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This post answers the question of how much is an NYC helicopter ride, including reviews and tips for the best rides as well as tips for finding discounts.
We have analyzed which New York helicopter tour is the best, the cheapest, and the best value. (leer en español)
How much a helicopter ride costs depends on the length of the ride, as most helicopter operators have a similar pricing structure.
For the most part, helicopter rides are divided into 3 options, a 15 min ride, a 20 min ride, or a 30 min ride.
The 15 min rides usually are limited to the NY Harbor and fly up a part of the Hudson River.
Your tour will include a fly around the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and you will be able to see most of Lower Manhattan including the Brooklyn Bridge and the World Trade Center.
As of 2020, the average full-price ticket for a 15-min ride is approximately $235, which includes the city tax (heliport fee) of approximately $35.
The 15-min rides are the ones most often discounted.
The 20-min helicopter rides usually follow the same route as the 15-min options but fly further north along the Hudson River, usually to Midtown and Central Park.
As of 2020, the average full-price ticket for a 20-min ride is approximately $290, which includes the city tax (heliport fee).
So, at full price, you are paying around an additional $50 for an extra 5 minutes in the air, but you will see a lot of Manhattan in that short time.
Likewise, the 30-min helicopter rides usually follow the same route as the 20-min options but fly even further north along the Hudson River.
They usually fly just past Harlem up to Yankee Stadium and the George Washington Bridge in the Bronx.
As of 2020, the average full-price ticket for a 30-min ride is approximately $380, which includes the city tax (heliport fee).
So, at full price, you are paying around an additional $140 for an extra 10 minutes in the air compared to the 15-min ride.
However, you will have flown the entire length of Manhattan Island
Before we explain the discounts that are generally available, a quick note.
The prices just described above are for helicopter flights departing from Lower Manhattan.
There are helicopter flights that depart from several New Jersey heliports that are sometimes significantly cheaper than the identical NYC departures.
These are options to consider, especially if you are staying in NJ.
The offers are often from NJ heliports and there are sometimes blackout dates, so read the deals carefully before purchasing.
Arguably, these are the best deals out there for helicopter rides, especially if you are already considering a double-decker bus tour.
These deals often include a 2-day hop-on-hop-off bus ticket, a boat cruise, and a night bus tour among other extras.
CitySights is offering a great value deal. A Liberty Big Apple Helicopter Tour and 2 days of unlimited hop-on, hop-off bus tour service for $249/Adult, and $239/Child. Use code “SAVE10” to get 10% even these prices.
A tourist discount pass option could also end up as a great deal. Tourist discount passes generally work by bundling together different tours, attractions, and activities into one discounted price.
The savings can be up to 55% off of full retail prices.
The New York Pass, for example, offers 15% on either the Liberty Big Apple Tour or the New York, New York Tour from Liberty Helicopters.
These services are $249-$299 respectively, so you can expect to pay $211-$254 with this discount.
Read our post on whether or not a New York Pass is worth buying.
You’ll also find most companies have military and first responder discounts but you will need to contact each company to inquire about them.
There are several helicopter tour companies with names so similar, it can easily get confusing. All of the companies have similar review profiles, which are generally good.
The experience of flying over the Big Apple is so fun, most people are happy with their experiences.
However, we provide links to each companies reviews, so that you can take a closer look for yourself. Also, we list the companies in order of lowest to highest price.
NOTE: No helicopter flights are permitted on Sundays.
There is one common thread you will see when it comes to complaints about helicopter tours: overcrowding and weight distribution problems.
Due to the way that this aircraft functions, it can sometimes be important to make sure that there is not too much weight on one side.
Because of this, you will most likely be asked to provide information about your weight before boarding, and you may also be asked to sit in a location you are not comfortable with.
The more crowded a helicopter tour is, the more likely you will be asked to sit in the middle.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to enjoy the views from the middle seat of a helicopter, so most people in this position report having a negative experience.
In order to avoid these issues, make sure to call ahead and ask the tour company about which times would be best for obtaining a window seat.
As you will see with most of the helicopter tours, this outfit has overall good reviews.
Although there aren’t many negative reviews, some comments note that passengers may be asked to sit in the middle of the aircraft in order to avoid problems with weight distribution.
That being said, most visitors have had an absolute blast with Liberty Helicopter Tours, and many reviewers have raved about the great views of NYC!
While it’s listed price is not the lowest on offer, with the deals available, particularly the CitySightNY deal, the Big Apple Tour is the lowest priced. There are 2 popular public tours offered.
The Big Apple (12-15 minutes) – $249 (includes security fee)
This popular tour provides a bird’s eye view of the most famous sites in New York City.
Some of the landmarks covered include Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, Freedom Tower, Empire State Building, Chrysler, Woolworth, Met Life Buildings, USS Intrepid, and Central Park. Purchase here.
New York, New York (18-20 minutes) – $299 + ($35 airport fees)
Very similar to the Big Apple tour, but with an additional few sites including The Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge, The Verrazano Bridge, George Washington Bridge, Yankee Stadium, and MetLife Stadium.
Need to Know
Manhattan Helicopters also enjoys a 4 ½ out of 5-stars rating on TripAdvisor, with some guests describing their experience as amazing.
As with most of these excursions, the only common complaints focus on crowded tours, which do not appear to happen very often.
According to reviewers, the pilots are very experienced, so you can rest assured that your trip will be stress-free.
Its tours are not the lowest priced tours, but like Liberty, the CitySights deal is also available for this company.
This company’s base tour is actually the least expensive ($23 cheaper) if you are not purchasing a combination or tourist attraction discount pass.
In addition, their 4 ½ star rating on TripAdvisor is just as good as every other service on this list.
Once again, the issue of weight distribution is a common complaint, but there isn’t much that any helicopter tour can do to avoid this problem.
New York Helicopter offers 3 popular public tours:
Need to Know
This outfit is a little bit more expensive than the other options, but they state that they use newer and more expensive helicopters. They are well-reviewed, but as we stated before, all the companies have relatively good reviews.
With the Smart Destinations Build-Your-Own tourist attraction pass, you could save 15-20%.
Reviewers describe their staff as attentive and helpful, providing passengers with all of the information necessary to enjoy their trip.
Other comments suggest that Helicopter Flight Services is highly organized and that their pilots are very experienced. Most of the negative reviews complain of overcrowded trips, which may be avoided if you book your tour in advance.
Despite the higher costs, hundreds of guests have said that this helicopter ride is well worth the money. Some reviewers suggested that you make sure to bring a camera with you in order to get your money’s worth in fantastic photographs of New York City!
There are 4 popular public tours offered:
The New Yorker Tour (12-15 minutes) – $234/person + ($35 airport fees).
You will travel up the Hudson River and see iconic landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Freedom Tower, Chrysler Building, Empire State Building, Chelsea Piers, and the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum.
The Ultimate Tour (18-20 minutes) – $284 + ($35 airport fees).
This tour includes all the sites covered in the New Yorker Tour, in addition to views of Yankee Stadium, Central Park, Columbia University, and George Washington Bridge.
The Deluxe Tour (25-30 minutes) – $374 + ($35 airport fees).
This tour includes all the sites covered in the Ultimate Tour, in addition to Coney Island, Brooklyn and New Jersey, Grants Tomb, the Northern edge of Manhattan, and Verrazano Bridge.
Need to Know
All helicopter rides depart from the Downtown Manhattan Heliport at the southern tip of Lower Manhattan between South Street Seaport and the Staten Island Ferry Terminal.
It is accessed within a short walking distance to many subway lines. We recommend using this Google map to get directions to the heliport.