Fly from College Park to NYC … by seaplane

A Cessna Grand Caravan EX operated by Tailwind Air flies over Boston Harbor. Tailwind will debut a similar service between New York and College Park, Maryland, this September. (Courtesy Tailwind Air)

A Northeast-based airline has found a way around all the inconveniences and hassles that make you hate flying. It comes at a cost, but if time is money, it might be worth it.

Starting in September, Tailwind Air will start flying from College Park Airport directly to Manhattan by seaplane. But rather than flying into one of New York City’s airports, the plane will land directly on the East River.

Why take off from College Park? Peter Manice, a Georgetown University graduate who cofounded Tailwind Air, said it’s a matter of convenience.

“It has free parking, no crowds, no long lines … nothing that resembles the modern-day airport and all of its stresses,” said Manice, whose airline has offered similar flights between New York and Boston since 2014.

“We primarily use waterways to do that,” he said. “We use waterways that are near urban cores in Manhattan or Boston, for example.”

Ideally, Manice would’ve done it from a spot on the Potomac River, but its proximity to restricted airspace around the nation’s capital made that hard to accomplish. College Park Airport’s position inside the Beltway and across the street from the College Park Metro station means it’s a good alternative.

“Our planes are blessed with the ability to land on water or land,” said Manice.

Planes land in the East River dock where Manhattan’s East 23rd Street meets the water. One-way tickets run from about $400 to $800, and each plane has room for up to eight passengers; flight time is around 80 to 85 minutes.

The initial plan is for two flights in each direction Mondays through Fridays, and a single flight on Sundays. If the demand is there, Manice said they can increase the number of flights scheduled.

“We only require 10-minute check-in, so you just need to show up 10 minutes before the flight is scheduled to depart,” said Manice. “Whether you’re at our lounge in New York City or College Park Airport, once you’re out of your car or your taxi, you’re not more than two minutes from the front door of the airplane.”

The belief is the service’s convenience will make the cost worth it for travelers.

“It’s a more-expensive option, it’s not necessarily inaccessible to people who place a value on time,” said Manice. “In many cases, we’re looking to save people several hours, if not three to four hours on a round-trip commute from the D.C. area to Manhattan, and in some cases, that’s very much justifiable.”

Those who book before Sept. 10 can take advantage of a buy one seat, get a second free promotion Tailwind is running ahead of the new service’s debut.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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