Looking for a helicopter tour of New York? Congrats! This just means you are in the Big Apple for a holiday, and that’s a lot of fun.
A New York City helicopter tour gives you an opportunity to take in a bird’s eye panoramic view of the Gotham city.
The duration of NYC helicopter tours may range from 10 minutes to three hours but this is enough to get your adrenaline pumping for a long time.
Fly over the busy streets of Manhattan and feel like a cop chasing down the bank robbers with the fascinating Helicopter NYC tour.
Soar above the landmark buildings and skyscrapers of the New York and enjoy this thrilling once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
From the Manhattan Battery Park to the Wall Street, from the Upper Manhattan to the renowned Coney Island beach, the best helicopter tours in NYC will show you what you have never seen.
Continue reading for some of the best helicopter tours of Manhattan has to offer.
Best time for a helicopter tour of New York
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.
Having said that, if you want the city to be in its best form, we suggest a helicopter tour over New York in Fall or Spring.
Fall in New York is between mid-September to mid-December. The crisp breezes, bright sun and just-the-right temperatures coupled with the colors of fall make your Helicopter tour NYC memorable.
Spring is mid-March to mid-June.
Best time of the day for a helicopter tour
On Sundays, there are no helicopter tours NYC offers. The heliport is closed on Sunday.
Most helicopter tours in the Big Apple are available from Monday to Saturday from 9 am in the morning to 6:30 pm in the evening. 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.
Flights over the Hudson River (looking east over the City) are best done in the late afternoon with the sun on your back.
However, since helicopters go in different directions the best time of the day for a helicopter tour over New York is around 1 pm to 3 pm. During this period the sun is on top and the rays are not in your eyes.
When your NYC helicopter tour chopper moves in all directions, it exposes you to the bright sun thus hindering your view. This can also affect your ability to take nice photographs.
Despite its cost 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 get 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.
New York helicopter tour price and duration
Most of the helicopter tour in New York last 12 to 15 minutes. This is enough to do a nice trip of the major attractions of the Big Apple. Most of the trips lasting this duration cost around USD 200 per person.
The next option you have is the 20-minute helicopter tour of NYC. The price of chopper tours of this duration is generally around USD 300 per person.
By adding just USD 50 to your budget for the helicopter ride, you can increase your duration to 25-30 minutes. That is, a 30-minute New York City helicopter tour price will be approximately USD 350.
Fifteen minutes are enough to see most of New York’s attractions. However, tourists who prefer more air time opt for the longer duration helicopter rides over New York.
Note: If you opt for a private helicopter tour, you can decide the duration of the flying time.
Best helicopter tour companies in New York
There are numerous helicopter tour companies in NYC.
Names of these helicopter tour companies sound similar and end up confusing the average tourist visiting New York – and that is precisely the intention.
Some of the helicopter tour companies which specialize in NYC and also 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 etc.
Of these four, based on the quality of the choppers, quality of the tours, safety record, and punctuality our favorite is Zip Aviation.
Before booking your chopper ride, do take a look at the three NYC helicopter tours Zip Aviation provides.
Are New York helicopter tours worth the cost?
If we look at the money spent per minute, helicopter tours NYC is one of the costliest tourist activity in New York.
Helicopter rides are costly. Even after discounts. Simple.
For instance, the basic helicopter tour lasts for about 12-15 minutes and costs around 200 USD per person. As the duration of the helicopter ride over New York increases, the cost goes up.
A 25 to 30 minutes’ helicopter ride NYC will put you back by about 350 USD.
Due to these prohibitive costs, a helicopter tour in New York is not for the common man.
However, if you can afford it, it is definitely an adrenalin rush you should opt for. Tourists who have flown over New York confirm that the rush of accelerating over the New York landmarks is to die for.
Besides the panoramic view of the New York skyline makes for great photo opportunities.
Note: Helicopter tours of NYC are not the best way to explore the massive city. If that’s your objective, we suggest you opt for the Hop On Hop Off New York Sightseeing bus instead.
Recommended Reading: Best cruises from New York
Best helicopter tour NYC
There are numerous helicopter tours in New York, however, these are the three we recommend. Based on the time and money you can afford, make your pick and book your tickets.
As for what route the helicopters take for the three of our recommended New York City helicopter tours, take a look at the helicopter route map below.
These helicopter tours of Manhattan in New York are in high demand. The sooner you book the better.
All the three tours are offered in English, Spanish, French, German, Russian, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, and Portuguese.
1. Liberty Harbor Helicopter Tour
The Liberty Harbor Helicopter tour is designed to make you feel like a celebrity.
You and your fellow tour passengers are welcomed as one, strapped into your helicopter seat and your personal pilot lifts off to catch breathtaking NYC skyline view.
Your helicopter flies by Lower Manhattan’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 U.S.S. Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum you will spot the lush greenery of New York’s famed Central Park.
After going half way 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.
Duration of this tour is 12 to 15 minutes.
The cost of this New York City helicopter tour is $209 per person.
This doesn’t include a $40 per person heliport fee, which you will have to pay before takeoff. This is mandated by the Downtown Manhattan Heliport.
The tour is available from Monday to Saturday from 9 AM in the morning to 6:30 PM in the evening.
Attractions included in New York City helicopter tour
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
2. Big City Helicopter Tour
When it comes to an NYC helicopter tour, more can be less. Many tourists feel 12 to 15 minutes of helicopter time isn’t enough and wish they can get more airtime.
