Hilton points now redeemable for helicopter rides

Hilton has added a novel award option to the HHonors frequent-stay program: transfers to and from the airport via helicopter.

HHonors members can now redeem 80,000 points for a one-way eight-minute helicopter ride between Manhattan and JFK airport or Newark airport.

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The service is operated by US Helicopter Corporation, flying Sikorsky S76 helicopters seating eight passengers. Flights depart from Delta Terminal 3 at JFK or Continental Terminal C at Newark every half hour, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Good value? The bean counters would say "No."

The helicopter transfers normally cost $159 each way between either airport and the Downtown Manhattan Heliport, or $169 to/from the East 34th Street/Midtown Heliport. And as a point of comparison, 80,000 HHonors points can also be redeemed for two off-peak nights at the Arizona Biltmore or the Waldorf=Astoria. Based on the math alone, the rational actor would be inclined to spend the points on the hotel stays and pay cash for the helicopter ride. But this may be one of those cases where the award's dollar value is less relevant than its aspirational value.

The view of the Manhattan skyline from a swooping, low-to-the-ground helicopter: priceless.

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