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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

Jun 12, 2021 • 10 min read

Manhattan Helicopter Flights

Views of Manhattan from the helicopter | ©Hellotickets

A helicopter ride over Manhattan is the experience you will be dying to tell your friends about as soon as you return home from your trip to New York City. Take to the skies to admire the city's majestic skyscrapers and fly over the Big Apple.

Which helicopter tour should I choose?

Most tours last about 15 minutes, but there are some differences between them. Let me tell you all about them to make it easier for you to choose the right one for you.

1. Essential itinerary: from Statue of Liberty to Central Park

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

This is the short option of the New York helicopter tour, which includes all the main sights of Manhattan but will surely leave you wanting more. On the other hand, it is the most economical option.

What you will see

  1. Downtown Heliport
  2. Ellis Island
  3. Statue of Liberty
  4. Governors Island
  5. Ground Zero and One World Observatory
  6. Brooklyn Bridge
  7. Empire State Building
  8. Madison Square Garden
  9. Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Building
  10. Times Square and MetLife Building
  11. Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
  12. Central Park
  13. Washington Bridge

2. Extended itinerary: from Statue of Liberty to Madison Square Garden

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

The best value-for-money itinerary, as it lets you enjoy the sights of New York at your leisure. In a 20-minute experience, you will fly over Manhattan in a helicopter round trip from Statue of Liberty to Madison Square Garden.

What you will see

  1. Downtown Heliport
  2. Ellis Island
  3. Statue of Liberty
  4. Governors Island
  5. Ground Zero and One World Observatory
  6. Brooklyn Bridge
  7. Empire State Building
  8. Madison Square Garden
  9. Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Building
  10. Times Square and MetLife Building
  11. Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
  12. Central Park
  13. Washington Bridge

3. Complete New York itinerary

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

The complete helicopter flight over New York is an experience where in addition to riding a helicopter around Manhattan, you will fly over Brooklyn as part of the itinerary reaching the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

What you will see

  1. Downtown Heliport
  2. Ellis Island
  3. Statue of Liberty
  4. Governors Island
  5. Ground Zero and One World Observatory
  6. Brooklyn Bridge
  7. Empire State Building
  8. Madison Square Garden
  9. Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Building
  10. Times Square and MetLife Building
  11. Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
  12. Central Park
  13. Washington Bridge
  14. Verrazano-Narrows Bridge
  15. Manhattan Bridge

4. VIP itinerary: from Staten Island to Washington Bridge

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

This is the ultimate VIP helicopter tour of New York City. In its extended duration, you'll see every borough of the city, including the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and of course Manhattan.

What you'll see

  1. Downtown Heliport
  2. Ellis Island
  3. Statue of Liberty
  4. Governors Island
  5. Ground Zero and One World Observatory
  6. Brooklyn Bridge
  7. Empire State Building
  8. Madison Square Garden
  9. Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Building
  10. Times Square and MetLife Building
  11. Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
  12. Central Park
  13. Washington Bridge
  14. Verrazano-Narrows Bridge
  15. Manhattan Bridge
  16. Williamsburg Bridge
  17. South Street Seaport
  18. Queensboro Bridge

5. Comparative chart of the different itineraries

  • Essential Itinerary: Statue of Liberty to Central Park (Multilingual)
  • From $ 191
  • 15 minutes
  • Downtown Heliport
  • Ellis Island
  • Statue of Liberty
  • Governors Island
  • Ground Zero and One World Observatory
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Empire State Building
  • Madison Square Garden
  • Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Building
  • Times Square and MetLife Building
  • Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
  • Central Park
  • Washington Bridge
  • Buy
  • Extended Itinerary: Statue of Liberty to Madison Square Garden
  • From $ 287
  • 20 minutes
  • Downtown Heliport
  • Ellis Island
  • Statue of Liberty
  • Governors Island
  • Ground Zero and One World Observatory
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Empire State Building
  • Madison Square Garden
  • Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Building
  • Times Square and MetLife Building
  • Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
  • Central Park
  • Washington Bridge
  • Buy
  • Helicopter Tour: Complete New York
  • From $ 0
  • 20 minutes
  • Downtown Heliport
  • Ellis Island
  • Statue of Liberty
  • Governors Island
  • Ground Zero and One World Observatory
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Empire State Building
  • Madison Square Garden
  • Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Building
  • Times Square and MetLife Building
  • Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
  • Central Park
  • Washington Bridge
  • Verrazano-Narrows Bridge
  • Manhattan Bridge
  • Buy
  • VIP Itinerary: Staten Island to Washington Bridge
  • From $ 360
  • 30 minutes
  • Downtown Heliport
  • Ellis Island
  • Statue of Liberty
  • Governors Island
  • Ground Zero and One World Observatory
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Empire State Building
  • Madison Square Garden
  • Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Building
  • Times Square and MetLife Building
  • Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
  • Central Park
  • Washington Bridge
  • Verrazano-Narrows Bridge
  • Manhattan Bridge
  • Williamsburg Bridge
  • South Street Seaport
  • Queensboro Bridge
  • Buy

6. Information about helicopter flights in New York City

Minutes before boarding the helicopter | ©Hellotickets
Minutes before boarding the helicopter | ©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 the full normative to all their flights, 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.

