JFK Airport Guide

This post can help you figure out which is the best choice of transport to and from NYC’s 3 main airports: JFK, Newark, and LaGuardia.

 

 


JFK AIRPORT – Traveling between JFK and Manhattan

John F. Kennedy Airport is the largest and busiest of all NYC-area airports. Located in Queens, about 15 miles (23 km) from Manhattan, it handles most international flight into the NYC area, so if you are traveling from overseas, this will likely be your destination!  

You have several options to get from JFK Airport to Manhattan once you arrive.


AirTrain + Subway from JFK to Manhattan

AirTrain JFK

This is by far the cheapest (and surprisingly easy) option to get from JFK to wherever you are staying. Using a combination of the light rail AirTrain to connect with the subway system is a very easy way to reach Manhattan.

You can use this link to Google Maps and enter your destination address to get exact directions from JFK Airport.

The AirTrain circles the airport every day of the year, 24 hours a day, and stops at every terminal in the airport as well as stops from which you can connect to the subway system.

After you arrive, follow the signs to the AirTrain. There are two AirTrain lines – be sure to get on the correct one that will take you to the stop you need.

  • Jamaica Station line: This line will take you to Jamaica Station where you can connect to the E, J and Z subway lines and also the LIRR (Long Island Railroad).
  • Howard Beach line:  This takes you to the Howard Beach subway station where you can take the A subway line.

Travel between airport terminals is free but to you must pay for the AirTrain to the stops that connect with the subway.  

You will need a MetroCard to pay the AirTrain fare and also to ride the subway. MetroCard vending machines are available just before the AirTrain exits at Jamaica Station and Howard Beach.  

 

New York Metro Card

 

Note: If you are buying a new MetroCard, there is a $1 fee for the card.  Hold onto that card!  It is refillable!

Read our posts on how to buy a MetroCard and tips on mastering the NYC subway system

  • Total Cost: $7.75  The AirTrain is $5 (children under 5 are free) and a single subway ride is $2.75
  • Travel Time: varies depending on your destination.  But plan on 60-90 minutes to get to Midtown Manhattan.
  • Pros:  The cheapest option by quite a bit!! Also, during rush hour traveling by subway can be faster than being on the roads in a taxi.
  • Cons: If you have a lot of luggage, be prepared to carry it up and down stairs because not all subway stations have escalators or elevators.

 


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Air Train + Long Island Railroad from JFK to Manhattan

LIRR

If speed is your priority then you can take the AirTrain and connect with the Long Island Railroad (LIRR), though it will cost you about twice as much as using the subway.

Again, in the airport follow the signs to the AirTrain and take the Jamaica Station line. There you can get on an LIRR train and go to Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan.

Keep in mind when calculating the total cost, that you will likely have to pay more for a subway, bus or taxi to where you are staying.

  • Total Cost: $15.50 (includes the AirTrain cost of $5 and $10 LIRR fare.) Note: this price is for peak time trains, currently 6 am – 10 am and 4 am – 8 pm. Off-peak trains will be slightly cheaper.)
  • Travel Time: approximately 35 minutes
  • Pros: Quicker than the subway and still significantly cheaper than a taxi.
  • Cons: Same issues with large amounts of luggage as with the subway.

 


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SHARED VAN

goairlink-van

Two companies, GoAirLink and SuperShuttle are ride-sharing services that have the door-to-door benefits of a taxi but are significantly cheaper.

You can request GoAirLink and SuperShuttle from the ground transportation desk in the baggage claim area. You will be assigned to a van with other passengers (unless you are lucky) heading to the same general area as you. 

 You can also book online in advance.

  • Cost: Depends on your destination from the airport. As a point of reference, the cost from JFK to Grand Central Station Terminal in Midtown Manhattan will cost you between $20-$25 per person. ($18/adult through Citysights if you use code save10)
  • Travel Time: Can vary.  If you are sharing a full van (11 passengers), you might be the first dropped off or you might be the last.
  • Pros: Has the convenience of a taxi and is much cheaper
  • Cons: Can take a very long time.  Passengers often have to wait at the airport until there are enough people for a mostly full van, so plan to sit and wait for a bit.

Tip: If you are considering purchasing a tourist attraction pass, City Sightseeing has a pass that comes with a bonus free shuttle ride from your Manhattan hotel to JFK, LaGuardia or Newark Airport using GoAirLink. 

