A helicopter service for the rich that just sold out from a commuter pass between the Hamptons and Manhattan in September suggests that many of the rich who fled the city during the pandemic wanted to stay in the Hamptons in the fall.
Blade, the helicopter and mobility company, announced last week a special "Hamptons Commuter Pass" offering daily helicopter flights between the Hamptons and New York City. For a one-time membership fee of $ 965, customers can get flights for $ 295 each way. Typically, the flights cost $ 795.
Typically, Blade's business to and from the Hamptons drops 80% in September as the Hamptonites return to their jobs and live in town. But Blade's September promotion sold out of all 250 seats in less than 24 hours.
"We were very surprised," said Rob Wiesenthal, Blade CEO. "This is a signal that people plan to stay out there."
Demand speaks to one of the key questions New York faces this fall: How many of the hundreds of thousands of affluent and affluent New Yorkers who left the city in March plan to return? As companies continue to offer remote work programs and many private schools offer hybrid classes or distance options, many families who have settled in the Hamptons, Connecticut, Westchester, and the Hudson Valley remain traveling the city throughout the fall.
The shift has turned the usual commuting patterns of the New York rich on their heads. Instead of living in the city with the occasional trips to the beach or second home, families plan to visit the city two to three days a week and then return to their homes with more space, yards, and activities for their children.
"The whole pattern has suddenly turned," said Wiesenthal. "Our model is that we went from a weekend deal for people living in the city to a seven-day or five-day deal with people in the Hamptons and went into town."
Wiesenthal said that due to continued demand for the commuter pass, Blade is adding more helicopters to the route and reopening the program to more customers. He said 80% of commuter pass buyers have never flown Blade before. He said overall business this summer was down year over year as Hamptonites stayed on the beach and did not return to town.
The commuter program started after customers had called the company in the past few weeks asking for cheaper or more frequent options for shuttle services to and from the city. Many had children at school only two or three days a week or had to be in the office for a day or two. Some wanted to commute by helicopter every day so they could return to their families in the Hamptons every day.
Wiesenthal said 250 people, while not a huge number for Manhattan, are among the largest donors and will not support their usual restaurants, retailers, and services around town when small businesses are in dire need of help. He said when Blade asked new customers why they weren't returning to town, they cited schools, remote working and the rising crime rate in the town.
“Crime was number one,” he said.