We flew on the new seaplane between D.C. and New York


Kristen Hinman

Tailwind Air lands on the East River and docks at 23rd Street and FDR Drive. Photo: Kristen Hinman/Axios

👋 Hey, Axios Local bureau chief Kristen here. Can I tell you about the night last week when I found myself frantically weighing my MacBook on my bathroom scale?

What was happening: I was going to New York City for two nights. And I'd booked the new seaplane. But it was only once I'd paid did I see the fine print: "Your ticket includes 20lbs of carry-on baggage/rollaboard only."

Why it matters: Name one time you've packed 48 hours' worth of New York City wardrobe changes in the equivalent of a diaper bag!  

Catch up quick: Operated by Tailwind Air, the seaplane between Dulles and Manhattan’s East River “Skyport” started service on Oct. 14.

  • Flight time: 80-95 minutes, depending on winds.
  • Aircraft: Cessna Caravan.
  • Cargo: eight passengers, two pilots, lots of snacks.

At $395+ one way, tickets are 💰💰💰. But trust me — you’ve never had this much fun getting to/from Manhattan.  

The upsides: First and foremost, the trip is nearly frictionless.

  • You’re wheels up from the billionaires’ hangar at Dulles (aka the private jet terminal), and wheels down on the river at East 23rd Street and FDR Drive.
  • You can show up 20 minutes before your flight.
  • There’s no TSA stop or security line.
There is this ⬇️
An overhead view of Manhattan as seen from a seat on the Tailwind Air seaplane.
Photo: Kristen Hinman/Axios

Yes, but: There are a few downsides.

  • Flights aren't as often as you might like. (According to Felipe Infante, Tailwind’s station manager for Boston, that’s because the company only flies three planes between D.C., New York City and Boston.)
  • Ascent and descent can be verrry herky-jerky. If you’re the puking type 🙋‍♀️: Dramamine.  

Also: Low cloud cover can cause cancellations.

  • Tailwind may have to scrap a flight or land at a conventional airport (such as Westchester or Teterboro) and work to provide ground transport from there.
  • The week I traveled saw three consecutive days of cancellations, Infante told me.    

Of note: I also had a booking canceled five days in advance due to “operational issues.” Company representatives couldn’t pinpoint the exact reason, but told me the plane likely needed maintenance. At least I had enough notice to shuffle my plans.  

The bottom line: Tailwind is an awesome option for commuters, or those who won’t stress about a 2.8-pound MacBook hoarding precious carry-on space. That said, I’d 100% do it again — unpacking was a cinch.