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Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour Review's Video Skewers Weight-Surcharge Fee
Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour Reviews, the National Park's number one provider of air tour information, announced the release of its newest video about weight-limit surcharges in an effort to help travelers better understand their booking.
The video is part of the company's series aimed at providing money saving tips to the traveling public. View it on YouTube here:
"Not a lot of folks are aware of the weight limit surcharge imposed by helicopter companies," said Keith Kravitz, owner of Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour Reviews. "Depending on who you fly, it can be a substantial cost."
Papillon Helicopters, the largest purveyor of trips to the Grand Canyon, sets the maximum weight at 275 pounds (125 kilograms).
"Papillon charges $100 if you exceed 275 pounds," noted Kravitz. "This can easily turn a good deal into an average one."
Maverick Helicopters, which specializes in deluxe trips to the National Park, sets the maximum at 300 pounds. Passengers exceeding that will have to purchase two tickets.
"Here's where it gets interesting,"
If booked on the Internet, there's not an option to add in the weight surcharge to the total cost of the flight as it's usually billed to a client's credit card at check in. Call-in reservations are based on the honor policy, and many people fib.
"Passengers are weighed at check in," said Kravitz. "Papillon, for example, has scales integrated into a floor tile. Estimations by consumers that fall on the light side of the scale will usually be rectified at this point."
In the world of helicopter tours, weight is a big deal. For a helicopter to be cleared to fly, passenger weight must be distributed as evenly as possible in the cabin. It's this technicality that makes reserving a window seat, for example, nearly impossible.
"Pilots get the flight manifest just before departure," said Kravitz. "Then, on the tarmac and after the safety check, they make the seating assignments."
Some tour operators are letting passengers book the front seat, but there's no guarantee because of the weight-distribution requirement.
There are two points of departure for Grand Canyon helicopters:
Currently, it's "low season" for tourism at the Grand Canyon, making it perfect to explore the National Park minus the big crowds that descend on it during summer.
"The number of helicopter flights decreases during winter" said Kravitz. "The odd result is that availability gets stressed. Best words of advice is to purchase tours at least a week in advance in order to get the best departure times, selection and prices."
Go here for more information about the weight-limit fee and how to plan for it: