Anyone who has spent any time in vegas will have noticed that one of the constant sights and sounds of the City is the Helicopters buzzing overhead. These are a near constant day and night and many a person will gaze up and wonder about how to go about getting a ride in one of these choppers. There will of course be no shortage of street hawkers offering to sell you a ride in a helicopter for free or at least a huge discount. Of course, you will never know this way if you got a good deal or even booked with a competent operator!
So here we take a look at all the Best Las Vegas Strip Helicopter Tours, how much they cost and what you get for your money. We ask if Las Vegas Strip Helicopter Tours are Worth It and what the experience is like. Not all operators are created equal so we make sure you can find the best tour for your trip.
The Las Vegas Strip is really like nowhere on earth and getting the best view of the dazzling city lights is on everyone’s must-do lists in the City, and a Helicopter tour really is the best way to get above everything and really be dazzled by the lights, the colors, the dazzling sky scapers of Sin City. And we let you into a secret that these Ultra Luxury “High Roller” experiences are really not as expensive as you probably thought!
Are Las Vegas Strip Helicopter Tours Worth It?
The first thing to consider is if it is even worth doing a helicopter tour over the City. These are really short tours, but they can take a good chunk of your visit for 12 minutes of flight time, and a good chink of your money too.
So are they worth it? Well, this is always subjective, but on the whole…absolutely! There really is nothing quite like the sparkling lights of Las Vegas from above, especially at night. The city is designed and built to thrill and seeing it from above feels like living your own Vegas Movie Experience.
There is a reason every Vegas Film opens with sweeping vistas from above the City, it is because from up high the city is simply incomparable. You can get great views from your hotel room, a rooftop bar, observation deck, or simply heading to a Las Vegas Skyline Overlook, but NOWHERE gets you a view like from a helicopter. Don’t believe us…
As they say, a picture says a thousand words!
These tours really do feel very special and make your trip feel really VIP. While they are really short, you do still get to see the entire Strip. From the very bottom at Harry Reid Airport, you fly the length of the strip, circling around Fremont Street and Downtown Las Vegas before heading down the other side of the strip and back to the Airport. So while flight times are short, there really isn’t anything else to see from these Strip Tours. You won’t be left thinking, “I wish we had seen this or that”
And finally, while the tours are not cheap…they are not exactly expensive either! Most people consider a helicopter tour as a real luxury ticket item and expect to pay big bucks to soar through the skies over one of the most famous cities in the world, but prices are definitely at the affordable end. You can bag a seat for a little over $100, even less so you won’t need to remortgage your house! And considering the price of things in Las Vegas $100-$150 for a Helicopter flight really feels pretty reasonable
It’s more about whether that money could be better spent on a show or gambling or even a fancy meal, and these are all very personal decisions. But we can’t visit Las Vegas, even now, and not head up in the air for at least one Helicopter flight over the City!
What to Expect from a Las Vegas Strip Helicopter Tour?
Before we get into the various tour providers let’s just have a quick look at what to expect when you visit your Chosen Operator for a tour. The first job is to arrive at the Helicopter Base. Depending o your tour and various options this will either be via their own transport, via a Taxi/Uber, or self-drive. There are even some Bases within walking distance of some hotels.
Once there you will need to check in. This is a pretty painless process with just one issue, you will be required to be weighed! A lot of people do not like this as it feels pretty personal and intrusive, but it is required for the weights and balances of the helicopter. It is worth noting that most tours, unless stated are not private and you will be sharing the chopper with other people.
You will then have a short wait in the terminal before the pilot arrives. He then takes over proceedings and acts as a tour guide and Piolet. They are also very friendly and professional. They will lead you out to the Chopper and assign seats. You are usually asked to not take photos at this point. Once assigned seats (See Below) you board the chopper and the pilot fires up the engines and communicates with ATC.
Once cleared the pilot hover-taxis out to the runway, then takes to the sky. Assuming you are flying from Harry Reid Airport, the flight first takes you up the Right/East Side of the strip. The best views are out to the left. You fly up past the MGM Grand, Planet Hollywood, Paris, The Highroller, The Venetian, and finally Wynn. Then the tour heads towards the Strat where you get a close-up view of the tallest structure in Vegas, you head out towards Downtown and Freemont before looping around and heading back.
