Last night, my wife Debbie and I decided to play tourist and do the Sundance Helicopters Citylights tour. A great way to see the city and all its lights without all the traffic and crowds!
The reservation was quick and easy. The operator was friendly and engaging even after learning we were locals. The tour comes with free limousine pickup at the hotel. Again, being locals, we were going to opt out of that but the operator convinced us to “just do it, play tourist!” She was right, so worth the little extra effort to go to the Strip and be like a tourist. I was a chauffeur on the Strip for 5 years, but Debbie is a limo newcomer, so she enjoyed the extra touch.
Touched by Technology
We chose the Bellagio for our pickup. Two hours before our scheduled pickup time, I received a text reminding me of the time and place to be. I liked that. Then five minutes before the scheduled pickup time, I got another text from Sundance telling me “Your AWE Inspiring adventure is about to begin” then gave me the chauffeur name and that they were en route. Dang, I love technology!
Right on schedule, we were picked up by the limousine. Along with another two couples, we were whisked off to the nearby terminal, friendly check-in and our badges than a small glass of champagne to toast the occasion!
The timing of all this was perfect. A short wait before we heard our names called by our New Zealand born pilot Ramsey, complete with that accent that drives women crazy… Nice way to start the flight. With a happy and smiling wife who got to sit next to the pilot…
After a safety lecture and demonstration, Ryan loaded us onto the helicopter. It was cold loaded meaning the rotors are not started until after we were all safely strapped into the helicopter. An important point I like to make. Some helicopter tours let them run while loading or unloading.
The helicopter was roomie (Airbus EC130T2) and Ryan was friendly and kept the bird flying smoothly and slowly over the lights of Las Vegas. Going north up one side of the Strip, turning around past the Stratosphere, giving us a great view of downtown as well as the Las Vegas Valley. Then coming back down the Strip on the other side. This is a regulated flight path that all tour helicopters follow for safety and to keep from congesting the flight path into McCarren International Airport.
The nice thing about this flight is that it seems like its just you and your helicopter in the air. The flight plan that is worked out by all the tour helicopters, keeps everyone far enough apart to make sure the guests get a good view of the lights below without seeing any other lights in the sky!
Ryan had good conversation and helped us get some great shots. Unfortunately, Debbie was having camera issues and was unable to really get the shots we wanted. But that did not deter from the fun of just being up and over the city and seeing it all in its neon glory.
This may be redundant, but as a tour director, I have had my fair share of helicopter tours all over the west coast. Most I would like to forget! Although the helicopter was a beautiful product of modern engineering, was very comfortable with 6 passengers plus pilot and it flew in a regulated formation and speed, it’s your pilot that make or break a trip like this. Ryan was the man who made it all feel so relaxed, fun and comfortable as we flew down the Strip. Keeping it where we had to be and not have any concerns about the brisk wind I knew he was working against.
I know on some online reviews, people complain about the time you are in the air. I think most of them never did the tour. Because of how they handle the entire process, you never pay any attention to time. The wonderful way to be transported to the terminal, fast friendly check-in, the glass of champagne and the friendly pilot that keeps you enjoying everything around you. You never realize it is only about ten minutes from takeoff to landing. Nor do you care!
Wrap Up Review
What I loved: The limo was a great way to start and end the experience. Others use a luxury van. The fast but not rushed check-in was a pleasant experience. We never felt rushed or crowded. Nice, modern and roomy Airbus EC130T2 to ride in with a fun and professional pilot.
The only complaint that I have is the need for their photographer to take our photo with a staged helicopter, to sell back to us afterward. This is an outdated marketing tool guests are slowly pushing away from. We had no time to get a photo with our pilot and the helicopter like other tour helicopter companies allow. I understand they want to sell you the photo. However, if you want a better marketing tool, I would allow the guests to get photos of themselves with the pilot and the helicopter as the backdrop. That would be a better social marketing tool. But that’s just me…
Conclusion: Two thumbs up (four with Debbie!) Yes, I would highly recommend Sundance Citylights helicopter Tour. You Want to see vegas? This is how you do it!!
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