The new year is finally here! If you’re thinking about trying a Grand Canyon helicopter or airplane tour, the time is now. However, air tours are always in high demand and I recommend booking yours as soon as you reasonably can before prices increase.
Air tours depart from Las Vegas and South Rim every day of the week from 7 a. M. To 5 p. M. Nearly all tours except South Rim departures include free hotel transfers. From Vegas, you can leave from The Strip (more expensive) or from Boulder City, a suburb 30 minutes from Vegas.
I recommend booking online and in advance to get the best price. Two weeks prior to flight time is the latest you should wait. Don’t book same day or within 72 hours of flight time as you’ll pay more or flights will be sold out. Further, make sure you complete the transaction on the Web in order to get the Internet discount.
Las Vegas helicopters let you fly over the Canyon or to the bottom, top or both. The flyover option is the cheapest and is great for travelers who have limited time to do a tour. Personally, I like the bottom-landing tours, especially the one that comes with a Champagne picnic.
South Rim helicopters are only available as flyovers. In other words, they don’t land. This is because the FAA and the Park Service has banned landings at the South Rim. Thus your choices range from 30-minute to 50-minute flights. There’s also a great Jeep/Hummer/Helicopter combo.
Las Vegas airplane tours are cheaper than helicopter tours. This is because airplanes hold 18 passengers versus six people for a helicopter. Airplanes can fly over the canyon or land on top of the West Rim. From there, you can upgrade your package to include the Skywalk or a helicopter to the bottom.
There’s only one South Rim airplane tour. It’s 50-minutes and it goes over the South, East and North Rims. By the time you’re done, you’ll have seen up to 75 percent of the National Park (the 50-minute helicopter tour does this, too). Airplane tours include free trip narrations in up to 11 languages for free.
Helicopter tours are either basic or deluxe. Las Vegas deluxe tours typically use the newer helicopter, which is called the EC-130. This chopper is 25 percent larger than standard, older helicopters and comes with a 180-degree wrap around window and stadium-style seats, which makes every seat a good one.