The most over-the-top solution to being stuck in traffic when trying to make a flight? Fly over it. A company called US Helicopter has launched a shuttle service that takes you from downtown Manhattan to the American Airlines terminal at JFK airport in a heretofore unimaginable eight minutes. The company expects to expand to other New York-area airports later this year, with plans to take flight in Boston, Chicago, L.A., and San Francisco in the years ahead.
Bypassing the parking lot of an "expressway" that connects Manhattan and JFK holds irresistible appeal, as does the fact that you'll be flying on an eight-passenger Sikorksy. Your $159 one-way ticket ($179 if booked by phone) also lets you skip the airport security line (you'll clear the checkpoint at the heliport).
There are flaws in the service, which was slated to debut in late March. If you're not flying American, you'll need to re-clear security at your departure terminal. Sadly, the service doesn't include any noise-canceling headphones, and duffers beware: You'll need to buy an extra seat for your golf clubs. You may also feel an ethical twinge when you wonder why the Transportation Security Administration provides free screeners for a very limited, hoity-toity market. But it's perhaps best to ponder that as you pass the Grey Poupon.
A version of this article appeared in the May 2006 issue of Fast Company magazine.