This post provides an overview of the various helicopter tours in New York City, including reviews and tips for the best rides as well as tips for finding discounts and analyzed which New York helicopter tour is best, cheapest and best value.
There’s no denying that helicopter rides are costly. Even the most basic tour packages run well over $200 per person and usually only last 12-15 minutes (occasionally there are really great deals). Thus, for many, the price alone might mean that a helicopter tour just isn’t a feasible option.
Furthermore, if you are looking to take a helicopter to learn more about New York, then perhaps you should consider following other tours instead. The pilot is your guide during these tours, and though he or she will most often point out major landmarks to guests, his or her main job is to ensure the safety of everyone on board. Thus, content is usually very limited.
However, if you can afford the costs and are primarily interested in the unique visual experience of looking down at Manhattan and coming eye to eye with the Statue of Liberty, then a helicopter tour might be well worth the investment.
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 the 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 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. This may make it more difficult to see the sights while on your tour, so it could be beneficial to ensure that you join a tour with fewer people.
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) – $215 + ($40 airport fees)
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.
CitySights is offering a great value deal. A Liberty Big Apple Tour, 2 days of unlimited hop-on-hop-off bus tour service, 1-day hop-on-hop-off boat cruise as well as free entry to the 9/11 Tribute Center, the Museum of the City of New York and the New York Historical Society. Price: $244 for Adults and Children.
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.
Tours ARE weather dependent. If a tour is canceled, Liberty Helicopter Tours will try to accommodate a guest’s schedule to reserve a new time. If a time cannot be agreed upon, the guest will be fully reimbursed.
The helicopter can accommodate 5-6 guests plus 1 pilot.
Other than cameras, no personal items are allowed in the helicopter. Items can be left at the waiting area and lockers are available for rent at an additional fee.
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.
Many reviews indicate that this company is very accommodating and friendly. Some commentators have said that first-timers are welcome, as the staff will make sure to explain everything you need to know in order to have a safe and fun ride. 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.
The Classic Manhattan Tour (12 – 15 minutes)
Price: 214 for Adults and Children
Deluxe Manhattan Tour (20 minutes) Price: $289 for Adults and Children.
VIP Manhattan Tour (25 – 30 minutes)Price: $325 per person. Minimum 4 person to reserve
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. Most passengers have given glowing reviews to this company, with one guest going so far as to say it was “the best ride of my life.” Other reviewers suggested that they did not have to book their tour ahead of time in order to get in the air, which is definitely nice to know. That being said, you might want to consider booking in advance to avoid crowded trips.
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. Overall, there are many more positive reviews than negative, and a lot of people reported having a wonderful time on their journey through the skies of NYC.
New York Helicopter offers 3 popular public tours:
The Liberty Helicopter Tour (15 minutes) – $199 + ($30 airport fees)
Similar to the base level tours offered by the other companies, this tour includes the Statue of Liberty, Governor’s and Ellis Island, the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges, the South Street Seaport and the Wall Street Financial Center.
The Central Park Tour (19 minutes) – $266 + ($30 airport fees)
Covers all that is seen on the Liberty tour, but also features the Empire State Building, Central Park, the Intrepid Air, Sea, and Space Museum, Yankee Stadium, and the George Washington Bridge.
The Grand Helicopter Tour (25 minutes) – $355 + ($30 airport fees)
Covers all that is seen on the Central Park Tour, in addition to the Verrazano Bridge, uptown, midtown and the downtown skyline of Manhattan and New Jersey Palisades.
Need to Know
Tours ARE weather dependent. If a tour is canceled, New York Helicopter Tours will try to accommodate a guest’s schedule to reserve a new time. If a time cannot be agreed upon, the guest will be fully reimbursed.
The helicopter can accommodate 5-6 guests plus 1 pilot.
There is a $30 heliport fee in addition to the cost of the tour that is made payable at time of booking.
Photo I.D. is required for all guests.
HeliNY Tours / Helicopter Flight Service Helicopter Tours
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 Explorer Pass, you could save 20% – $45% off. 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!
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.
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 the heliport.