Cookies help us to deliver our services. By using our website, you agree to our use of cookies. By using our website, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn more.

Manhattan Helicopter Flights

Flying over Manhattan and enjoying a bird's eye view of its buildings is an experience you have to do at least once in your life.

Alex Grande

Alex Grande

9 min read

Manhattan Helicopter Flights

Views of Manhattan from the helicopter | ©Hellotickets

Taking a helicopter ride over New York is definitely the experience you have to tell about when you return from your trip to New York. Get ready to admire the city's majestic skyscrapers from their very height and fly over the Big Apple.

Most tours last about 15 minutes, but there are some differences between them. I'll tell you all about them to make it easier for you to choose the one that's right for you.

The most economical flight

Essential Itinerary: Statue of Liberty to Central Park

A bird's-eye view of Manhattan at the best price

Perfect if you want to enjoy the exclusive experience of flying over Manhattan by helicopter without breaking the bank. You will see the Brooklyn Bridge, the New York Skyline and the Statue of Liberty.

Duration: 15 minutes

This is the short option of the New York City helicopter tour, although it includes all the main points of interest in Manhattan. The flight departs from the Downtown heliport and will take you to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. You will have spectacular views of Ground Zero, the One World Observatory and Manhattan's most popular skyscrapers, such as the Empire State Building.

You will also see Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bridge, which you will see up close.

Why I like this tour: On this tour you will see the essential points of Manhattan and although it may seem a little shorter, you will not miss anything.

Recommended if... you want to enjoy the experience without spending too much.


The complete flight

New York Manhattan Scenic Helicopter Tour

Extend your trip a bit longer to get into Manhattan

The best option to enjoy a more complete tour in which you will fly over the Hudson up to the height of Times Square and the famous Madison Square Garden.

Duration: 20 minutes

If you don't mind spending a little more, this is the best value for money itinerary, as you will be able to enjoy the sights of New York at your leisure. In 20 minutes, you will have time to make the round trip around Manhattan via Madison Square Garden. You will reach the height of Times Square, which will give you a better view of Central Park, the Chrysler Building and other areas of Midtown.

Please note that for safety reasons, the helicopter cannot fly between Manhattan buildings, so the tour follows the Hudson River. Still, the views are breathtaking.

Why I like this tour: The 20-minute ride will give you more time to savor the experience and allow you to get closer to the most important sights of Midtown.

Recommended if... you want to enjoy the experience and don't mind spending a little more.


The VIP flight

VIP Itinerary: Staten Island to Washington Bridge

New York in full view from the helicopter

If you are one of those who think that this is a once in a lifetime experience, this is the most complete itinerary you will find. You will see the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and of course, Manhattan.

Duration: 30 minutes

This is the longest helicopter tour in existence. The tour will take you over almost all of New York City. You will depart from the Downtown heliport and reach the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. You will then fly over the entire Manhattan skyline, reaching the north of the island and also spotting Queens and the Bronx.

Then you will continue the route to Brooklyn, where you will enjoy the spectacular views of the Brooklyn Bridge and reach Staten Island. Incredible, isn't it?

Why I like this tour: On this tour you will have plenty of time to enjoy the experience, identify the main skyscrapers and savor the details of the aerial view of what is probably the most spectacular flight on the planet.

Recommended if... you want to get the most out of your flight and comb all areas of the city.



Why is it worth taking a helicopter tour over New York?

Flying over the Statue of Liberty| ©Hellotickets
Flying over the Statue of Liberty| ©Hellotickets

The city skyline is a spectacle in itself, even more so from a helicopter flight over New York. Moreover, it is a unique experience, in which the wonderful views come together with the adrenaline of flying in a helicopter over New York at more than 200 kilometers per hour.

Information about helicopter flights in New York City

Views of Manhattan over the Hudson River| ©Hellotickets
Views of Manhattan over the Hudson River| ©Hellotickets

Helicopter model

The helicopter used by most operators for the New York helicopter tour is the Eurocopter/Airbus AS350B2, recognizable by its red color. Extended duration and VIP tours use the Bell 206L4 and Bell 407GX.

Operators

Most tours work with two operators: Liberty Helicopters and Zip Aviation. Both companies have passed strict safety certifications and apply them to all their experiences, which vary only in duration and route. These are closed helicopter flights in which you will not be able to lean out of the window or get out of the aircraft at any time.

Security

All the helicopter tours that I have recommended are perfectly safe, and I have made sure that they are organized by operators that have a series of safety certificates.

Tours

It is important to note that on the helicopter flight in New York, you will not fly over buildings. All routes follow the Hudson River and some follow the East River to give you panoramic views of the city, but in no case will you see the skyscrapers up close.

What you should know before booking

Empire State Building views from the air| ©Hellotickets
Empire State Building views from the air| ©Hellotickets

How are the seats distributed on the flight?

Seats are assigned according to the weight of the passengers, which must be evenly distributed in the helicopter. They will not be definitive until the moment of the flight, as each person's belongings must be taken into account. For this reason, you cannot choose your seat on the flight, although you can communicate your preference to the operator.

How many people can fit in a helicopter?

