Hailing a Seaplane From East 23rd Street

Photograph by Pete Ryan/National Geographic

Seaplanes, those pontooned private aircraft that seem to combine the dangers of crashing and sinking at the same time, are typically reserved for hedge fund barons, Ibiza-bound Russian oligarchs and pretty much anyone with their own vanity foundation.  

They’ll likely never be amphibious yellow cabs for the rest of us.  But traveling by air and sea at the same time isn’t entirely out of the realm of splurging. 

Let’s say a family of five wants to go from New York City to Nantucket. They've invited two houseguests, which brings the number of people traveling to seven, typically a seaplane’s maximum capacity. On Jetblue, each ticket for days sandwiching July 4th, for example, is currently $749.76, roundtrip. With taxes and fees, all seven tickets come to a total of $5,708.50. Total transit time—including 40 minutes to get to JFK, 45 minutes at the airport and 30 minutes in the air, amounts (in this if-you’re-lucky scenario) to 2.5 hours, from concrete to beach. 

On a seaplane, the family can leave from the East 23rd Street Skyport in Manhattan and land anywhere around Nantucket, where every beachfront property is effectively equipped with its own watery landing strip. Farmingdale-based Talon Air quotes at $8,539.66, roundtrip. Travel time: maybe a little less than 1.5 hours each way.

That’s $2,831.16 more expensive than commercial travel. True, that's the equivalent of monthly rent on a Manhattan studio. Though the plane's probably roomier. And no airport security, less traffic leaving the city, and fewer screaming children on the plane. Except your own.

James Tarmy is reports on arts and culture for Bloomberg Muse , the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News.

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