No matter what car you’re driving, New York City’s notorious traffic can be frustrating. So Cadillac is offering a handful of New Yorkers what could be considered the ultimate luxury: Skipping that traffic altogether. The carmaker is teaming up with aviation company Blade to offer helicopter flights between New York and the posh seaside Hamptons, because where else would you take a chartered helicopter? This program, called Fly and Drive, also gives its entitled flyers use of a Cadillac XT5 once they get to the Hamptons.
The program runs from July 7 to August 25, and only eight seats are available on each flight. Only the first six people to book get the complimentary Cadillac rental. The Cadillac-sponsored flights are posted at random on Blade’s smartphone app, so plutocrats will have to keep an eye on it to get a spot. At least Blade and Cadillac are making people do a little work for this privilege.
Flights depart from heliports at East 34th Street or East 30th Street in Manhattan. In the event of bad weather, Cadillac will drive customers out to the Hamptons in its cars. That’s still pretty convenient, but probably not as satisfying as being able to soar over traffic.
Over the past few years, Cadillac has worked to give its brand more prestige. Bosses want people to think of it as a distinct luxury brand, rather than as just another General Motors division. The need to distance itself from GM was so great that the carmaker moved its offices from Detroit to New York’s trendy Soho neighborhood.
Chartered helicopter flights seem like a pretty good way to get people to forget that Cadillacs are made by the same company as the Chevrolet Spark. It’s current products may not have the sheer extravagance of say, a Rolls-Royce, Bentley, or high-end Mercedes-Benz, but those automakers don’t typically give their customers the option of traveling by helicopter.
But the company’s long-term success depends on the cars themselves. Cadillac’s lineup is as strong as it’s been in decades, and the automaker is even having some success in racing. But it still lacks a range-topping luxury sedan equivalent to the Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7 Series, or Audi A8. A car like that could cement its prestige long after the Cadillac Fly and Drive helicopter promotion is over.