New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport is the Busiest of New York Airports. And one of the busiest in the US. It handles over 56 million passengers yearly. So to keep all that air traffic away from the city the Airport is inconveniently located around 12miles from downtown Manhattan. This means that one of the first problems you must solve for your trip is sorting out transportation from JFK airport to Manhattan. This guide is intended to help you find the best transport option for You. So we will cover the good, the bad, the cheap, the not so cheap and the Fast and the Slow.
The First choice to make is whether you want to take some form of private hire or public transport. NAturally, Public transport is cheaper but can be clunky, whereas the Private Hire options give a more personal experience but are more costly. For Speed, Public Transport is definitely the way to go as you bypass the horrendous New York Traffic completely.
Public Transport – Air Train and Subway
The Cheapest way into the City is using a combined Air Train and Subway Trip. This will cost $7.75 (+$1.00 metro card) Which is a combination of the $5 Air Train Fee and the Subway $2.75 (if you plan on using the Subway a lot a 7-day unlimited pass can be purchased for $32 which save on 13 trips and over).
This Option is also often the Fastest, Assuming your hotel is quite near a Subway stop (most are). Using the Subway and Air Train means you are not subject to New York’s Diabolical traffic. SO you should be at your destination in as little as 50mins, even at rush hour.
So it’s cheap and it’s fast, what’s not to like? Well, the Drawback is New York’s Subway system is a little antiquated and most stations have stairs, instead of escalators or elevators. With luggage, this can be an issue. Most stations are not too deep and for normal transport, most people can deal with the few steps but with 23+kg each of luggage, it can a be pain. It’s still our first choice, But it’s not everyone’s idea of a perfect start to their trip.
Also, The Subway can be a little daunting at first so some people may not want to deal with that first thing off the plane.
Getting the Air Train
Once through immigration in the arrivals terminal look for signs for the Airtrain. the train Services all terminals of the airport. For Midtown or Uptown you need the Air train to Jamaica Center Station and for Downtown take the Air Train to Howard Beach Station.
Transferring to the Subway
Once at your Station you will need to purchase a Metro card and board the Correct Subway train to your destination.
Midtown/Uptown – Jamaica Center Station: Here you need the E line which will take you to Penn Station via stops along 51st street Midtown. You may need to transfer here to another Train if your hotel is not in this vicinity. A full Subway Map can be found here.
Downtown – Howard Beach Station: At Howard Beach, you will need to board the A train that runs to the heart of Downtown at Fulton Street. You can also use this train if you are going to Soho, Greenwich or Chelsea. A full Subway Map can be found here.
If you want to avoid the hassle of Lugging your bags up the stairs then you will need to spend a little more and run the gauntlet of New York’s Traffic.
This journey can Easily Be reversed to get to JFK from Manhattan for your return trip.
Taxis From JFK Airport
Taxis into the City from JFK are run as a FIXED fare. So where ever you are going you will pay $52 for the fare. You will need to factor in the Tip and any Tolls and Surcharges. So expect a Fare Northwards of $60. But the good thing is there will be no extra Added for poor traffic.
Meter Fares are calculated as a combination of distance and time spent in traffic so on a normal metered fare you are paying Extra for the joy of sitting in traffic! With the Fixed Fare that’s not the case. So all you have to worry about is the delay. Traffic is notoriously bad in New York and if you arrive at Rush Hour Expect a long arduous journey. Upwards of two hours in some cases. In more normal traffic expect the journey to be around an hour depending on where in New York you are going.
Getting a taxi really couldn’t be easier Just leave your Terminal and they will be queuing up at the taxi ranks to whisk you off. Make sure you check the Fixed fare, 99% of Taxi Drivers will automatically do this but you never know. This also means you are not going to be stung with the age-old “long route” trick. Where drivers take tourists the longest way to up the fare. A fixed fare means it would only cost them.
A Taxi is really the easiest option. While not Cheap it’s not too bad considering the journey is quite substantial. When Leaving simply ask your Concierge to get you a taxi. They may try and offer you a Shuttle service but read on.
Be Warned, we have heard tales of people missing flights due to being stuck for several hours in Taxis on the way to JFK. If you flight is at a busy time, leave A LOT of time to get to the airport of hp on the Subway instead!
Uber from JFK Airport
Uber is fast becoming our weapon of choice to get around most Cities, However, in New York we still favor the Subway. Especially from the Airport. Sure Uber is super convenient, but the technology does nothing to blunt New York Traffic.
They are also pretty much on par with taxis as far as cost goes. We still use Uber from time to time in the City, normally in the evening when we are dressed for the town. But for airport runs, we still hit the Subway. However, if you are considering a Cab, but are well versed with the Uber Ride-Sharing App, then feel free to chose Uber instead, there is little to separate the two options.
JFK Airport Shuttles
Shuttle services on the face of it offer a cheap efficient easy way to get to the City for a fixed Price. However, the Reality can be quite a poor experience. As a Shuttle is not Private you have to share with other people. If everyone was going to the same place that would be fine, but that’s rarely the case.
The Problem with sharing isn’t an unhealthy aversion to other people, but If you are first in the Shuttle you will need to wait for others to arrive and get in too. The shuttle only leaves when full. It will then carry out a pre-prescribed route where you could be last to be dropped off. If this happens it could be two hours (more in Rush hour) until you are at your hotel. It really isn’t worth it to save a little cash.
Taxi’s and Car Services offer all the advantages of a Shuttle with none of the downsides, but at a higher cost.
Hiring a private car service is a fabulous way to get to your hotel. It’s not the cheapest method but you may be surprised how affordable it is, often slightly cheaper than a Taxi (representative quote from Carmel cars JFK-Penn Station $50.00 Plus Tip And Tolls )
The Car will be waiting for you at the airport and will take you to any pre-arranged destination. It couldn’t be simpler. The only downside is it needs a little pre-thought and planning as you will need to book in advance. But that is no big deal. You will then have a Man waiting for you at the airport, ready to whisk you straight to your hotel…or the nearest traffic jam. As great as car service is it can’t bypass New York’s traffic.
Generally, we just don’t recommend Hire Cars in New York. Parking is sparse and Expensive, the Traffic is hell and you are unlikely prepared to fight through it the way a Taxi Driver would. With public transport and Taxis/Uber are so readily available why bother. The only reason is if New York is your First Port of Call of a Road Trip. In that case, JFK has all the Rental car options you would expect from a Major International Airport. But even we would consider seeing New York the conventional way before heading back to the Airport (Probably Newark) to get a Hire Car for your Road Trip.
Often the Last thing you want to be thinking about after a long arduous flight is another grinding slog to your Hotel. With our Guide Hopefully, you will find the easiest and most suitable option for you. Taxies are the no-fuss easy solution, but the most expensive along with Uber. With a little forward planning, a car service will get you, door to door, with no fuss at all. The Airtrain and Subway is both the quickest option and also the cheapest but has the downside of being awkward and involving heavy lifting, Still, the Subway is our preferred option but if you don’t want to carry your heavy case’s up a few flights of stairs it won’t be for you.
Have Your Say
Let us know in the comments below If you have any experience of getting to and from JFK Airport? Or drop us a comment if you want us to let you know the best Subway route to your particular hotel? We are more than happy to give you a personal recommendation. However, you get to your Hotel We wish you a very pleasant stay in New York.