It’s called the FreeStyle Pass Pick 7 and includes 3 days of hop-on-hop-off bus services, your choice of free entry to top attractions, a night tour a free ferry ride and much more.  

They also offer single shuttle rides from all airports for as low as $18/adult with code save10

 


Direct Bus from JFK to Manhattan

NYC Express Bus is the official bus operator for the NYC Department of Transportation. At JFK, you can find the bus at Terminals 1, 4 and 8. Look for the red signs. 

Travelers arriving at other terminals, you can take the Air Train to Terminal 1, 4 or Terminal 8 to take the Express Bus.

The bus goes into Manhattan and drops passengers at TWO locations:

  • Grand Central Terminal (corner of 41st Street & Lexington Ave)  and 
  • Times Square / Bryant Park (42nd Street between 5th and 6th Avenue) 

To both destinations from JFK: 

  • Cost:  $19.00 per person (Children 5 and under are free)
    • Price covers two suitcases and one carry-on bag.
    • More than that and you must pay an additional fee.
       
  • Travel Time: Approximately 90 minutes – 2 hours
     
  • Hours of Operation: 7 days a week, 11 am – 7 pm, every 30 minutes
  • Pros:
    • Reasonable price for a comfortable ride. Children under 5 are free!
    • You can book online which saves you time instead of purchasing your ticket at the airport when you arrive.
    • With online reservations, you can take any bus on the day of travel and the reservation is good for 90 days from the date of purchase. 
    • Both stops are in Midtown Manhattan and near many subways and lots of taxis that you can use to get to your hotel.
       
  • Cons:
    • Traffic is unpredictable. Your trip could be as short as 60 minutes, but if the traffic is very bad, you may be on the bus for up to 2 hours.
    • Not located at all terminals. But you can easily take the Air Train to get to the terminals where bus stops are located.

 


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NEWARK LIBERTY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT  – Travelling between Newark and Manhattan

Newark Liberty International Airport is located in New Jersey, but many travelers prefer flying into this airport because it’s less crowded and offers direct flights from more cities. As with the other airports, there are numerous options for transportation from Newark Airport to Manhattan.

Use this link to Google maps to get exact directions from Newark Airport to your destination.

 

 

AirTrain + New Jersey Transit Trains 

The AirTrain connects the airport to New Jersey Transit trains and Amtrak trains that travel to Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan.  (If you are heading Lower Manhattan or Brooklyn, you could transfer at Newark Penn Station and take the PATH trains into the city.

For assistance with the subway, check out our blog posts on navigating the New York City subway and help with choosing which MetroCard to purchase.

The AirTrain operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and New Jersey Transit trains operate 21 hours a day, seven days a week. (There is no rail service between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. nightly). This means that at just about any time of day or night, this inexpensive and fast service is available to you. 

On weekdays, between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m., at least six NJ Transit trains arrive every hour at the airport station. Between 9 p.m. and midnight, four trains arrive every hour.

After claiming your baggage, follow the signs to the AirTrain station. You can purchase your train ticket from NJ Transit ticket vending machines at the AirTrain station. Board the AirTrain from your airport terminal and get off at the only stop it goes to –  Newark Liberty International Airport Station. From there you can take an NJ Transit train to Penn Station.  

Use this helpful NJ Transit Trip Planner to see schedules.

  • Total Cost: $13.00 Adult; $9.00 Child/Senior/Disabled
  • Travel Time: 30 minutes
  • Pros: One of the quickest options available, and also the cheapest.  The train will take you to Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan (32nd Street and 7th Avenue), which is a great place to get a taxi to your destination or connect with the subway. Trains come frequently.
  • Cons: You will have to maneuver your luggage around quite a bit, so this option can be difficult for those with a lot of luggage.  Also, depending on where you are staying in New York you could still have a bit of traveling left once you get to Penn Station.

 


Shuttle Buses from Newark Airport to Manhattan goairlink-van

Two companies, GoAirLink and SuperShuttle, are ride-sharing services that have the door-to-door benefits of a taxi but could be significantly cheaper, depending on the number in your group.  

You will be assigned to a van with other passengers heading to the same general area as you. You can request GoAirLink and SuperShuttle from the ground transportation desk in the baggage claim area. You can also book online in advance.

