The Points Guy

Seaplane flights from NYC’s East River to suburban DC start next month

There will soon be a new way to travel the congested southern portion of the Northeast Corridor.

By Ethan Klapper

Tailwind Air is launching amphibious seaplane flights between New York’s East River and Maryland’s historic College Park Airport (CGS), which is located just outside of Washington, D.C.

The flights start Sept. 13 and will be operated using eight-seat Cessna Grand Caravans with floats attached, though those won’t be needed for arrival to landlocked College Park.

Tailwind launched service between the East River and Boston Harbor last year. With the new flight, Tailwind will serve the entire Northeast Corridor. It’s also selling one-stop through tickets between Boston and Washington, with a stop in New York.

Flights on the NYC to D.C. route are on sale from $395 one-way, and Tailwind is running a free companion ticket promotion. Tickets purchased through Sept. 10 for flights departing between Sept. 31 and Dec. 21 are eligible for a free companion ticket when using the code “TWDCBOGO,” though some restrictions apply.

Flights between New York (SkyPort Marina at the eastern end of 23rd Street) and College Park Airport — which is walking distance from the Green Line on Washington’s Metro system and about a 30-minute drive from the U.S. Capitol — will take between 80 and 90 minutes. The flight will operate between one and two daily round trips.

“Adding College Park, in the Washington, D.C., area to us is an exciting next chapter for us as we aim to bring the Northeast together again in a faster way,” Peter Manice, Tailwind’s director of scheduled services told TPG in an interview.

College Park Airport, which is also near the main campus of the University of Maryland, is the world’s oldest continually-operating airport, having seen its first operations in 1909. Its single runway is very short — just 2,607 feet — which could mean possible weight restrictions on the hottest of summer days, Manice said, though he was generally unconcerned about any significant operational impacts.

he College Park Airport (CGS) near Washington, D.C., is used by general aviation aircraft. (Photo by Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Manice, who is also a co-founder of Tailwind, sees the seaplane route as a viable competitor to rail service, particularly Amtrak’s popular high-speed Acela Express.

Tailwind will operate the flights on a 5 days a week basis. Departures from Manhattan leave at 08:55 “We think it’s going to be considerably faster than anything that Acela can do, or that the commercial air airlines can do — very similar to what we do up in Boston,” he said. Most Acela trains between New York’s Penn Station and Washington’s Union Station take just under three hours.

The airspace around D.C. is heavily restricted for security reasons, an issue that foiled Tailwind’s original plans to land in the Potomac River. But that won’t upend its latest plan to fly to the Maryland suburbs, according to Manice.

He said that the operator worked with the Federal Aviation Administration and Transportation Security Administration to obtain the necessary clearances to operate into and out of College Park. Manice also added that Tailwind is not giving up on its Potomac aspirations.

“One day we’ll be in the water in the Potomac, hopefully,” he said.

Featured photo by David Slotnick/The Points Guy

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