.

Bell Jet Ranger’s agility is so legendary that the US Army signed a contract with Bell to mass-produce it in its military form.

The Army version is called the Kiowa Warrior.

Bell 407/Bell 407GX

The Bell 407 is a four-blade, single-engine helicopter that is quite popular with flying tour operators.

It can carry six passengers in addition to a pilot.

This chopper is the epitome of luxury with leather seating, extra headroom, state-of-the-art noise-canceling headsets, etc.

AgustaWestland 109SP Grand New

The AgustaWestland GrandNew is a modern helicopter used in various roles – both civilian and military.

It can seat five passengers and two pilots.

The Grand New chopper offers high-performance capabilities, a spacious cabin, and a low environmental footprint.


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New York helicopter tours may get banned

The city of New York doesn’t like helicopter tours.

For decades, the city’s citizens have been citing air and noise pollution by the thousands of helicopter tours and asking them to stop.

Till 2016, there were almost 200 helicopter takeoffs every day.

By 2017, this number was reduced by half – so now less than 100 helicopters take off from Pier 6 heliport every day.

Federal law prohibits these tour flights from flying directly over New York City, Governor’s Island, and Staten Island.

In April 2018, a new bill was discussed, which aimed to ban helicopter tours of Manhattan forever.

You may want to go on a tour before it gets banned.

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Sources

# Tripadvisor.com
# Heliny.com
# Newyorkhelicopter.com

The travel specialists at TheBetterVacation.com use only high-quality sources while researching & writing their articles. We make every attempt to keep our content current, reliable and trustworthy.

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This article was researched & written by

Edited by Rekha Rajan & fact checked by Jamshed V Rajan

1 thought on “New York City Helicopter tours – prices, duration, timings, flight route”

  1. Thanks for the tip to take a helicopter ride over New York City in the Fall or Spring. I don’t want to travel there right now because of COVID-19. I’ll wait until the Spring to see if it is any better and then maybe head to New York with my wife for a helicopter ride.

    Reply

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