Top-tier Uber Rewards members will soon be able to bypass rush-hour traffic by requesting an Uber Copter to or from John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Uber is giving some of its highest-level rewards members a way to literally fly over rush-hour traffic between Manhattan and New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport with a new helicopter service that is launching July 9.
Uber Copter will be available on-demand through the ridesharing app Monday through Friday during the afternoon rush hour period. The journey will include an Uber car ride on both ends of the trip as well as the eight-minute helicopter ride. Uber Copter can be booked starting five days in advance and up to one hour prior to pickup.
It will initially only be available to Uber Platinum and Uber Diamond rewards members. Rewards members earn a point for every dollar spent on rides, double the points for every dollar spent on UberX rides, and triple points for Uber Black trips. Platinum membership is gained by earning 2,500 points, and Diamond is gained by earning 7,500 points. The company didn’t include Uber Gold members, its second-tier membership, in the announcement (and did not explain why).
The full end-to-end journey will cost between about $200 and $225, based on a dynamic pricing model.
Uber has partnered with helicopter charter service Heliflite, which uses a fleet of dual-engine helicopters with a dual-pilot system.
Uber Copter is the first manifestation of Uber Elevate, the company’s vision for aerial ridesharing. Uber is developing what it calls small, electric VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft, or Uber Air vehicles, that it plans to begin testing in Dallas and Los Angeles in 2020 and offering commercially starting in 2023.
“We’ve built Uber Copter to provide us with insight and real-world experience as we continue to lay the foundation for Uber Air,” Eric Allison, head of Uber Elevate, said in a statement. “This is Uber’s first multi-modal option, integrating an eight-minute helicopter flight with an Uber trip on both ends.”
After the initial launch of Uber Copter in July, Uber will continue to expand availability over the following weeks and months—but no details were provided about what the expanded availability would entail.