United Airlines is now offering exclusive transfer service for business class travelers - a 10-minute helicopter from downtown Manhattan to Newark International Airport. The new first-class service, however, comes at a price - $2,099 to be exact for up to three passengers plus an extra $100 more for up to six travelers. The price also includes car transport to the helicopter terminal. The new airport transfer service will save busy travelers the usual hour-and-a-half train or forty-five-minute car trip.
The move comes as United attempts to direct excess air traffic from JFK to Newark. The airline has partnered with HeliFlite to provide transfer service from three different Manhattan helipads, located at East 34th, West 30th and Wall Street, to Newark Liberty International Airport. Delta Air Lines afford travelers a similar service from Manhattan to John F. Kennedy International Airport. The helicopter service is aimed at United Premier Platinum, United Premier 1K, or business class travelers in the Star Alliance, such as Lufthansa, Air Canada, and Singapore Airlines, among others.
In the past year, United Airlines has been attempting to attract higher paying customers with exclusive services, including the new private terminal at the Los Angeles International Airport for business class passengers, as well as VIP airport lounges for long-haul business class travelers. According to Investopedia, “First-class and business tickets may cost as much as 10 times the price of coach tickets. Business travelers account for 12 percent of passengers but are typically twice as profitable for airlines. On some flights, business passengers represent 75 percent of an airline's profits.”
The exclusive HeliFlite fleet operates executive-class, twin-engine helicopters with two pilots, including 10 Leonardo AW139s, four Bell 530s, four Sikorsky S-76s and a Bell 429. HeliFlite passengers can enjoy “specially curated wines, premium spirits, craft beer selections and handcrafted cocktails.”
Once at Newark, business class travelers can enjoy the new 27,000-square-foot VIP Polaris lounge, which features daybeds with Saks Fifth Avenue linens, showers, and a gourmet menu that includes buffet items and dishes like polenta fries and braised lamb. United has opened Polaris lounges at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago and San Francisco International Airport and plans to open a Polaris lounge at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston this summer and at Los Angeles International Airport in the fall.
According to United Airlines spokesperson Robert Einhorn, "We anticipate the opening of the new Polaris lounge will alleviate crowding at the other United Clubs as United Polaris business class customers now have a dedicated location to visit.”