This time you are on the Left/West hand side of the strip and the views are annoyingly still out to the left! Here you fly by the Resorts World, Treasure Island, The Mirage/Hard Rock, Ceasars Palace, Bellagio, Aria, New York New York, Luxor and finally looping around the Mandalay Bay before returning to the Airport. Once on the ground, the Pilot allows you time to photograph the Helicopter and get your shot by the Chopper. They are usually happy to use your phone/camera for you to get a group shot.
As we said the flights are short but pretty comprehensive. They cram the whole city into these short but fun flights.
There is one huge issue with some of the tours offered on the Strip and this is the dreaded seating assignment! We will mention if this is an issue on any of the tours we list below, but it essentially makes booking one of these tours a bit of a gamble.
The most used helicopter has an 8-seat layout. this allows 3 passengers in the front and 4 in the rear. All the front seats are great and the two rear seats on the left both offer the best views. But the right two seats are a bit of a letdown!
Honestly, they are not that bad! You can see below you still get a staggering view of t city and the EC130 helicopters used have panoramic windows that offer a good view from any seat. But it’s just the feeling of being short-changed. Knowing you paid the same money as everyone else but get a lesser seat!
There is also very little you can do about it. The seats are assigned by a computer, based on weights and balance calculations of the aircraft. And while there is wiggle room here once the seats are assigned the pilot can’t change them. Every flight operates like this so complaining after the fact gets you nowhere as they get several complaints a day. You could try leaving negative reviews on Social Media, but again, they get this a lot and it’s white noise.
There is little the companies can do, as the flight routes are set by the FAA for safety reasons, essentially mandating all tours fly the same route so there are no conflicts in the air. It is far from ideal, but there is no other choice, apart from refusing to sell the rear town seats, but that would be more costly for all.
Some tours offer the chance to guarantee the front seats, but this is expensive, or you could choose an operator that uses smaller helicopters with guaranteed strip views, but these usually fly from las vegas North which is a pain.
Honestly, the best choice is to leave it to fate and make the best of it if the gamble fails. It’s still a great experience and the view really isn’t that bad! It upsets us due to the inability to get good photos but for most people, it’s still a really enjoyable experience.
Best Las Vegas Strip Helicopter Tours
Ok, enough intro, let’s dive into the best operators so you can choose the best outfit for your trip.
#1 – Maverick Helicopters
- Location – Harry Reid Airport Helicopter Terminal
- Aircraft – Eurocopter EC130 – Ecostar
- Duration – 12-15 mins
- Cost – $104-$154
- Notes – Large Modern Fleet
Maverick Helicopters are the largest and most professional tour operator on the strip. They operate a huge fleet of top-of-the-line EC130 EcoStar Helicopters and employ the cream of the pilots. Their base of operations is large, modern, and really well appointed and there is a fleet of shuttle buses to transport you directly to their heliport.
It really is an incredible operation and has a head of money behind it, which ensures perfect safety and Maintainance records. While this large corporate feel has a lot of advantages it also feels pretty impersonal and cold too. You are very much part of a machine and it can all feel a little bit like a production line where YOU are the product.
However, we always find this impersonalness vanishes once you are with the Pilot. These guys are great and always make you feel super safe and welcome. The Flights are usually operated in large groups of helicopters all taking off at once, for operational purposes and it’s quite a sight. The Aircraft are large, modern, and offer great views of the City.
The big downside to Maverick is they are one of the chief culprits of the rear seat issue we discussed above. But with such a slick operation they are hard to ignore. We have flown with Maverick on many occasions and really have had no issues at all, we have always got lucky with the seating allocation but the people we flow with, in the rear seats, still had great flights and got to enjoy the stunning view of the City.
We love the location, the slick operations, and the incredible pilots. Overall it’s our number one pick for the City and the fact it’s included on the Go Las Vegas Pass as a Premium Attraction means it’s super affordable as an attraction.
We also really love the Grand Canyon Tours operated by Maverick. We flew out to the canyon with them recently and it really was one of the most memorable things we have done in Vegas.
