Tips for Visitors Using "Grand Canyon Air Tours" in their Search for Canyon Flights!
I was digging through our analytics the other day and discovered that many of you are landing up on the site in search of the elusive phrase "Grand Canyon air tours." Nothing in that indicates airplane tours so I fired up live chat and started asking readers what they were looking for.
Come to find out many of you are undecided between an airplane and a helicopter ride. Looking closer, it makes sense and so here's an article addressed specifically to those travelers who are unsure which type of air tour they want to buy.
Let's kick off the discussion with price. Airplane tours will always be cheaper than helicopter rides. There are several reasons for this. The primary one is that airplanes can hold 19 passengers while helicopters can accommodate up to six people. As such, helicopter seats are limited and at a premium.
Then there's the issue of insurance, maintenance, demand and more. I'm not going to tackle the thornier issues here. That's for another article. The one that I will dive into is demand. For whatever reason, helicopters are the "prettiest girl at the dance." Travelers simply can't resist them.
But there's also the perception that the airplanes used on Canyon tours are small, 4-seat affairs that bounce around the sky like a basketball. Well, folks, that's just not true. As I said, these planes hold 19 people. That's quite a payload so to make it happen your dealing with something that closer resembles a jet than a personal-sized Cessna.
In fact, all the planes used on the tours I recommend are overhauled from nose to tail for sightseeing. The most impressive innovation is the wings - they are attached to the top of the plane's body so there's no barrier blocking you from seeing the Canyon below or in the distance. That's a huge plus. So are the oversized viewing windows and spacious cabins.
Airplane tours are available from Las Vegas and Tusayan, AZ, the small town that lies adjacent to the National Park. First, let's break down Vegas flights. Airplanes and helicopters fly the same route to and from the West Rim. There are also air-only and landing versions of these flights. The only true point of differentiation is the Champagne Tour, which features a helicopter landing on the bottom for a toast of bubbly and brunch.
But that's really it. So if price becomes an issue, and it will come summer time when helicopter rates skyrocket, I strongly recommend you consider a plane tour. My favorite Vegas flights include the one that lands at the top of the Rim and another that does the same but comes with VIP Grand Canyon Skywalk tickets. Those two trips are all-inclusive and represent some of the best travel deals The Strip has to offer.
Last comment on Vegas air tours before we move on.There's a terrific flight that I call the Las Vegas-South Rim direct. It goes non-stop from Vegas to the SR in under and hour. The basic tour comes with a 2.5-hour luxury bus tour inside the National Park. The upgraded version lets you tack on a 30-minute helicopter tour that goes rim to rim. Frankly, it's the only way to go from LV to the National Park (I've actually stopped recommending the bus). Please note that this is a day tour. It's not an overnight and I've yet to find one I like. Further, there are no South Rim planes that go to the West Rim or Las Vegas and I don't expect that to change in the near future.
At South Rim, there's only one airplane tour and it's the one that goes over and above the National Park for a total of appx. 50 minutes. There's a helicopter version of this same tour but it costs nearly twice as much. I can easily make the case for both because I think 50-minute flights are truly the only option worth considering. This is because of how much of the National Park you'll see before landing. It really just boils down to price, availability and the size of your group (remember that helicopters can only hold 6 people).
So that's it. I hope this article helped those travelers who end up on my website by searching for "Grand Canyon Air Tours" on Google, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook or whatever search engine you use. Just remember that airplanes do the same things as helicopters except land at the bottom of the canyon (West Rim only). Further, planes are cheaper, and, if you have a group of three or more people, you'll have more luck getting on a plane v. helicopter, especially during spring and summer when Park visitation is at it's highest.
Have a GRAND day,