Blade, an aviation startup founded by former Sony and Warner Music Group exec Rob Wiesenthal and GroupMe cofounder Steve Martocci, has made its bread and butter flying elite New Yorkers on helicopters to the Hamptons.
The startup is now expanding its offerings to include seats on a private Gulfstream IV jet.
Dubbed BLADEone, the service will be offering seats on flights between Manhattan, Miami, and Palm Beach — destinations that many New Yorkers frequent during the off-season.
A one-way ticket will cost about $2,200.
A typical Blade helicopter flight departs from one of three luxury lounges in Manhattan, where guests can sip rosé and cocktails while they wait to board.
Passengers on Blade’s new private jet service will depart by helicopter from one of the lounges, then land next to their plane where it awaits them at Westchester County Airport.
Blade does not actually own any of the aircrafts its services offer — it instead uses an app to crowdsource seats on flights already planned by major operators. The Gulfstream jets used on BLADEone are owned and operated by JFI Jets.
The jets, of course, are packed with amenities. Each of the 12 individual captain’s seats come with their own iPad Pros, which have been preloaded with movies curated by the Tribeca Film Festival. Flight attendants wearing uniforms designed by Tamara Mellon will serve cocktails and a meal designed by noted chef Todd English.
CEO Rob Wiesenthal says no seat on the jet is a bad seat, and his team wanted to bring “the romance” to aviation.
“The flight is part of your vacation,” Wiesenthal tells Business Insider. “Why should the trip be miserable and you’re vacation not? The flight should pump you up, not make you exhausted and feeling like, ‘Thank God I got off that plane.'”
Passengers will also receive an amenity kit packaged in a leather bag designed by Jack Spade. There are suede slippers by Del Toro, skin care products by La Mer, an electric toothbrush by Quip, designer socks, and an iPhone charger, among several other amenities.
The first flight will be at 4 p.m. on December 3 — just in time for New Yorkers to head down to Miami for Art Basel. There will be a brand-new lounge at Miami’s Opa Locka Airport waiting for them when they land.
Nearly 50,000 people have downloaded Blade’s app. Current destinations for helicopter and seaplane flights include Quogue, Southampton, East Hampton, Montauk, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and Cape Cod. You can even snag a seat on a helicopter going to one of the New York area airports, a five-minute ride the company calls Blade Bounce.
Tickets range from $395 to $695 for a trip from Manhattan to the Hamptons, Blade’s most popular destination. For a few hundred more dollars, you can do a custom charter flight to a destination of your choice, and you can even choose to fly on a faster aircraft if you’d like.
Blade completed a $6 million Series A funding round in May of this year. Google chairman Eric Schmidt, Discover Communications CEO David Zaslav, IAC’s Barry Diller, Alex von Furstenberg, Raine Ventures, and iHeart Media chairman Bob Pittman all contributed to the startup’s most recent round.
Wiesenthal knows a lot of companies have tried and failed to make the private jet experience better and more accessible. But he’s studied their business models and thinks Blade can make it work. Blade’s advantage, according to Wiesenthal, is that it’s purely a logistics company with a focus on customer experience, and the cost of flights are offset slightly by luxury lounges where Blade passengers kill time before trips. Blade touches the customers in all parts of the trip in ways other jet companies don’t.
“We’re flying lounge to lounge, harmonizing the trip with the helicopters,” he says.
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