#2 – Skyline Helicopters
- Location – North Las Vegas Airport
- Aircraft – Robinson R44
- Duration – 15 mins
- Cost – $99 – +$50 Doors-Off
- Notes – Small Helicopters, Doors Off.
Skyline Helicopters could not be more different from Maverick. Here we have a really small and friendly operator that offers a personal and intimate service offering short flights along the strip in its small and inexpensive Helicopters.
They are one of the few operators to offer Doors-Off helicopter flights. These are really appealing to us as they allow for unimpeded camera shots. The Plastic windows of most helicopters can produce horrible reflections which can ruin photographs but with a doors-off flight, you get a clear shot of the City below. It is also a real thrill having the doors off. The wind howls in your hair and the ground plunges away below you. It’s a really intense and thrilling ride.
The tiny Robison R44 Helicopters are a bit of a relic. They are a long way from the ultra-modern high-tech EC130’s the big boys operate, but this has the advantage that all seats are window seats (or exit seats if doors-off!) and all seats offer amazing views. Our pilot even arranged for both of us to be on the same side (front and rear) so we both had the best filming opportunities (Video and Still).
As there are only 3 seats, the chances of a private flight are nearly guaranteed! They will happily take off with only two of you and people rarely book as a solo.
The big downside is the flights operate out of North Las Vegas Airport. This is much more remote and hard to get to than the convenient Harry Reif Locations and can add quite a lump to the cost of the flight to get out there. It’s also a large chunk of your day gone. It also feels much less flashy and glamorous, as you are led out into a mixed-use hanger and loaded onto the helicopters.
It has a very general aviation feel about it, rather than a corporate or professional feel. It is more like a friend taking you for a ride in his chopper (we all have friends with helicopters right?) rather than a professional tour operator. But this has its up and downsides as it is far more friendly.
The other big difference between flying from North Las Vegas is the route. The first section of your flight will be over some pretty dull urban districts of Las Vegas. Things get interesting once you get to Downtown Las Vegas. Here you pick up the same flight route as the other operators and head down the Strip to Mandalay bay, then back up the other side, past the Strat, and then back to the airport via Downtown. It’s the same highlights reel just in a different order.
VIP Canyon And Strip – $195 – For a longer tour you can head out towards the Red Rock Canyon for a glimpse of the stunning natural landscapes around Las Vegas.
#3 – Papillion
- Location – Harry Reid Airport Helicopter Terminal
- Aircraft – Eurocopter EC130 – Ecostar
- Duration – 10-13 mins
- Cost – $99-$119
- Notes –
Papillion offers a very similar and rival service to the Maverick. They operate a large fleet of modern Ec-130 choppers from their fancy Harry Reid Airport Helicopter terminal. They are efficient and comparatively priced, and conveniently located on the strip.
Their tours are short but concise and infact follow the exact route of Mavericks flights, mainly as this is mandated by the FAA. Really everything that is good about Maverick is good at Papillion. However, most of the downsides remain too, it’s pretty impersonal and feels a bit like a conveyor belt of tourists. There is also the issue of the seating arrangements and Papilion offers very little to combat this. Again it’s a case of all seats are decent but some are far better than others and you have no choice in this pot-luck decision.
Overall they are a really good operator and well worth flying with. The problem is they are so similar to Maverick in their offering it’s hard to separate the two. For us, Maverick Helicopters are just that bit bigger and more professional so if you choose to go down that route then we tend to go for maverick. But price and availability could be the deciding factor and if Papillion has a better deal, then there really is no reason to pay more for Maverick.
Private Flights – One good option here is to book the entire helicopter. Papillion offers a great rate of $679.00 for the entire helicopter. This means for groups of 4-6 people, you can rent the entire aircraft for prices pretty similar to booking individual seats. This way YOU are in control over who sits where, although with 6 people …2 of them are still going to get the dreaded right-rear seats!
Papillon also offers great options for Grand Canyon Flights too
#4 – 702 Helicopters
Another smaller helicopter operator flying the small R44 4-seater helicopters out of Las Vegas North. These are very similar to Skyline above but do not offer our preferred Doors-Off option. They offer a $35 private flight upgrade, but the reality is most of these are private as there are only 3 passenger seats, very few people book solo so you are 95% sure of a private flight without upgrading.
