Chuck Schumer launched another one of his constituent-pleasing crusades this week: He wants the FAA to regulate the flight paths of rent-a-chopper services that whisk the city's plutocracy to the Hamptons on the weekends. They'd be restricted to "noise-abatement routes" along freeways and over the water, leaving Long Islanders feeling a bit less like they're living in a suburban Apocalypse Now. But are Hamptons-bound helicopters really such a problem? Increasingly so, as it turns out. This year, Blue Star Jets, which books for the area's six operators and their 35 helicopters, reports a 15 percent increase in chartered traffic to the beach; it expects to have booked 500 trips by the end of the summer. Even worse, with the average trip costing about $2,500, the passengers are the sorts of people used to getting what they want. "People will come with eight steamer trunks like they're boarding the Titanic," says pilot Charles Humphries. "Then we have to explain to them that they can either take their friends or their bags."
And leaving the biggest possible carbon footprint isn't just for special occasions. "We're getting more and more families with kids," says Blue Star vice-president Marco Larsen. "Our clients used to ask for Champagne onboard. Now it's more like pizza, French fries, and a PSP console." Larsen estimates that two or three choppers take off for the Hamptons each weekday during the season, and up to ten on weekends. There's one disadvantage, though: It's not the most luxurious ride. "If [passengers] request music or news, we can pipe it in," said pilot Humphries. "It's not an elaborate setup. It's an AM radio." —Michael Idov