United's latest attempt to draw travelers to Newark: Helicopters

Key Points
  • Newark is one of United's largest hubs.
  • The airline has aggressively marketed Newark as an alternative to New York's Kennedy International Airport.
  • The service began in mid-May and start around $2,100.
United Airlines planes at Newark Liberty International Airport
Leslie Josephs | CNBC

United Airlines has worked hard to convince travelers in the New York City area that the carrier's hub at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey isn't that far away.

On billboards and bus stops around New York, United incorporated Newark's airport code — EWR — into slogans like "FASTEWR" and "CLOSEWR." Last year, it started posting the commute times from Manhattan to Newark alongside those to John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens on digital displays on top of taxis to show a quicker trip to the New Jersey hub.

Now, the airline is offering an even faster mode of transportation for valuable travelers willing to pay for convenience: helicopters. United has partnered with helicopter operator HeliFlite to offer on-demand flights of less than 10 minutes from three Manhattan helipads to Newark.

The service, which started in mid-May, is the first helicopter transfer offered in United's network, said Robert Einhorn, a spokesman for the carrier. Passengers looking to save time on their commutes to or from Newark will be charged $2,099 for up to three travelers and $2,199 for up to six people. A car transfer to the terminal is included in the service, which United is selling on its website.

United isn't the only carrier enlisting helicopters to help high-paying customers beat gridlock to get to the airport on time. Rival Delta Air Lines last year launched a partnership with helicopter service Blade for transfers to JFK.

United has also been rolling out a series of perks and services as it chases premium-cabin passengers, including lounges that are exclusively for long-haul international business travelers and at Los Angeles International Airport, access to a private terminal.

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