702 Helicopters have a nice friendly feel about them and are worth a look but as we said a few times the main reason to choose a flight from North Las Vegas is to bag a Doors-Off flight 702 does not offer these, but they do offer a good solution to the poor rear seats of the larger aircraft used by Maverick, Papillion, and 5-Star.
Look for deals on Group-on which can offer really good prices from time to time!
#5 – 5 Star Helicopters
- Location – North Las Vegas Airport Helicopter Terminal
- Aircraft – Eurocopter AS350 – A-Star
- Duration – 13-15 mins
- Cost – $134
- Notes –
Honestly, there is not much to like about this option. 5-Star operates the much older A-Star Helicopters. These are the workhorses of the world’s helicopter fleets and have dedicated years of service, but they just are not as well suited to providing ariel tours as the newer ECO-Star helicopters. The rear seats are small, and less elevated offering poorer views out of the smaller windows.
You would think this means they can offer better pricing but their prices are pretty much ar for the course. They also currently operate their strip flights out of North Las Vegas Airport, meaning it’s a long trip out to catch the flight, although you are in the air longer, the extra flight time is over pretty unremarkable scenery.
If we were flying from North Las Vegas we prefer the smaller operators, especially Skylines Doors-Off Option, otherwise, you are far better off flying from the Strip operators such as Maverick and Papillion.
We have pointed out a few other helicopter tours you can take from Las Vegas, above but we wanted to add a bit more detail here as well. While the Strip Tours show you the whole of the city they are still brief, being airborne for only a few minutes each. But the reality is, any longer and you would be doing laps!
If you want a bit more airtime and to see a bit more, then you need to head away from the strip. There are several options in Vegas for more adventurous Helicopter flights.
The Ultimate Helicopter destination in Las Vegas is the Grand Canyon. There are several tour operators that will fly you out to the Grand Canyon, and many of these tours offer flights over the strip as well. They are more expensive than the strip tours but offer a really luxurious way to visit the Canyon, flying in and enjoying a glass of bubbly at the bottom of the canyon is a real las Vegas Highlight!
Red Rock Canyon
Like a mini Grand Canyon located just a short flight from the strip. If you want to get out and see some of the stunning Las Vegas Scenery and get a flight down the strip then these are well worth checking out at around half the price of a Grand Canyon Tour
Maverick Helicopters – Neon and Nature – Private Landing
Valley Of Fire
Only Skyline offers a tour of the Valley Of Fire, and they only offer it as a private tour which is pretty expensive. We love the Valley Of Fire, but with the current options, it’s not really a good destination for a helicopter tour!
You could even hire your own plane and head out to the Grand Canyon as we did!
Saving Money on your Las Vegas Helicopter Flight
Helicopter Flights are GREAT, and as we said they are not as expensive as you might think. But if they were even cheaper, that’s even better right… here’s how to save a few dollars on your Las VegasStrip Helicopter Tours
A Maverick Las Vegas Strip Helicopter Tours is included as one of the premium attractions on the 3, 5, and 7-day Las Vegas Passes, so for around $200, you can bag a helicopter flight and access to over 40 top attractions in the City.
It’s one of the best ways to save in the City – Read the full review here.
My Vegas is MGM’s in-house gambling game that offers real-world rewards for playing the game. It’s great fun to play and you can get actual Vegas rewards from playing. There are tons of discounts and freebies available including discounts and BOGOs on helicopter tours.
There are several operators that offer discounts on group-on from time to time so it’s always worth checking out.
Sales and Off-Peak Bookings
If you are going direct always monitor prices for a few weeks as sales and discounts are regularly offered. Also, peak times are often more expensive and you can bag a cheaper price at weekends or less popular times.
Free Helicopter Rides
AVOID like the plague anyone on the strip offering free or heavily discounted helicopter rides. Infact avoid anyone selling tours on the strip. These are rarely the best deals and you are much better off going direct, however, the freebies come with a killer sting in the tail.
They are not scams as such and you will normally get the freebie offered, which could be anything from free helicopter tours, even to the Grand Canyon, to shows, buffets, meals anything available in Vegas really. The Catch? you will have to sit through a Time Share Presentation, which could take upwards of 6-8 hours! Even if you really are interested in Vegas Time Shares there are far better ways of getting one than this!
