Disclaimer: In exchange for writing a review for the airline ViaAir, I was offered a recent round-trip flight between Farmingdale and Niagara Falls, NY.
Although I don’t recall how I learned about ViaAir serving the above-mentioned Farmingdale (FRG) to Niagara Falls (IAG) seasonal route, they have a few additional routes in the southeastern US:
Props are quite fun, and one thing I like about them is that you know your flight time probably won’t exceed 1.5 hours; they render arguments over in-flight entertainment as unnecessary, and touchdown always seems to happen faster than expected, partially courtesy of a lower cruising altitude. Plus, check out this chilling effect when you photograph propellers in-flight:
As I don’t live near Farmingdale, I started looking up ways to get there from Manhattan. LIRR goes quite close to Republic Airport, as do Nassau county buses, but soon after that search began, I was told by ViaAir that there would be a free bus transfer to/from Times Square…that works!
Probably the cleanest bus I’ve been on in the US, and much cleaner than this. In both Farmingdale and Niagara Falls, the buses even drive right up TO the airplane. You know what that meant?
NO TSA! In fact, no invasive security check at all.
I like these folks already.
The raison d’être of their sole New York state route is obviously waterfall tourism. The flight leaves in the early morning, and returns to Long Island in the late afternoon. As much as Nassau County would want tourists to take a peek at what it has to offer – on second thought, maybe it doesn’t – ViaAir & Co. operated a well-oiled tourist-focused machine from start to finish.
Oh hey, and without having to throw liquids out at a security check, look at what accompanied my free breakfast:
For both ways, the flight took around an hour and twenty minutes. Seating was a free-for-all, in a mostly 1-2 configuration (the last row had four contiguous seats). On the way up to Niagara Falls, I sat on the left/port side (facing the cockpit, it was the left). Which is to say, you’d get to see the Manhattan skyline from a distance, though I recommend sitting on the right/starboard side (facing the cockpit, that is) because the pilot did a u-turn directly by the falls:
As mentioned earlier, the other passengers were collected by various tour agencies, and I was dropped off right by the Rainbow Bridge, one used for both vehicles and pedestrians. Before visiting the Canadian side, I wandered around the US side for a bit, checking out a small farmer’s market near the central post office and…wondering when I should cross to the Canadian half:
Right. You’re all here for an image of a certain somewhere…
Even though immigration officers on both sides weren’t too thrilled about it, I managed to get passport stamps.
I should note that even though there was a beverage service for the flight to Niagara Falls, on the way back, you had to ask the flight attendant if you wanted a drink. Also, it is recommended that you get to the Times Square bus around 05:45, even though it really leaves at ~06:10. Indeed, they did that so as to allot time for latecomers, but I would have liked the extra sleep!
In spite of those very small criticisms, I’d certainly fly with them again, hopefully checking them out on a different route. Thank you again ViaAir for the quality trip up to Niagara Falls!