WHY SHOULD I BOOK A HELICOPTER TOUR INSTEAD OF AN AIRPLANE?
Airplanes are restricted to fly no lower than 1000 to 1500 feet and they have wider standoff distance than helicopters, which can fly as low as 500 feet. Only a helicopter can fly you through Mt. Waialeale Crater, up close to massive waterfalls and into Kauai’s many lush valleys.
ARE YOU A FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION (FAA) PART 135 OR PART 91 OPERATOR? AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Island Helicopters is a certified FAA Part 135 operator. This requires a higher standard of pilot qualifications and much more oversight for safety by the FAA in comparison to Part 91 operators. Companies that are designated as Part 91 operators are limited to a distance of only 25 miles from their home base, which would eliminate touring half of Kauai’s famous Na Pali Coast.
DO YOU OFFER FLIGHTS WITH THE DOORS OFF THE HELICOPTER?
Island Helicopters strives to give the utmost memorable and comfortable experience while keeping a stellar safety record for over 40 years. We achieve this by letting the talents of our pilots and the beauty of Kauai amaze our guests without relying on adrenaline and extreme conditions. To ensure the SAFETY and COMFORT of all of our guests and pilots, we choose to keep our doors on during tours.
Safety: When the doors of a helicopter are off, everyday items such as loose-fitting shoes, sunglasses, hats, face-masks, cell phones, etc. all become a hazard if they were to fly out of the aircraft. This is not only unsafe for people below, but also for the operation of the helicopter. It could be catastrophic if an item were to fly out and hit the tail rotor.
Comfort: Our pilots (and our 40+ years of experience) have found that most passengers flying with the doors off get wet, have wind blowing in their faces and are unable to control the temperature of the helicopter cabin. Personal items can become damaged because of the moisture.
Flying inside the climate-controlled comfort of the AStar is preferred by most customers. Our custom, floor-to-ceiling windows and doors provide guests with exceptional visibility throughout their tour. And unlike doors-off tours, Island Helicopters welcomes people of any age.
ARE THERE WEIGHT RESTRICTIONS FOR SEATING?
Yes. Regardless of a passenger’s weight being above, or well below, the per-seat weight allowance, accuracy of stated weight is imperative for each and every passenger. All helicopter operators are required to generate a FAA approved weight and balance prior to take-off to ensure the correct stability and handling of the aircraft. This means that every passenger is required to be weighed (discretely) at the time of check-in.
If there is a discrepancy in a passenger’s weight at check-in versus their stated weight at booking, and an approved weight and balance may not be reached, there is a possibility that a guest will not be able to board but they will still be responsible for the cost of their empty seat.
Passengers 240 lbs. and over are required to purchase an additional seat (“Comfort Seat”). For any two passengers in the same party, traveling together on the same flight, that may not exceed 240 lbs. individually, but have combined weights exceeding 420 lbs., is required to purchase a Comfort Seat. Comfort Seats cannot be added or removed at flight time so we need precise weights during booking. We encourage guests to double check their weights prior to their flight date and to be sure to include clothing, shoes and any carry-on items in that amount.
WHY ARE THERE WEIGHT RESTRICTIONS? WHY DO I HAVE TO BE WEIGHED?
A helicopter operates quite differently than a commercial airliner. Commercial jets are permitted to use average adult weights, while helicopters are not. Tour helicopters have a very limited number of seats which makes the experience personalized and special. Excessive weight could reduce the efficiency of the aircraft and the pilot’s ability to maneuver, should an emergency situation arise.
The aircrafts that we operate (AS-350 B2s) are powerful and impressive machines that can out-maneuver tour airplanes and most large tour helicopters, giving you superior access to Kauai’s ancient valleys, magnificent waterfalls and craters. It is of utmost importance that we provide our guests and pilots with a safe and comfortable experience.
CAN WE TIP THE PILOT?
Yes, if you enjoyed the tour given by your pilot, tips are always greatly appreciated.
IS THERE AN AGE REQUIREMENT FOR YOUR TOURS?
Nope! We welcome guests of all ages. Children less than 24-months of age (“lap child”) on the tour date, not occupying a seat, may be carried free of charge when traveling with a paying adult. Although the purchase of a seat is not required for the lap child, you will need to let Island Helicopters know at the time of booking your tour, what the child’s estimated weight on the date of the flight will be, as well as their date of birth. Children age 24-months and older are required to purchase a seat at the regular price.
CAN WE TALK TO THE PILOT DURING THE FLIGHT?
Post-pandemic, we have continued to keep the passenger microphones disconnected due to concerns of sharing germs between customers. Each tour includes a unique and live narration by your highly-qualified pilot, and is choreographed to music. If you have any questions, your pilot would be happy to answer them prior to takeoff and after landing.
CAN WE TAKE PICTURES? CAN I GET A PICTURE NEXT TO THE HELICOPTER?
Yes and yes. There are many photo opportunities throughout the flight. We do not allow tablets, selfie sticks, drones, or lenses over four inches to be used during the tours, due to possible interference with other passengers’ viewing. Please keep the camera lens away from the windows to prevent scratching and also so the vibration doesn’t affect your pictures. When you land after your tour, our line-personnel will be happy to snap a picture of you or your group next to the helicopter. If you are on the Jurassic Falls Landing Adventure, your pilot can also take pictures of you in front of the waterfall.