Nothing is worth giving up that much of your vacation time, so do not even make eye contact, don’t break your stride, or answer their questions, they know a sucker and if you keep walking and politely say no, they get the hint…engage and you are screwed!
Are Las Vegas Strip Helicopter Tours Safe? Unfortunately, the simple answer to this is no. There is an inherent risk in all forms of aviation. And helicopter tours have a less-than-perfect safety record. However, the odds of anything actually happening are vanishingly small. All activities carry an inherent risk and Helicopter Tours in Vegas are not very high up on that list.
One of the riskiest things people do in Vegas, is heavy drinking, getting an uber from the airport, or just walking the strip. Sin City is a place where people come to let loose and that makes them an inherently risky environment, but we don’t all worry about this.
However once in a helicopter, we all start panicking about the risks. We think this is because we all have a little fear of flying, as it’s so unnatural, and on the few occasions it does go wrong it’s very dramatic. Car Accidents, Overdoses, fights, and stabbings all get brushed under the carpet in Vegas, but you can’t brush a helicopter crash away!
Overall it is a relatively safe activity. The FAA is seriously strict about routine maintenance and safety protocols and the operators live under the fear of having licenses revoked. This means these super professional companies really go to town on Maintneca and safety making the tours as safe as possible.
Just type Helicopter Crash Las Vegas into Google and while there are a few hits, it’s really really rare. Our advice worry far more about your Uber Driver than your Pilot!
Fear Of Flying
Even if you are reassured that the tours are safe, some people just have irrational fears of things, These can’t be just explained away as they are irrational. Kate has a real fear of Spiders, and while I tell her all the time there are NO venomous spiders in our area, it does nothing for her fear!
Likewise, with a fear of flying, it’s not always rational, it’s just a phobia. For many, this naturally rules out Helicopter flights. However, we mention this here as we find Helicopter flights, especially the EC-130 Eco Star Helicopters, to be less likely to induce a Fear Response.
Helicopters are a really different flying experience from airplanes and offer a more stable platform. You don’t really feel like you are flying. Anyone with a really strong fear is well advised to avoid it, but for those with a mild fear wondering if a Helicopter flight is doable, we think it less likely to produce the
I know this for a fact as I took flying lessons, in part to overcome a fear of flying but this fear was never really evoked when flying in helicopters. It just feels so different. I would get a mild fear in large aircraft, but light aircraft would render me useless until I spent hours actually flying them. But all the while we would take Helicopter rides and ve completely unaffected.
So if you are on the edge you might well find it’s not as scary as you fear.
FAQ and things to consider
If the weather is bad then the flight will be canceled. This however is a fairly rare occurrence in Las Vegas. Only strong winds, low clouds, or heavy rain will lead to cancellation, and in most of those conditions you WANT the flight to be canceled.
If a cancellation does occur you will be offered a re-schedule first, which is the best resolution for all, but in case you cannot reschedule you are entitled to a refund as THEY canceled the flight. We do hear of operators trying to refuse but they are the ones who have not met their end of your contract.
For all but the doors off flights the Helicopters are airconditioned so clothing matters very little. There are only really two considerations. How do you want to look in any photos? and reflections. For anyone wanting to get some shots out of the windows, it’s essential to wear dark clothes.
The windows have a horrible habit of reflecting any light-colored clothing right back into the shot and ruining the photo. It’s a real pain and even dark clothing can show up. Also in any shared flight, the other passengers may have not realized this issue and you may catch their reflections in the windows too!
This is why we love Doors-Off
We have heard lots of issues with the various pick-up locations. For the Tours that offer hotel pick-ups, it’s essential to know WHERE these pick-ups are from. It is rarely from the front entrance. You need to find the Tour Bus Pick-Up location and if in any doubt double-check with the Concierge AND the tour provider!
Have Your Say
Have you done a Las Vegas Strip Helicopter Tour? Let us know your thoughts below in the comments. How were your seats? Did you get a good view? and who did you fly with? Let us know as we love hearing from you. good or bad, whatever your experience. And if you have any questions just fire away