The Big City helicopter tour has been designed for such adventure lovers.
With this chopper tour of New York, you get to see all the attractions that are part of the Liberty Harbor Helicopter Tour and more.
As a bonus, the Pilot doesn’t take a turn after reaching the midway of Central Park. The helicopter goes up further the Hudson river till to show you views of Upper Manhattan.
Once your chopper crosses the George Washington Bridge, the pilot takes a turn back.
On this heli tour, the additional New York attractions you will see are listed below.
This particular Helicopter NYC tour will quench your thirst of staying longer in the air as the tour duration is between 18 and 20 minutes.
The tour is available from Monday to Saturday from 9 AM in the morning to 6:30 PM in the evening and it costs around $289 per person.
Additional attractions included in this tour
14. Columbia University
15. Grant’s Tomb
16. George Washington Bridge
17. Harlem and Harlem River
18. Bronx & Yankee Stadium
19. Palisades Cliffs
20. Spuyten Duyvil Bridge
3. Grand Island Helicopter Tour
The Grand Island Helicopter tour is designed for people who like it big and beautiful. For tourists who would rather own the helicopter. Well, almost.
This is the longest helicopter tour you will find in New York.
This heli tour includes every New York attraction included in the previous tour – Big City Helicopter Tour and more.
To ensure you get a much longer time in the helicopter, the pilot doesn’t return after the George Washington Bridge. Instead, he continues flying till Spuyten Duyvil in the Bronx.
Once he has gone as high up Hudson river as he can go, he turns the helicopter around showing you all the New York attractions once again on your left-hand side.
On the way back, he continues flying beyond Pier 6 till you are right above the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. Verrazano Bridge is the longest double-decker suspension bridge in New York connecting Staten Island and Brooklyn.
Beyond the bridge, you will be able to spot the world-famous Coney Island beach and amusement park before you turn back for Pier 6.
This Helicopter NYC tour costs $349 per person and lasts for 25 to 30 minutes.
Like the previous helicopter tour NYC this tour is also available from Monday to Saturday from 9 AM in the morning to 6:30 PM in the evening.
Additional attractions included in this tour
21. Verrazano Bridge
22. Staten Island
23. Coney Island Beach & Amusement Park
Cancellation policy of helicopter tours of New York
All helicopter tours in NYC have the same cancellation policy.
Cancellations which are made with 48 to 24 hours to go will incur a cost of $50 per person (the rest will be refunded). No money will be refunded for same day cancellation or no-shows.
Exclusions to helicopter tour of New York
When you book your helicopter tour of NYC, the only thing that’s included is the chopper tour.
The booking doesn’t include Gratuities (which are optional), and hotel pickup and drop-off.
The heliport fee of USD 40 per person is also not included in your tour fee you pay while booking it. This has to be paid at the Heliport before takeoff.
All helicopters seat 5-6 passengers plus the pilot. In short, a private tour is not included.
A free tour is included for your child if he/she is less than 15 Kgs. However, you need to show a proof of age.
Security for Helicopter tours NYC
Irrespective 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. No handbags or carry-on bags are allowed on the helicopter. So, all bags have to be left with the security of the tour operator
4. Flyers can carry their cameras and video cameras on the helicopter but they have to go through the security first
5. A $40.00 per person facility/security fee is payable at the heliport. This is over and above the ticket price you will be paying while buying the ticket.
6. To ensure safety of all passengers flying on the helicopter, weight restrictions may apply. Passengers may not exceed 350 Lbs (or 158.7 Kgs).
Directions to Downtown Manhattan Heliport
Downtown Manhattan Heliport is also known as the Wall Street Heliport.
It is located at Pier 6 at East River. Address: South St. and Broad St., New York, NY 10004.
The Heliport is located just above the Battery on Pier 6, on the East River north of the Staten Island Ferry and south of the South Street Seaport.
If you are self-driving to the Downtown Manhattan heliport for your Helicopter tour NYC, come in a little early. There are only 18 parking slots for cars.
That’s why we suggest you take one of the subway lines. It is a quick walk from all stations.
Helicopters used for NYC chopper tours
1. 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 helicopters safety, size, and easy maneuverability makes it a top choice for sky tours of Manhattan.
Bell Jet Ranger’s agility is so legendary that US Army signed a contract with Bell to mass produce it in its military form. The Army version is called the Kiowa Warrior.
2. Bell 407/Bell 407GX
The Bell 407 is a four-blade, single-engine helicopter 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.
3. AgustaWestland 109SP Grand New
The AgustaWestland GrandNew is modern helicopter used in various roles – both civilian and military. It can seat 5 passengers and two pilots.
The Grand New chopper offers high-performance capabilities, a spacious cabin, and low environmental footprint.
New York City helicopter tours may get banned
The city of New York doesn’t like the helicopter tours. For decades NYC citizens, have been citing air and noise pollution by the thousands of helicopter tours and asking for them to be stopped.
Till 2016 there used to be almost 200 helicopters 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.
This is why a federal law prohibits these tour flights from flying directly over New York City. In fact, these helicopter tours are also banned from flying over Governor’s Island and Staten Island.
In April 2018, a new bill is being discussed to ban helicopter tours of Manhattan forever.
You may want to go on a tour before it gets banned.
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