5 to 6 people, not including the pilot. Tour operators can organize groups of up to 9 people, and make a distribution in two groups at the time of the helicopter flight over New York.

How does the reservation work?

Flying over Manhattan| ©Hellotickets
Flying over Manhattan| ©Hellotickets

When you book, you purchase a voucher that is valid for the duration of your stay in New York and has an indicative date and time. Once you are in New York, you will need to reconfirm with the operator by calling their US number (which will appear on your voucher).

Once you purchase your voucher, you will be given instructions on how to set the date and time of your tour with the operator. If you have any problems or do not speak the language, Hellotickets can contact the operator and confirm for you.

How do I contact the operator?

You can do this from the hotel or contact Hellotickets to do it for you. Therefore, I recommend that you make the reservation for the first day you arrive in New York, and then set the date that suits you best with the operator. This way, you will have a margin to do the tour in case of bad weather.

Can I choose the time of the flight?

For most flights, once you have booked, you confirm with the operator a day and they will suggest a time. If it doesn't suit you, you can talk to the operator to change it if other options are available.

What is the best time for a helicopter flight in New York?

Views of Central Park from the helicopter| ©Hellotickets
Views of Central Park from the helicopter| ©Hellotickets

It depends on the view you want to get. If you want to see New York's buildings in all their splendor, and see the city expand to the horizon, try to get a time close to noon. If you want to see the city covered in sunset light and the first evening lights, try to pick a time at the end of the day. Normally, tours are not offered beyond 8:00 pm.

Alex's Traveller Tip

For all helicopter experiences, without exception, you will have to pay an extra fee at the heliport, which is always $40 per person.

Organize your helicopter flight in New York City

Views of the Statue of Liberty from the flight| ©Hellotickets
Views of the Statue of Liberty from the flight| ©Hellotickets

Where do helicopter flights in New York depart from?

Helicopter tours depart from the heliport located in Downtown Manhattan, at the southernmost point of Manhattan. You will recognize the place by the constant noise of helicopters taking off and landing, and the ones you will see flying around, plus it is quite well signposted.

What time should I arrive at the heliport?

The best thing to do is to be there 15 minutes before your flight time, to have everything ready in advance, and most importantly, to feel the nerves before getting on the helicopter!

What can I take with me on the tour?

All bags and backpacks are stored in lockers, so don't take anything too big or valuable. Take your passport, the $40 per person heliport fee, and about $5 for the locker. You can ride in the helicopter with your phone and camera.

What documentation do I need?

You will need to bring your passport and present it before boarding the helicopter. This is a must, so be sure to bring it!

Can I ask for pictures of my tour?

Most operators offer a photo service with photos of what you will see from the helicopter and a photo at the heliport.

Where to eat after the flight

Manhattan Cafeteria| ©Hellotickets
Manhattan Cafeteria| ©Hellotickets

Since none of the tours include food and the helicopter flight over Manhattan can make you a little hungry, here are a few recommended restaurants near the heliport:

  • Thunder Bun - a 5 minute walk from the Downtown heliport, and if you're looking for fast food like burgers or sandwiches but with style, this is the place for you.
  • Pranzo Pizza & Pasta - a neighborhood restaurant where you can find the classic New York pizza slice, pasta, and Italian-style sandwiches.
  • Mad Dog & Beans - a Mexican food restaurant known for its friendly waiters, guacamole, and generous portions, and is only 7 minutes from the heliport.
  • Leo's Bagels - the perfect choice if you're flying the helicopter around noontime, as you can stop by for a pastrami brunch, egg sandwich, or typical New York bagel.

Latest tips

Helicopter pilot| ©Hellotickets
Helicopter pilot| ©Hellotickets

You are probably thinking about taking pictures to immortalize your helicopter trip, so to get the perfect picture keep in mind that you will be in constant movement and the helicopter is not entirely stable, so you will need a fast shutter speed on your camera (more than 250/1).

Also, increase the aperture as much as you can and raise the ISO (from 400 to 3200) as the day goes on. You'll have some noise in your photos, but in return, you'll capture New York's buildings clearly.

If you don't want to complicate things, use the Sport mode on your camera or cell phone to avoid taking blurry photos.

Now you know all the details about how to take a helicopter ride in New York...now, let's enjoy the experience!

Frequently asked questions

  • What is the best time of day to fly in a helicopter over New York?

    The New York skyline is breathtaking whatever the time of day. That said, photographers who have not flown with a camera before should choose a daytime flight to take advantage of the light, while more experienced photographers will be able to take pictures of the New York sunset as the city slowly begins to light up.

  • Why should I provide information about my weight?

    Most helicopter operators will ask for your weight in order to calculate the weight distribution in the helicopter and balance the flight.

  • How long do helicopter flights last and what is the best option?

    Helicopter flights last between 15 and 30 minutes, with 15-minute flights being the cheapest. Fortunately, 15 minutes is more than enough time to enjoy breathtaking views of New York from the sky and feel the adrenaline rush of flying in a helicopter.

  • Does the helicopter fly between skyscrapers?

    One thing you should know is that helicopters can NOT fly over the space between skyscrapers. All tours go around Manhattan flying over the Hudson River, which makes it much safer.