The Big City Tour was purchased for my husband and I as a wedding present. We made contact with Zip on arrival in Manhattan last weekend, scheduled our flight for Monday 29 October and got on with enjoying the rest of our itinerary in the mean time. It was a couple of days later that Hurricane Sandy decided to join us. Zip called me on my mobile to ask if we could postpone the flight by a couple of days, we said no as we were due to leave NYC on Wednesday, so they brought the flight forward to Sunday with no fuss or bother.
We arrived at the heliport at our newly allotted time, were welcomed by friendly staff, given a safety briefing and were in the air on time, despite the storm moving into the city and the conditions getting notably colder and windier. This all added to the experience to be honest.
Our pilot Jeff was friendly and knowledgeable without overdoing the tour guide spiel - he took time to point out the less obvious or less well known landmarks which made for an interesting flight. The flight was smooth and comfortable, and lasted for about 20 minutes.
I don't know how much was paid for the experience, as it was a gift, so it's difficult for me to measure value for money and make any kind of comparison to Zip's competitors. What I can do is give you an honest appraisal of the service we received, which was excellent, professional and friendly. We both felt very safe and will remember this as the experience of a lifetime, the biggest highlight of our Honeymoon without a doubt.
Things you should you know:
- You need to pay $30 per person heliport charge, in addition to the tour cost, on arrival at the heliport.
- The Heliport is conveniently located about a 5 minute walk from Whitehall Street subway station at the Staten Island Ferry terminal.
- There are lockers available for $2 as you can't take anything other than a camera with you on the flight.
- You are allocated a seat based on your weight and that of all passengers on your particular flight - we didn't get to specify window or front seats for example.
- You are each strapped into a safety floatation belt before you board the helicopter - no need to worry about parachutes etc.
- They take your photograph stood outside the helicopter before you fly, which you can purchase after your flight. We bought one for $20, but as we hadn't paid for the flight we didn't mind treating ourselves. I would normally hesitate to buy such 'theme park' style photographs as I think they're a rip-off. I have to say, I'm really glad we bought it and can share it with our family who paid for the trip, and perhaps it's one of those occasions when you pay the going rate because you may never do something like a helicopter flight again.
- You wear a headset to be able to hear the pilot's commentary and to communicate amongst the passengers - it's really really noisy without the headset.
I think that's it really, other than to say we felt like we were in safe, well organised, professional hands, we had an AMAZING flight and would be very very happy to recommend Zip Helicopter Tours to fellow travellers. Our tour was booked in the UK through the Viator website.