  • Cost: Depends on your destination from the airport. As a point of reference, the cost from JFK to Grand Central Station Terminal in Midtown Manhattan will cost you between $20-$25 per person. ($18/adult through Citysights if you use code save10)
  • Travel Time: Can vary.  If you are sharing a full van (11 passengers), you might be the first dropped off or you might be the last.
  • Pros: Has the convenience of a taxi and is much cheaper
  • Cons: Can take a very long time.  Passengers often have to wait at the airport until there are enough people for a mostly full van, so plan to sit and wait for a bit.

Tip: If you are considering purchasing a tourist attraction pass, City Sightseeing has a pass that comes with a bonus free shuttle ride from your Manhattan hotel to JFK, LaGuardia or Newark Airport using GoAirLink. 

It’s called the FreeStyle Pass Pick 7 and includes 3 days of hop-on-hop-off bus services, your choice of free entry to top attractions, a night tour a free ferry ride and much more.  

They also offer single shuttle rides from all airports for as low as $18/adult with code save10

 


Private Bus Operator from Newark Airport to Manhattan

newark-express

Newark Airport Express is a bus service that operates express service between Midtown Manhattan and Newark Airport.  Buses run 4 am – 1:00 am and depart every 15 minutes (every 30 minutes in the very early morning or late at night) and the trip to the airport is very quick.

  1. Grand Central Station (41st Street between Park & Lexington Avenues)
  2. Bryant Park (42nd Street & 5th Avenue)
  3. Port Authority Bus Terminal (41st Street between 8th and 9th Avenues)
  • Cost one way: Adults $16, Children 5-11 years $5, Children under 5 years ride FREE. Students 12-16 years: $10,
  • Travel Time: 45-60 minutes depending on traffic
  • Pros: a very inexpensive option, so a good idea for those on a budget.  Particularly convenient for anyone staying in Midtown.
  • Cons:  The buses frequently run late.  If you decide to use this option you should allow plenty of time so that you don’t miss your flight.

Taxi and Private Car Service from Newark  Click here to be taken to the section below.

 


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YELLOW TAXI OR PRIVATE CAR SERVICE FROM ALL AIRPORTS

taxi-at-airport

Yellow taxis (also called “cabs”) are definitely the most hassle-free option, but it is also the most expensive of the public transport services.

JFK to Manhattan by yellow taxi

  • Total Cost: There is a set fare from JFK to any destination in Manhattan, which is $52 (plus any bridge or tunnel tolls and a surcharge of $4.50 during peak hours 4 pm to 8 pm weekdays). Also, you should tip your driver 15% of the fare- about $8. Taxis will take cash or credit card.
  • Travel Time: Expect a minimum of 45 minutes, but it could take twice that long depending on traffic conditions.

Note: City regulations restrict the number of passengers in a yellow taxis to 4 (or 5 in a minivan), so if you have a larger party you may need to split up into different cabs or opt for a shuttle.

You should only use official yellow taxis and not accept rides from solicitors in the terminal. Many of them are operating illegally.  

Taking a taxi has several pros and cons:

Pros: Super easy door-to-door transport.  This is an easier option for travelers with a lot of luggage. You don’t have to think too much! If you are tired after your flight, you can take a taxi, sit back and let the taxi driver do all the thinking.

Cons: More expensive than the other public transport options listed.  After tip and bridge tolls you will pay over $60 to get to Manhattan.

 


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FREE NEW YORK WALKING TOURS

Once you have arrived, made your way from the airport to your accommodations, take a look at our free walking and food tours.  We offer over 30 different NYC tours. Check out our full tour calendar below for exact walking tour offerings and dates.

These are just some of our tours

  • If you are interested in the history of Manhattan back to its roots as the Dutch settlement or just would like to see sights like Wall Street and the World Trade Center, then consider taking our Lower Manhattan Tour.
  • Our most popular of the New York Tours is our SoHo, Little Italy and Chinatown Tour, as it covers three neighborhood in a manageable amount of time.
  • We also offer guided tours of Harlem and Brooklyn.
  • In town for a day trip or short weekend? Look at our free self-guided tours.

 

HAVE  A GREAT STAY IN NEW YORK CITY!


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