This article will cover:
- -JFK AirTrain - Travel around the airport for free and connect to the subway.
- -Bus - Cheapest option for getting into the city.
- -Taxi - Arrive in the city like a true New Yorker.
- -Uber, Lyft and Via - Convenience, convenience, convenience.
- -Airport shuttle - Reliable and reputable.
- -Rental cars - Those who are their own chauffeur.
- -Private car services - Calling all comfort lovers.
- -Limousine - Travel can be luxurious too.
- -Helicopter - Adventure-seekers.
Find a quiet corner of the airport and discover which is the best option for getting into New York City and how long it will take. After that, read about what to do in New York on a layover, or check out these JFK Airport memes. Check out our guide to flying with pets if you're taking your goodboy with you on this trip.
Getting From the Plane to the Exit
Just landed at JFK Airport, the sixth busiest airport in the USA? Once off the plane and connected to the Airport WiFi, follow the signs and the flow of passengers to get to baggage claim. In all terminals, passengers are required to take an escalator or stairs to reach the Arrivals Level. If unsure, check out the JFK Airport website for maps of the terminals.
After luggage collection, follow the signs to the immigration checkpoint. It should be close to the baggage claim. The Customs and Border Control website provides estimated waiting times depending on the terminal, time of day and if you're a US or non-US citizen. The rumors about the long lines at JFK's immigration are true - passengers can spend hours in them. While waiting, check out WikiHow's comprehensive guide for how to travel in an airport, and the Telegraph's 20 best things to do in New York.
The JFK AirTrain is the most accessible option for leaving the airport. The AirTrain stops at all terminals on the Arrivals Level, and travelling between terminals is free. To get into the city on the AirTrain, use the Jamaica or Howard Beach lines.
The cost to travel to each of these stations is $5, which passengers pay on arrival. Patrons are only able to pay with a MetroCard, which are available for purchase in the airport. They are also available to buy at subway station booths, MetroCard vending machines and other vendors, and they can be used on subways and buses in NYC.
It should take 15-20 minutes to arrive to Jamaica station from JFK. Schedules for Jamaica subway station are on the MTA (Metropolitan Transport Authority) website. Subway fares cost $2.75 per trip, and are separate from the AirTrain. These fees are able to be paid with a MetroCard.
From Jamaica station, the Long Island Railroad line links with midtown Manhattan, downtown Brooklyn and all Long Island destinations. This option is usually faster than taking the subway and more relaxing, according to Lonely Planet.
Alternatively, passengers can catch the AirTrain to Howard Beach station (it takes around 30 minutes). Passengers must take an escalator to exit the AirTrain station and enter the regular Howard Beach station. From this station, the A line connects to Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx. The MTA website for a schedule for the A line.
Buses are a cheap way to get around New York. A number of buses operate between JFK Airport and Queens and Brooklyn (and beyond if using the subway). A one-way bus ticket costs $2.75 (using a MetroCard is easiest). The following bus lines leave from JFK: Q3, Q6, Q7, Q10, Q10 LTD and B15 (click on each line to see it's schedule). Most of these buses run for 24 hours a day, but check the JFK Airport website to see the exact times of operation.
Catching a taxi is an easy option for leaving JFK Airport. Taxis heading towards Manhattan from the airport have a flat rate of $52. During peak hours an extra $4.50 is added. Four passengers can fit into a taxi, and five can fit into a minivan. If a group has minimal luggage, this is a good option.
Taxi ranks can be found in every terminal at JFK on the Arrivals Level, beyond the baggage claim. Passengers may have to stand in line for a while to hail a taxi, or they can be reserved from inside the airport. Only take official Yellow Cabs, as any other taxi services will not be legitimate. JFK's website has examples of the fare prices for The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and more.
First-time travelers in New York should remember to tip taxi drivers. The rule is to generally tip between 10% and 20% of the fare, which will be calculated on the screen. TripSavvy has a great guide for tipping in New York.
Not sure whether to take a taxi or an Uber? Have a look at Investopedia's in-depth breakdown of the issue.
Uber, Lyft and Via
Getting around New York with a ride-sharing app is easy and cheaper than taxis. Uber, Lyft and Via can be downloaded to Apple and Android mobile phones via app stores. Passengers are required to choose which service they would like, which includes carpooling, private vehicles and wheelchair-accessible vehicles.
