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October 21st, 2019 at 12:28 pm

We pit the Uber Copter vs. public transit in a race to JFK — here’s who won

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One is a bumpy, deafening and slightly nauseating way to get to John F. Kennedy Airport — the other is public transportation.

The Post put Uber’s new helicopter shuttle to JFK to the test, racing the car-sharing company and its chopper from Midtown to the hub against old-fashioned New York City Transit — which proved three minutes swifter at a sliver of the price.

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Starting from the paper’s Midtown headquarters at 1:15 p.m. Friday, two reporters competed to be the first to reach the airport’s new TWA Hotel.

The chopper contestant pre-booked an Uber Copter flight, which justifies its price point — $200 to $225, depending on the time of day — by promising a six-minute flight to JFK.

But first, the journalist had to grab a ride-share to Lower Manhattan, as the service only picks up south of Houston Street.

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Slowed by midday traffic, the hardly flying Uber took 24 minutes — and cost $30.67, before tip — to reach Spring Street brunch mainstay Balthazar, where the reporter caught a second Uber to the heliport.

That 13-minute ride brought the skybound scribe to the heliport near the South Street Seaport, where a trio of sleek, Uber-branded Bell 430s sat ready to fly.

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The Uber Helicopter that picked up reporter Elizabeth Rosner. Robert Miller

But first, the reporter and other fliers-to-be had to sit through a two-minute safety video.

When the Uber Copter finally took off at 2:25 p.m., the ride was rocky and, without an offer of any ear protection, louder than the rumble of any rocketing subway train.

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The views of Brooklyn and Queens below were gorgeous, but the pilot did little to play up the amenity, not calling out any landmarks and ignoring attempts to engage him in conversation.

The flight, however, lived up to its promise of a six-minute trip, touching down at JFK at 2:31 p.m., and allowing our reporter to take a final Uber to the agreed-upon finish line at 2:40 p.m., or one hour and 25 minutes after leaving Midtown.

Meanwhile, the rail-riding contestant’s trip began with an admittedly lucky break, swiping into Rockefeller Center for $2.75 and catching a Queens-bound F train right as it screeched up to the platform.

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Though the mostly empty train had some of the MTA’s signature “charms” — an unidentified sticky substance on the floor, a fellow straphanger loudly talking to himself — the ride was largely smooth.

The journalist sweated out a six-minute wait on a steamy platform at Forest Hills-71st Avenue to transfer to the E train, which finished off the MTA’s leg of the trip to the Sutphin Boulevard-Archer Avenue-JFK Airport stop.

A $5 ride on the Port Authority-run JFK AirTrain got the reporter to Terminal 5 by 2:25 p.m., right as the Uber Copter was taking to the sky in Lower Manhattan.

A leisurely, 12-minute stroll from the terminal to the TWA Hotel got the reporter there by 2:37 p.m., or three minutes before her Uber-using counterpart rolled up.

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Uber contended that the copter service is only intended for customers already in Lower Manhattan, so a traveler starting off there would have beaten the subway.

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“We are excited to bring Uber Copter to all Uber riders so they can experience our first iteration of aerial ridesharing,” said Eric Allison, head of Uber Elevate, in a Thursday statement announcing the public launch of Uber Copter.

“We built this multimodal app experience to take riders between ground and air transportation so that five passengers can have perfectly timed, fully-integrated journeys.”

But the reporter testing it out declined a return Uber Copter flight to Manhattan — still feeling a bit queasy from the first ride.

Via NY Post

 

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