A Word About Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour Discounts

Some online tour sites would have you believe there are deeply discounted helicopter tours, but the discount is not as it appears to be.

The truth is that all Grand Canyon helicopter tours are essentially identical.

  • All helicopter tours are governed by the FAA (Federal Aviation Agency), and all must fly the same flight-path on the tours.
  • They all provide safe, well-maintained helicopters.
  • Such things as hours of operations, airport locations, and hotel pickups are all nearly the same.
  • Many of the differences between helicopter tour companies are marginal or inconsequential, such as whether you are offered a morning snack at the terminal.

The more important differences include the reputation for service the tour provider has developed over the years.

Some would argue that the ‘age of the fleet’ is important as well, and the argument holds up well regarding guest comfort and visibility – current helicopter designs are best. The newer designs have ‘theater seating’, where passengers in the back seats look over the heads of the people in the front. They also have bigger windows, are a little quieter.

The Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) here in the United States has very strict rules regarding helicopter tours, and the FAA establishes requirements for ‘airworthiness’. Regarding safety issues and maintenance of the fleet, all helicopters, new or old, must adhere to these rigid federal standards.

The most important similarities In the case of Grand Canyon helicopter tours provided by different companies, most similarities are related to the hard costs of operating a helicopter.
For example, tour helicopters generally require similar amounts of fuel per hour, FAA rules regarding maintenance are the same, pay for staff, pilots, and mechanics for each company are about the same, etc. there certainly are some savings based on size in some cases, but for the most part, these hard costs cannot be discounted.

Question: When Is A Tour Discount Not A Discount?

Answer: When There Is An Additional Fee or Surcharge Added, To Be Paid At Time of Tour.

The real costs of operating a helicopter tour are similar between all helicopter companies, and true discounts on Grand Canyon helicopter tours are rare.

In order to sell more seats, the tour-selling sites have ‘squeezed’ the profit margin out of the tour provider, by negotiating to sell the seat for less money. The idea is that the tour provider will make less per seat, but will make up for it with volume. The only problem is that it doesn’t work well. The tour provider must recover the difference in order to stay in business, and they do so in the form of collecting back-end fees.

For example, a helicopter company sells a seat on a helicopter directly to the guest for $400, with no hidden fees or surcharges; expenses are covered, a profit is made, and the provider is there to serve the people you refer.
If the same seat is sold by an online tour site for $340, the small print will tell the buyer they must pay a convenience fee of $10, a processing fee of $20, and a fuel surcharge of $40 when they check in for the tour.

One more thing to watch out for is the ‘convenience fee’ added when you buy from a ticket agent on the strip, or even at your hotel or time-share. A tour may be listed at $249 in a company’s brochure at the tour sales counter; and the ticket seller will charge an addition $30 to $100 or more in addition to the ‘rack-rate’, and it will be called a ‘convenience fee’. The seller keeps that fee, and then later is paid an additional 20% to 35% of the original $249 as a commission… which means the ticket seller actually makes far more on the sale of the tour than the provider who gives the tour.

Be aware of this and be thoughtful as you do your research.

  • Tell the ticket seller you don’t want to pay the ‘convenience fee’ and negotiate it away, or buy your ticket somewhere else;
  • Look for the small print that may hide fuel surcharges and processing fees before you book your ‘discount’ tour.
  • Go online and book your tour directly with the provider.

If you buy your ticket and book your tour through us, there will never be a hidden fee… we don’t allow it.

In some cases you will find as you compare and review the available tours, the one you choose may not involve price at all, but whether the tour is available on the day you want it.

Why We Recommend Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopter Tours

  • Founded in 1965, pioneered the flight-seeing industry over 39 years ago
  • Papillon is the largest and most experienced helicopter sightseeing company in the world
  • Papillon boards over 600,000 passengers annually
  • Papillon is the only helicopter company certified to fly both the south and west rims of the Grand Canyon
  • Papillon also provides Grand Canyon Bus Tours from Las Vegas. Papillon’s Grand Canyon Coaches has one of the best Grand Canyon ground-transportation systems available. They coordinate with Papillon helicopter tours, using their own buses.
  • Papillon also has custom tours available, working with ‘best partners’, such as Pink Jeep Tours and Big Horn’s Grand Canyon Hummer Tours.
  • Papillon Helicopters has what it takes to enhance your overall experience and maximize your time in the Grand Canyon.