Uber is a modest company with modest goals. It simply wants to change how people get around and also get New Yorkers from Manhattan to John F. Kennedy Airport in less than half an hour. I’m still not entirely sure how it plans to accomplish the former, but Uber’s plan for the latter is pretty straightforward. Choppers.
The flying kind, not the motorcycle kind, that is. The motorcycle kind would, of course, be much better and leathery.
Yes, Uber has officially launched Uber Copter, a helicopter service from lower Manhattan to JFK, TechCrunch reports. No, you can’t take the helicopter; they’re reserved for Platinum and Diamond members of Uber’s reward program. That means you’ll have to rack up at least 2,500 points, or $834 in Uber Black fares or $1,250 in UberX/Uber fares, before you can have the pleasure of booking a helicopter.
The chopper rides start at around $200 per person, TechCrunch reports. Meanwhile, The Verge says Uber “hopes that Uber Copter will bring total transport times between NYC and JFK down to as little as half an hour,” including the time it takes to get to the helipad, load into the helicopter, take off, and land at JFK.
If this sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because there is another company, Blade, that offers helicopter rides from Manhattan to JFK for $200 per person. If there’s anything that best summarizes the current late-stage version of capitalism, it is that rich people now have two options for on-demand helicopter services from Manhattan to JFK.
How much faster is this than the other, non-helicopter options? A cab from anywhere in Manhattan to JFK is a flat $65 fare. At this exact moment in time (11:07 a.m. EST on a Thursday) Google Maps says the drive from the helipad to JFK would take 38 minutes, which is more or less your best case scenario. The height of p.m. rush would obviously look very different:
Meanwhile, it takes about an hour to get to JFK via public transportation from pretty much anywhere in Manhattan, whether one chooses the Long Island Railroad from Penn Station or the A train.
But, let’s face it: if you’re an Uber Platinum or Diamond member, you probably consider yourself too good for public transportation. In order to opt for the $200 service to save a half hour of your time, that means you value your time at $400 an hour. I’m sure there are lots of people who work in the financial district who value their time at much more than that. I would never dare speak to those people, though, because I am surely not worth their time.