Friday, May 26, 2017

BLADE: Skip the traffic. Enjoy the view.

Business Insider
Madeline Stone

Getting to the Hamptons can be a real drag, especially over big holiday weekends like Memorial Day.

Blade, an aviation startup cofounded by former Sony and Warner Music Group exec Rob Wiesenthal and GroupMe cofounder Steve Martocci, aims to make it a little easier on you.

Blade uses an app to crowdsource flights on helicopters and seaplanes that you can book seats on in an instant. Rather than have you spend hours on a slow train or in a cramped car, Blade's flights promise to get you out to the Hamptons in under 40 minutes.

Though Blade started out with flights to the Hamptons, which remains its most popular destination, the startup has expanded to offer flights in many weekend getaway spots, including Nantucket, the Jersey Shore, and around different parts of Los Angeles. You can even snag a seat on a helicopter going to one of the New York area airports, a five-minute ride the company calls Blade Bounce.

Tickets range from $494 to $695 for a trip from Manhattan to the Hamptons, Blade's most popular destination. For a few hundred dollars more, you can do a custom charter flight to a destination of your choice, and you can even choose to fly on a faster aircraft if you'd like. A one-way ticket on Blade One, the company's private jet service from New York to Miami, costs about $2,200.

Socialites, celebrities, and elite business-people are catching on — Laura Prepon, Jon Hamm, and Olivia Palermo are just a few of the big names that have been spotted in one of Blade's luxury lounges in Manhattan. The company's investors include Kenneth Lerer, Discovery Communications' David Zaslav, Google's Eric Schmidt, IAC's Barry Diller, and iHeart Media's Bob Pittman.

Blade treated us to a trip to the Hamptons on a late summer evening in 2015. Here's how lots of wealthy New Yorkers will be getting out to the Hamptons this summer.

He added: "It was the golden age of aviation — the '60s to early '70's, the Jack Kennedy, Frank Sinatra era — when getting on a jet plane was a big deal and an adventure. Not everybody did it. And there was always a story attached to it."

The company has also introduced a weekend service that can take customers between Sag Harbor and Shelter Island by Riva-style boat, which costs $95 a seat, as well as partnerships for various events like Coachella.

In April, it announced a partnership with Delta Air Lines to streamline the transfer process for passengers flying in and out of New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. Delta passengers arriving to JFK, including from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and London, can arrange to be met on the jet bridge by Delta's Elite Services team, who will gather their checked luggage and bring them to an awaiting Blade car on the tarmac. That car then brings them to a Blade helicopter, which will get them to Manhattan in less than 10 minutes.

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