BLADE Adds Pre-Flight COVID Tests For Shared Private Jet Flights

As airlines begin pre-flight COVID-19 testing, BLADE Urban Air Mobility said it is now offering and requiring pre-boarding testing for its scheduled private jet services within the United States. The requirement applies to all passengers, cabin attendants, and BLADE lounge employees for all shared jet flights. It’s included in the ticket cost.

Its current schedule includes flights New York to Miami and Aspen. BLADE offers passengers private lounges in Manhattan (at West 30th Street for helicopter transfers), Westchester Country Airport, north of New York City, and Opa-locka Airport in Miami. In Aspen, it uses private aviation facilities, so customers avoid the main airport terminals used by airline passengers in all cases.

The pre-boarding testing is administered before check-in. It is performed on-site by CrowdRX, a division of Global Medical Response.

Melissa Tomkiel, general counsel and president of Fixed Wing at BLADE, said, “Testing was always on our timeline for our shared jet services. Now that we are satisfied with the safety, reliability, and ease of our testing program, it has been integrated into our pre-boarding protocols.”

The BLADEone jets seat up to 50 passengers as configured by regional carriers. On its semi-private flights, they have just 14 or 16 seats organized in a 1×1 configuration. That means that there is always an aisle width between you and the next passenger.

How much does BLADE cost?

Standard BLADEone seats between New York and Miami sell for $2,850 with an additional cost of $495 if you choose to add the helicopter connection between Westchester and Manhattan. Holiday period seat cost goes up to $3,050.

You can also buy a 10-Pack of tickets, providing a 10% discount or 20-Pack, which shaves 15% off prices. Both are valid for one year.

Flights between New York and Aspen start at $3,500 per seat.

XO, the other major player in the East Coast shared, scheduled private jet market, said it continues to require passengers on shared flights to submit a Health Declaration Form at least 24 hours before departure to verify wellness and identify any symptoms. It also reviews travel from the previous 21 days, and additional screening may be required. Masks are required for shared flights.

It said, in some instances, passenger temperatures may be taken with a non-contact infrared thermometer. On the ground, preferred FBOs have reconfigured facilities to facilitate social distancing and have implemented targeted cleaning procedures. Aircraft are stocked with personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer for passenger use.

Per seat prices for XO flights between New York and South Florida range from $1,790 to $3,390, depending on the departure date.

XO allows passengers to propose shared flights anywhere in the U.S., as well as for international routes. A seat for a shared flight from New York to London is listed at $7,390. However, you’ll need to find nine other like-minded travelers as a minimum of 10 seats need to be sold for the flight to takeoff.

There could be more shared flights on the way. Speaking at the Corporate Jet Investor Americas 2020 conference earlier this week, Wheels Up CEO Kenny Dichter told attendees, “We’re going to work closely with Delta (Air Lines) if there’s a city pair not being served. We’ll look at shuttles, seats, shared flights.” Delta Air Lines owns 24% of Wheels Up, now trailing only NetJets with the second-largest for hire fleet of private aircraft.

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