WHEN DO I NEED TO ARRIVE FOR MY TOUR?
We ask all passengers to arrive at least 45 minutes prior to their scheduled tour in order to complete the check-in process. Kauai roads have frequent and on-going construction and unforeseen delays are common when traveling about the island. If you arrive to the island of Kauai on the same day as your scheduled tour, we ask that your scheduled commercial airplane flight arrive at least two hours prior to your helicopter tour. We are not responsible for airline delays and any no-shows will be charged in full for their missed tour.
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR ON MY HELICOPTER TOUR?
Dress like a ninja. Passengers should wear dark colored shirt, pants/shorts, and shoes, if possible. Light colored clothing can reflect off the helicopter windows and may appear in your photos, so black or dark color clothing is preferred. Our helicopter cabins are air-conditioned and you are able to control your own A/C vent to adjust the temperature. If you tend to get cold, consider bringing a light sweater or jacket. Passengers taking the Jurassic Falls Landing Adventure should wear closed-toed shoes.
DO YOU OFFER ANY ADDITIONAL DISCOUNTS?
YES! When booking directly with Island Helicopters, customers should feel confident that they are receiving the best rate possible. The prices on our tour pages are based on payment by credit card. If customers choose to pay in cash, cashier’s check or money order, they can save an additional 4% (cash discount is available to domestic customers only). We encourage our customers to carefully research claims of “best price guarantee” and understand that booking through a third-party website, activity vendor or concierges, will incur inflated pricing to cover their sales plus commissions. When our customers choose to book direct through our website or by calling 808.245.8588, they are rewarded with the lowest rate possible on Kauai’s best helicopter tours. We do ask for a credit card at the time of booking to secure the reservation. The credit card is not charged at that time unless you meet one of the exceptions noted in the “Reservation Policies” section on the Terms and Conditions page.
DO YOU OFFER TRANSPORTATION FROM THE CRUISE TERMINAL?
Yes. We offer a complimentary shuttle pick up and drop off for customers who are visiting Kauai by cruise ship. You can let us know in the “Comments” section of our website reservation request, that you would like transportation from the Nawiliwili Harbor.
WHY DO YOU FLY ASTAR HELICOPTERS?
There are several reasons why we choose to fly the Airbus AStar helicopter.
- The AStar is the most widely used and the most popular tour helicopter in the world.
- This aircraft gives a smoother ride than the EC-130 or Eco-Star helicopter, especially in windy weather.
- Our AStars are equipped with custom floor-to-ceiling windows which assure safety, climate control, and excellent viewing from all seats.
- All our AStars are AS-350B2 models equipped with a more powerful 1D1 turbine engine.
- We custom retrofit our new helicopters for a left pilot seat which keeps the pilot position from obstructing views.
- The AStar helicopter does not have a center console between the front and rear seats, while the Bell Jet Ranger and Hughes 500 (doors-off) both have a center console that blocks views for rear passengers.
DOES ISLAND HELICOPTERS OFFER A VIDEO RECORDING OF MY ACTUAL FLIGHT?
Island Helicopters does not video record your actual flight because we do not believe it’s safe to do so. When flights are video recorded, the pilot has to manually operate and manage one or multiple cameras. We strongly believe that during a flight, a pilot should be flying the helicopter and observing the skies at all times and not be distracted by operating video equipment. We also have observed that the video quality is poor on most tours that are video recorded. Water drops often cloud the lens, people’s heads are blocking the inside cameras, and when the pilot points out something on the left the camera might be viewing something on the right.
WHY DOES ISLAND HELICOPTERS ASK WHERE I’M STAYING ON THE ISLAND AND MY TRAVEL DATES?
It is important that we gather this information for several reasons. Our team knows Kauai well. With only one road around the island, traffic can be very unpredictable, and if we are aware of where you are staying, we may be able to advise you of a commute issue ahead of time so that you can adjust your schedule accordingly and you don’t miss your tour. We ask for travel dates because we can better accommodate you on a tour that will allow for rescheduling if the weather does not cooperate with your planned tour departure.
WHY CAN’T I AUTOMATICALLY BOOK MY TOUR RESERVATION ONLINE?
With over 40 years in business, we have found that we can cater to our guest’s travel needs with much better success if our team personally reviews each booking request. Most companies choose to let an automated system place patrons on a predetermined calendar which can lead to complications in scheduling. At Island Helicopters, every booking is customized based on a number of factors and we know that by treating each booking with individualized attention, our customers end up with the highest level of satisfaction.
WHERE DO YOUR PILOTS LIVE?
All of our pilots are full-time residents on the island of Kauai. Because they live on Kauai, they intimately know the geography, history, and landscape of Kauai. This knowledge is reflected in our pilots’ skilled and culturally accurate narration. Many of the other Kauai air operators rotate pilots and mechanics between their different island operations.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN BUSINESS?
Over 40 years! Bonnie and Curt Lofstedt started Island Helicopters in 1980, and Curt managed another Kauai helicopter company for seven years prior to that. Island Helicopters is one of the only owner/operator/local-resident air tour companies in the State. Read our full story here.
DO YOU LIKE LIVING ON AN ISLAND?
Everyone lives on their own island, from work to the grocery store, days off doing chores and going to soccer games, etc. On our days off we have all of Kauai for playtime. We have the pleasure of meeting people from all around the world. So, to answer the question: YES, we love it here!