The Basics

BLADE Helicopter vs LIRR Train – Which Was the Fastest Way to Manhattan?

Written by Charlie

Here is a look at which would get me to Manhattan faster in helicopter vs train – aka, BLADE vs LIRR. From start to finish, here is how the schedules play out!

Fly BLADE has become an intriguing way to get between Manhattan and the three big NYC-area airports for less than an Uber during rush hour. It still isn’t cheap but if you want a unique experience and to spend minimal time in transit, it is definitely a way to go!

BLADE vs LIRR – Which Would Win to Manhattan?

Link: More about BLADE

TL:DR: I fully realize that BLADE takes just 5 minutes of flight time from JFK to Manhattan but this is a look at what it would take from arrival to arriving in Manhattan and my surprise at how well LIRR did against the suggested BLADE itinerary.

Last month, I had to hop over to New York City for the day so I figured I would finally give BLADE a try (due to luggage issues on previous flights – more on that below). I had considered flying them from JFK to Manhattan and when I went to book, here is what I saw for the timetable:

My flight was due to arrive just before 9AM but they selected the 10AM BLADE flight for me to give time to exit the plane, head to arrivals, connect with the driver, and then get to the helipad. According to their schedules, they figured that would be an hour to be safe.

BLADE vs LIRR – Which Would Win?

Given the timeframe, I thought I would rather see if I could actually take my usual route – the AirTrain to LIRR at Jamaica Station to Penn Station in Manhattan. The cost would be $5 for the AirTrain ticket getting off at Jamaica station (it is free if you get off before that) and $10.75 for the peak, one-way ticket on the LIRR.

I arrived a few minutes early and was seated in seat 1A on the AA flight so was first off the plane. I had no luggage so went quickly to the AirTrain and caught it just a couple minutes after arriving at the platform.

Elevator Detour: I was actually detoured for about 8 minutes since the elevator myself and some other passengers were using to get to the platform got stuck between floors. The power was still on but nothing worked at all (including the HELP line). Finally, I forced the door open and myself and another passenger helped the others make the 2 foot stride to the next floor. No biggie! 🙂

Once I got to Jamaica, I quickly bought my ticket from the kiosk and headed downstairs to the tracks. I had to wait a few minutes for the 9:30AM and then we were off! We arrived on schedule at Penn Station in midtown at 9:50AM – a full 10 minutes before the BLADE flight would have lifted off for the 5 minute trip to Manhattan!

In the end, I saved $179 by taking the LIRR vs BLADE and even made it to Manhattan 15 minutes earlier than the BLADE flight would have taken! Definitely not bad at all and this was during peak times on a weekday!

So, is the LIRR better than BLADE?

Here’s the thing – if you have luggage and are coming from JFK, I would say that the LIRR would be the more economical and possibly even more time-convenient way to go. If you take BLADE, anything over 25lbs of personal luggage needs to go with a carrier for $85 for 2 bags. This is by the road so you will need to wait for those to arrive.

Even if you don’t have luggage, it can be quicker to take the LIRR than BLADE – if you were to follow the BLADE recommended schedule! If you wanted to get there quicker, you could always opt for an earlier flight but they will not wait so that could be risky.

That afternoon, I had to head to LGA for my flight out and made arrangements to take BLADE for that leg. Unfortunately, the weather turned a bit sour so they cancelled my ride and I went by bus instead. So, my first BLADE flight is yet to happen – next trip!

What Will I Take Next Time?

Personally, I think the best way to utilize BLADE if you are going to do it just one way would be to go to the airport rather than away from it. Because the trip is helipad to the airport to the vehicle to the terminal, there is less waiting going to the airport than if you are coming from the airport. Also, you are not at the whims of delayed flights incoming, etc. So, next time I have the chance, I will spend a few more minutes enjoying a nice slice of pizza before hopping the helicopter to my airport. Flying into the city? I may just stick with my old standby of the LIRR. It really isn’t that bad of a way to go!

Of course, the view from BLADE will definitely beat the view from the LIRR and that is something that I definitely won’t want to miss!

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • My biggest problem with Blade is where the East and West lounges were. Sure, if I was staying at Equinox Hudson Yard, that’s excellent, but I’ve never had a trip to NY where I’m like, man I really need to stay there. But, LGA to downtown seems actually usefull.