There are number of Grand Canyon helicopter tour companies that service the West Rim and the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It’s a fact that pretty much all of them offer the same flights. So, when evaluating them, I use the following to form my rankings:
- Customer Service
- Helicopter Fleet
- Quality of Experience
- Safety Record
- Logistics (shuttle transfers, seating, guide service)
By combining all these factors and looking at these companies unbiasedly, here are my top picks:
Papillon Helicopters is the largest Grand Canyon air tour in operation today. The company’s fleet of AStar and EcoStar 130 helicopters are state-of-the-art and ensure that you get the best ride possible. Papillon offers aerial and landing tours, and their selection is extensive, especially trips to the West Rim and the Grand Canyon Skywalk. Flights depart 7 days a week on the hour, including all major U.S. holidays. Papillon’s is a volume business (the company flies more than 1/2 million visitors to the canyon), which results in incredibly low prices that must be purchased online in order to get the discount. In fact, their prices are so low that rarely will you find a competitor that can match them. Trips depart from the Las Vegas Strip and Boulder City, which is a suburb located about 20 minutes from Las Vegas. They get my #1 pick because you get great value and service for the money. Here’s my Full Review
Maverick Helicopters is your 5-star option. This company’s customer service is impeccable and they operate the largest fleet of EcoStar 130′s, which feature 25 percent more cabin space, stadium style seats and a “panorama” windshield. If you’re a person who pays more for excellence, fly with this company. Flights take off from the Las Vegas Strip and the Henderson Executive Air Terminal, which is a 10-minute ride down the Strip. The company also operates terminal at South Rim. Maverick’s tours give you maximum airtime. This applies to both their aerial and landing tours. Unlike its competitors, nearly all Maverick flights go over the Vegas Strip. This is due to the location of its terminals. Their landing tours are creatively packaged and all-inclusive, with several packages going over the Valley of Fire! I particularly like their West Rim top/bottom landing trip. If you’re looking for elite air tours, Maverick’s the obvious choice. Here’s my Full Review.
Grand Canyon Helicopters is my favorite “boutique” air tour company. This organization is small but nimble and is literally under the radar as travelers shop the Internet for a great deal. Like Maverick, Grand Canyon Helicopters uses the deluxe EcoStar 130 so don’t expect dirt-cheap prices. What you can expect are high-quality, limited-edition aerial and landing tours that depart from Las Vegas, NV, and Grand Canyon, AZ. Grand Canyon’s tour selection is limited to only the most popular packages, like landing at the bottom of the West Rim or at Grand Canyon West airport for a day at the top plus the Skywalk. They’ve got a great safety record and offer in-flight narrations translated in multiple languages. I use them as my backup when the helicopter tour I want is sold out, which is not uncommon from April to November. If you’re looking for a personalized tour, Grand Canyon Helicopters is your option.
Mustang Helicopters is another deluxe air tour company that flies only the EcoStar 130. The twist is that this organization is cheaper than it’s elite air tour competitors. However, there’s a catch: To get these awesome deals, you’ve got to take the early morning flight, which typically departs around 7 a.m. Is it worth it? Yes, especially if you want to save between $50-$100 per person! Mustang Helicopters flies exclusively out of the Henderson Executive Air Terminal (there have no South Rim flights), which is conveniently located just 10 minutes south down the Las Vegas Strip. As a budget 5-star helicopter company, their selection is focused on only the top West Rim trips, with their top-seller being the bottom-landing trip with Champagne picnic. If flying first class on a discount is important to you, go Mustang.
Need to Know
Here’s some final tips you need to be aware of in order to get the perfect helicopter flight:
Book your tour at least a week ahead of time. Just like commercial airline flights, air tours also sell out, especially at the last minute. If you decide to purchase your trip at the destination or last minute, you can expect to pay more.
Las Vegas travelers should go with the air tour if they are short on time or have limited funds. If you can afford it, always take a landing tour as these packages combine the best of air and land into an experience you’ll never forget.
If you can afford it, Vegas travelers should always go with a landing tour. These trips combine the best of both worlds and deliver and unforgettable experience.
If you are set on doing the Grand Canyon Skywalk, always buy a tour that includes it as it’s cheaper that buying tickets at the destination
South Rim travelers should always opt for flights with extended air time up to 50 minutes. The 30 minute flights are awesome but they’ll seem short.
South Rim flights are banned from flying below the rim and landing on the bottom.
At the risk of repeating myself, here goes: Do yourself a favor and purchase you helicopter tour on the Internet. That’s where the best rates are. That said, in order to get that Interent discount, you must complete the entire transaction online. Follow just that one piece of advice and you’ll net big savings..