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Why are Helicopter Tours so Expensive? Solved!

By: Swena Kalra

Edited By: Scott Sidders

Updated on November 6, 2023

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Do you dream of soaring above the mountains and coastlines of some of the most breathtaking destinations in the world? Well, that dream is likely out of reach unless you have a few hundred dollars to spare. Helicopter tours are notoriously expensive, but why? Is it just because of the cost of fuel? Let's take a closer look at the price tag for a helicopter tour.

1. The Cost of the Helicopter

One of the primary reasons why helicopter tours are so expensive is the cost of the helicopter itself. Helicopters are very complex machines that require much maintenance and upkeep. Additionally, helicopters are not as commonly used as other types of aircraft, which means that there are fewer manufacturers and suppliers and, thus, higher prices. This is especially true for tour helicopters, which often need to be custom-built to accommodate larger groups of people.

You can't just buy a standard helicopter off the shelf and expect it to be able to fly a group of 10 people around for an hour-long tour! When you factor in the cost of the helicopter, it's no wonder that helicopter tours are so expensive.

2. The Cost of Fuel

Another reason why helicopter tours are so expensive is the cost of fuel. Helicopters use a lot of fuel; thus, the price of a helicopter tour is often directly proportional to the fuel price. Given that fuel prices can fluctuate quite significantly, the price of a helicopter tour can also fluctuate quite significantly. You might be able to snag a helicopter tour for a relatively low price if fuel prices are low, but you can expect to pay quite a bit more if fuel prices are high.

3. The Cost of Insurance

Insuring a helicopter is also quite expensive, as helicopters are considered high-risk vehicles. The cost of insurance for a helicopter tour is often one of the most significant expenses for tour operators. Given that the risk of an accident is relatively high, insurers often charge very high premiums for helicopter insurance. Tour operators often charge high prices for their tours to offset the cost of insurance. You can't blame them; after all, they need to protect their assets!

4. The Cost of Training

Another significant expense for helicopter tour operators is the cost of training. All pilots must undergo extensive training to be licensed to fly a helicopter. This training includes both ground school and flight time and can often take years to complete. As such, the cost of training pilots is often passed on to customers through higher prices for helicopter tours. Even if you're just taking a short, 20-minute tour, the pilot likely had to put in hundreds of hours of training to be able to take you on that tour.

5. The Cost of Maintenance

Keeping a helicopter in good working order is no small feat, and it requires a team of highly skilled mechanics. In addition, helicopter parts are often very specialized and challenging to come by, meaning that repairs can be both time-consuming and expensive. These factors quickly add up, making helicopter tours one of the most costly tourist activities. However, the experience is worth the price tag for many people. After all, few things are more exhilarating than the sights from above.

6. The Cost of Licensing and Permits

Another significant expense for helicopter tour operators is the cost of licensing and permits. Depending on where you want to operate your tour, you might need a special license or permit. For example, if you want to fly in national parks, you'll need to obtain a permit from the National Park Service. The process of obtaining these licenses and permits can be both time-consuming and expensive, and the costs are often passed on to customers.

7. Lack of Competition

When it comes to helicopter tours, there is often little to no competition, meaning that market forces do not drive prices down. In many cases, there is only one tour operator in a given area, which gives that operator a monopoly on the market. As a result, they can charge whatever price they want without worrying about losing customers to a competitor. This lack of competition often leads to higher prices for helicopter tours.

Now that you know some of the reasons why helicopter tours are so expensive, let's explore whether or not the experience is worth the price tag.

Are Helicopter Tours Worth It?

The simple answer is: it depends. Helicopter tours can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is worth the price tag. On the other hand, some helicopter tour operators overcharge for their services and offer a bad experience. It just depends on the operator and the specific tour you book.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when deciding whether or not a helicopter tour is worth it:

1. The Quality of the Tour

When it comes to helicopter tours, you do get what you pay for. If you book a cheap tour, you can expect the quality of the tour to be relatively poor. The helicopter may be old and in poor condition, the pilot may not be very experienced, and the overall experience may be pretty lackluster. On the other hand, if you're willing to pay a bit more for a tour, you can expect the quality of the tour to be much higher. The helicopter will likely be newer and in better condition, the pilot will be more experienced, and the overall experience will be much more enjoyable.

2. The Length of the Tour

Another factor to consider is the length of the tour. Helicopter tours can range from just a few minutes to several hours, and the price will vary accordingly. Of course, the longer the tour, the more expensive it will be. However, you may find that the price is worth it if you can book a more extended tour that takes you to multiple locations.

3. The Location of the Tour

The location of the tour is also an important consideration. If you book a tour that takes you to a remote location, you can expect the price to be much higher than a tour that stays close to the city. This is because it costs more to fly to remote locations, and the pilot must be more experienced to navigate safely.

4. The Number of People on the Tour

Another factor that can affect the price of a helicopter tour is the number of people on tour. Most helicopter tours have a limited capacity, and the price will increase as more people book seats on tours. If you're booking a tour for a large group of people, you can expect the price to be relatively high.

5. The Time of Year

The time of year can also affect the price of helicopter tours. Tour prices are often higher in the summer months when demand is higher. If you're looking to book a tour on a budget, you may consider booking a date in the off-season.

Overall, helicopter tours can be a great experience worth the price tag. However, it is essential to do your research and book with a reputable tour operator to ensure you get the most bang for your buck.

Happy flying!

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