[Updated With $4 JetBlue Flights!] Carmageddon Countdown: Fly Over Empty 405 Freeway on $400 Helicopter Tour, or $150 Air-Taxi Alternative
Update of update: All four JetBlue flights sold out in 20 minutes. Guess there really are people who wanted to travel from Burbank to Long Beach on July 16. Weird.
Originally posted July 12 at 4 p.m.
Only in Los Angeles (hate that saying, but it's true) would an empty freeway be considered a major sightseeing attraction. But on Day 4 of the countdown to Carmageddon, it's just the kind of apocalyptic municipal madness we crave:
Like many other businesses globbing onto the upcoming 405 closure's PR machine, including GPS app Waze and bars across the Westside, Adventure Helicopters is pitching fancy V.I.P. tours of Carmageddon from above, at $400 per couple. Champagne included.
The company is better known for showing tourists the tops of hidden celebrity homes (can't hide from the birds, bitches!) and the Hollywood sign, but the legendary freeway construction set for July 16 and 17 opens up a whole new market: aerial CalTrans stalking!
Adventure Helicopters Next stop, Mulholland Bridge demolition!
For those of you with triple-digit cab budgets who simply wish to avoid the ground-level gridlock -- and don't have time to pop bubbly slash ooh-ahh at some fat ugly ribbon of concrete -- you're in in luck. Here's the cheaper/quicker air option:
Executive HeliShares will be offering helicopter rides from the Valley to the Westside, and vice versa, beginning Friday at noon. (Because, though the official 405 closure doesn't begin until midnight, there's bound to be an epic pre-party.) The "SkyBridge" will continue to run from Saturday through Monday between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. (Because, again, we're not totally buying Metro's pinky-promise to finish by early Monday morning. If construction crews aren't finished, they're not finished, no matter who has to get fired over the $72,000-per-hour fines that will ensue.) Pickup and drop-off addresses can be found here. Tickets are $150 one way, $275 round trip.
Or you could not be an asshole and take one of 26 bus lines, or three subway lines, that the Metropolitan Transit Authority is offering for free this weekend.
How adorably green, no? Sure, it'll be maddening to figure out, in the moment, which ones, exactly, are free -- and even when you do, they're bound to become overcrowded saunas in the dead heat of summer -- but that's all part of the end-of-the-world fun.
Then again, a flute of bubbly on a V.I.P. 'copter sounds pretty bomb right now. Maybe we can even convince the pilot to play LAPD pursuit and swoop some unsuspecting U-Hauls.
Update: Uhhh... or you can travel insanely cheaper on a $4 flight JetBlue flight between Long Beach Airport and Bob Hope Airport in Burbank.
The deal is only available on Saturday, July 16 -- but still, holy crap.
Allison Steinberg, spokeswoman for JetBlue, says the promotion is just "to make our customers happy by giving them an alternative route -- a fun thing we can do for the Long Beach, Burbank and Los Angeles communities."
Our guess is they'll treat their new $4 customers like royalty, in hopes that next time a choice comes up between Southwest and JetBlue, the latter might have a fighting chance. Pretty much confirmed by the company's press release:
"You'll receive some of the best customer service in the industry, you can check a bag free, have the benefit of ample legroom while you tune to one of more than 100 live channels of free TV or radio stations, and snack freely, all while having a birds-eye view of the road congestion you've given up."
JetBlue.com/overthe405 is now live for the booking. Steinberg says there will be a couple small airline fees beyond the $4, but that "we actually are absorbing the cost of some of the fees." (Anyone who actually goes through with checkout: Please let us know what the final cost is. We're intrigued.)
So why not LAX?
"The idea here is that the 405 -- where does that take people?" says Steinberg. "We were thinking they might want to go to the beach." So, uh, Long Beach it is. Could be worse, right? Here are the departure times:
Burbank: 12:20 p.m. and 6:35 p.m..
Long Beach: 1:50 p.m. and 7:55 p.m.