Safety

All the helicopter tours that I have recommended are perfectly safe, and I have made sure that they are organized by operators that hold 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 offer you panoramic views of the city, but in no case will you see the skyscrapers up close.

7. What you should know before booking

Views of the Empire State Building from the air | ©Hellotickets
Views of the Empire State Building from the air | ©Hellotickets

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

The city's skyline is very spectacular, even more so from a helicopter flight over New York. Moreover, it is a unique experience, in which the wonderful views go hand in hand with the adrenaline of flying in a helicopter over New York at more than 124 miles per hour.

How are the seats distributed on the flight?

Seats are assigned according to the weight of the passengers, which should 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 state your preference to the operator.

How many people can fit in a helicopter?

5 to 6 people, not including the pilot. The 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?

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 contacting the operator, Hellotickets can do it for you and confirm with you the details of your experience.

How do you 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 be able to choose between different days to do the tour and avoid bad weather.

Can I choose my flight time?

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?

It depends on the views you want to see. 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.

8. Get organized for 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 the helicopter flights depart from in New York?

Helicopter tours depart from the heliport located in Downtown Manhattan, at the southernmost point of Manhattan. You'll recognize the place by the constant noise of helicopters taking off and landing, and the ones you'll see flying around, plus the location it's pretty well indicated with signs.

  • Address: 6 E River Bikeway, New York, NY 10004
  • Nearest subway: Whitehall St
  • Located on the East River, south of the Brooklyn Bridge.

What time should I arrive at the heliport?

It's best to be there 15 minutes before your flight time, so you have everything ready in advance, and most importantly start feeling the adrenaline flow before you get 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 in change for the locker. You can bring your phone and camera to the helicopter ride.

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 leave you feeling a little hungry, here are a few recommended restaurants near the heliport:

  • Thunder Bun - a 5-minute walk from the Downtown Heliport, where you can order stylish fast food-like burgers and sandwiches.
  • 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.

10. Helicopter flight in New York City with the New York Pass

Views of Manhattan from the helicopter | ©Hellotickets
Views of Manhattan from the helicopter | ©Hellotickets

If you are thinking about which sightseeing pass to choose on your visit to New York and you want to take the helicopter tour of New York, you will be interested in knowing that the New York Pass gives you a 15% discount on the Essential Itinerary: from Statue of Liberty to Central Park experience. Plus, the pass includes the following attractions perfect for a complete tour of New York:

  • Sightseeing bus ticket through the main areas of New York
  • Ferry tickets to Liberty Island, where the Statue of Liberty is located
  • Tickets to the Top of the Rock, Empire State Building, or One World Observatory
  • Tickets to the 9/11 Memorial and the 9/11 Museum
  • Tickets for the Natural History Museum
  • MoMA tickets
  • Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum tickets
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art tickets
  • Madame Tussauds New York tickets

Alex's Traveller Tip

Book your helicopter flight for the first few days of your trip, which will give you more flexibility when re-confirming the date of your experience.

11. A few useful tips

Helicopter pilot | ©Hellotickets
Helicopter pilot | ©Hellotickets

You are probably thinking about taking pictures to immortalize your helicopter ride, so to get the perfect shot to keep in mind that you will be in constant motion and the helicopter is not entirely stable. This means that to avoid blurry pictures you will need a fast shutter speed on your camera (over 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 will have some noise in your photos, but in return, you will capture New York's buildings with sharpness.

If you don't want to over-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...go enjoy this amazing experience!

Frequently asked questions

  • When is the best time to take a helicopter flight in New York?

    New York's skyline is impressive whatever the time of day. That being said, first-time aerial photographers may want to fly during the day to take advantage of the light, while more experienced photographers may want to take advantage of the setting sun and NYC lit up at night.

  • Why do I have to give my weight?

    You're asked your weight so most helicopter operators use this to help when arranging your seat and balancing the helicopter.

  • How long are Helicopter flights and what's the best option?

    Helicopter flights start from 15 min to 30 min per flight, with 15 min being the cheapest. Fortunately, 15 min is a suitable amount to see many of New York's best sights from above and feel that adrenaline rush that comes from flying in a helicopter.

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