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I wasn't in California for long because I needed to head to New York for an important last-minute appointment. Surprisingly, tickets prices were much lower than I thought they'd be. If I was flexible, some airlines (Virgin America, American Airlines and Delta) offered fares as low as $164 one-way. I went with Delta because they give free space-available upgrades to their elite members. Unfortunately, space was not available but having an exit row and live satellite TV made the four-hour, 30-minute flight as easy as can be. To get into the city, I took AirTrain and the subway. It cost me a total of $7 and took an hour door to 7door, about the same amount of time as a taxi would have taken in mild traffic. Here's a link to detailed instructions on how to take the AirTrain (check out the last paragraph).
U.S. HELICOPTER & DELTA
Since I will be spending a lot of time in New York City this summer, I will tell you about my trip(s) in one upcoming newsletter. But the best part of this stay was going home. Delta arranged for me to try out their new helicopter service to and from JFK. It's operated by U.S. Helicopter, which used to offer it for American Airlines (here's that funny story I wrote two years ago). U.S. Helicopter is also partnered with Continental for passengers going to/from Newark.
WALL STREET HELIPORT
As everyone knows, getting to JFK can be a complete nightmare – you just never know how good or bad traffic will be and though AirTrain is inexpensive, it's a chore to navigate while lugging baggage. Well, thanks to U.S. Helicopter, nothing could possibly be any easier. U.S. Helicopter flies out of two NYC Heliports: East 34th Street (TSS) and Wall Street (JRB). To get to the latter, I jumped on the 5 Train from Grand Central (I could also have taken the 4 Train) and got off at the Wall Street stop. I walked six blocks through the heart of the money capital until I reached the river and then walked two blocks to the heliport. I had two small bags so it was easy but taking a taxi would have been even easier.
NYC TO JFK VIA HELICOPTER
At the heliport I checked in for my Delta flight to Los Angeles. It took 20 seconds and checking a bag would've added another 10 seconds. I then cleared what has to be the commercial aviation world's most secret, stress-free security checkpoint. There was no one around in the small building except for the two girls who checked me in and the three TSA agents working the checkpoint. Here, they have all the same safety measures as at an airport: laptops out, shoes off, no liquids ... except that everyone was relaxed and there was no tension in the air.
EIGHT MINUTES TO JFK
After I'd put my shoes back on, I could have sat in one of the leather seats in the small but nice gate area. But I didn't even need to sit down because I arrived 15 minutes before departure so once I cleared security, the other passenger and I had a quick safety briefing and then were escorted out to the plush Sikorsky S-76 dual-engine helicopter, which holds eight passengers and two pilots. The co-pilot greeted us and gave us another quick safety check, then shut the door. What's interesting about helicopters is that the pilot is on the right-hand side, not on the left like in an airplane. Within seconds, we were off and treated to a spectacular view of the New York City skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge. Even though I'm afraid of heights I didn't have an ounce of fear. Not even sweaty hands. That's how big, stable and comfortable this thing is. We arrived at JFK eight minutes later. That's right – it took just eight minutes! A shuttle picked us up and drove us 300 yards to Delta's terminal building. That was it – I was done. No more security, no more checking in. Talk about a stress-free trip to the airport. And on top of that, my Delta upgrade went through.
BTW: This helicopter service is not just for the super-rich. Prices begin at $159 each way, which is not much more than a premium car service. NOTE: US Helicopter does not operate on weekends, holidays or if there's low visibility. If the weather does get bad at the last minute, they will either refund your money or arrange a car service. To book your ticket, log on to either Delta.com or FlyUSHelicopter.com.
Here's a two-minute Johnny Jet video of my trip on the helicopter and I'm also linking to a video created by Delta's marketing guru, Brian Rutter. Plus, we also have all the Johnny Jet videos ever made on YouTube.
NEXT WEEK Next week we travel 5,000 miles to ... I'll give you a hint: 1989 was a watershed year for this city.
*If you heard about us somewhere else or have the link to the story please email Johnny Jet media and let us know where!
SOME OF LAST WEEK'S READER AIR-eMAIL
Another outstanding post that makes me want to visit Hong Kong NOW! Scott B - Mission Viejo, CA
We get this magazine called "The Week".
Basically a summary of the weeks' news. You had a mention in the Consumer/Leisure section on the best Internet sites for planning a trip. You were one of the 3 mentioned. Travelzoo.com & Farecast.com were the other two. Jeannette - Connecticut
Hi Johnny, I love your weekly updates/newsletters and have been a faithful reader for several years. I've been working in the travel industry for many years, and teach travel and trip planning classes through community education in several locations in the Midwest. I'd love to be a junior Johnny Jet someday. Thanks for your tips. Mary Ann C - Rochester, MN
Fantastic. Love your blog! Nancy D - Cherry Hill, N J
JJ, I leave for HKG on July 25, cant wait to take your tour! sfclipper -
Macau is one of the most god-awful places on earth.
The people are arrogant and mean. Prices are high. Service sucks. Stay away from Macau. Bob - University Park, FL REPLY: Wow! You must’ve gone there years ago. I had a completely opposite experience.
HKG your best video yet! Harvey M - Chicago, IL
As always, outstanding! As a traveler on a budget I appreciate your detailing prices for items, rooms, food, etc... as you go. It puts things in perspective as one man's "moderately priced" is another man's "way too expensive".
Not to take anything at all away from the great writing (love the down to Earth flair) the photos really add the punch. I, for one, can't get enough. You've got an ability to make the reader feel as though he's right there as he's reading. I was in Macau and HK last year and can't wait to get back. Your "report" made me start thinking about looking into a trip this year that I'd planned on putting off until next year. A bad influence. LOL
Please keep up the great work, Another CT boy who likes to keep moving. P.S. More Natalie pics would be good. She's stunning. Sorry, couldn't resist. Bill P - Berlin, CT
I live in western Canada, close to Calgary airport. Could you advertise specials from my destination? Especially to the U.K.? Thanks - The Deli Chef
I just read this weeks email and so enjoyed your passion for Hong Kong. It's so fun to find other places in the world that make you want to stay a while. I also appreciated all you did. I was there about five years ago for a very brief visit with my stepmother, we just shopped till we collapsed and then got foot massages. I read your article and thought: "Oh, that's what we could have done if we left the mall." Margot B – Los Angeles, CA
Always enjoy your reports, and find them helpful in choosing/planning trips. One suggestion: you give prices for everything else, so it would be very helpful to give room rates for the hotels.
Ray T - Mill Valley, CA
I simply love your newsletters. It makes me feel as if I am on the trips with you. I really enjoy receiving your newsletters each week. Thanks and happy travels. Carma – Waverly, Iowa
Fantastic. I would visit this area in a heartbeat. Kathy H - Olean, NY
Johnny the newsletter was eccelent but let's keep the political comments out of it.
Johnny – another fascinating trip to view in this week’s newsletter. Keep them coming – it’s great to travel all over the world with you and see such fascinating places as Hong Kong. I too want to visit and enjoy the sights. Many reminded me of one James Bond movie or another. Geof O’Connor - San Diego
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