After choosing the pick-up vehicle, the app will ask the passenger about their location (which terminal). Choose the closest gate or door number - there will be signs. If in doubt, ask an airport attendant.
Once the pick-up point is selected, passengers can track the location of their driver on the app. The app will provide an estimate cost for the trip, which can also be found on the website. For an example of the prices, an Uber Pool will cost around $60 from JFK to Manhattan, with the other vehicle options increasing in price.
Airport Shuttles, Shared and Private Car Services
Hiring a private or shared car service is a good choice for those who like to plan in advance. There are many authorized companies to choose from which are listed on the JFK Airport website. TripAdvisor also has a list of the highest rated shuttle companies in New York, as well as Yelp.
When booking in advance, passengers will be required to tell the shuttle company what time they are arriving, into which terminal, and what their flight number is. If passengers book the shuttle after arriving at the airport, waiting times can take up to 30-45 minutes.
Go AirLink NYC gives estimated costs from JFK to New York and beyond. For example, a trip from JFK to Manhattan in a shared vehicle (one piece of luggage and one piece of hand luggage are allocated to each passenger) costs around $20. A private 11 passenger van costs $195, and a private 14 passenger van will be around $220.
Passengers can be picked up from any of the taxi ranks or pick-up areas, which are located in every terminal on the Arrivals Level.
Limousine and Helicopter
JFK Airport's website recommends Connecticut Limo, an authorized limousine service. US Limo and Taxi and NY City Limo are the highest rated New York limousine hire companies on Google, and New York Helicopter Hire is one of the top helicopter companies. Uber has just announced that it will begin helicopter transfers from Manhattan to JFK Airport for $200 in early July 2019.
Passengers can expect the prices of limousine hire to range from $150 to $2000 (depending on the size of the vehicle) with the option to choose other sports cars, stretch Hummers and 1960s Rolls Royces. A ride from JFK to Manhattan in a helicopter will cost around $200+, but there won't be any traffic jams.
Hiring a helicopter or limousine is straight forward. Passengers can call or book a service online, and provide their arrival time and flight details. After disembarking the plane and emerging through immigration, the limousine or helicopter driver will be waiting in the arrivals area, usually with the passenger's name on a sign. It doesn't get much easier than that.
Get Picked Up by a Friend
Getting picked up by a friend is one of the easiest options for getting out of JFK Airport. Once off the plane and through baggage claim and immigration (both of which are located on the Arrivals Level in every terminal), passengers should exit the airport and go to the designated pick-up area. JFK's website has maps of the airport and detailed maps for every terminal. If unsure, find an airport employee and ask.
There are two free parking lots called Cell Phone Lots where drivers can wait (inside their car) until the passenger has left the airport. The first is located off the Van Wyck Expressway and the second is located off the JFK Expressway, and both are around 5 minutes drive away from the terminals.
There are also paid parking lots at every terminal. Terminal 1 and 2 share the Green Lot, Terminal 4 uses the Blue Lot, Terminal 5 the Yellow Lot, Terminal 7 the Orange Lot, and Terminal 8 the Red Lot. JFK's website has a live chart of how full the parking lots are in real time. The Green, Orange and Red parking lots cost $8 per hour, and the Blue and Yellow Lots cost $10 per hour.
To pay for parking, drivers can use cash or credit card (taking the lane out of the parking lot that says "Cash/Credit Card"), pay with the ExpressPay machine in the terminal, or pay with an E-Z Pass Plus.
Remember that when drivers stop in the pick-up area, cars are not allowed to turn off their engines or linger. Make it short and sweet. Quick tip: passengers should tell their friend or family member to check JFK's Flight Tracker and JFK Airport's Twitter so they're aware of any delays (which are not uncommon at JFK Airport).
Rent a car
Those who prefer to make their own way around the city have the option of renting a car for the duration of their trip in New York. While the JFK Airport doesn't offer any preferred rental car companies, Enterprise and National are Google's highest rated car rental companies in New York. These services are best booked in advance through their websites, but it is also possible to book inside JFK Airport.
When booking the services online, the customer is required to enter the pickup location (JFK Airport) and the amount of time the car is needed for. Customers can choose from a number of different cars (including compact cars, SUVs and utes) which range from around $45 to $125 per day.
There are a number of options for pick-up locations, but the closest ones to the airport are accessible via the AirTrain. If booking a hire car from the airport, the service counters can be found on the Arrivals Level of every terminal in the airport (once passengers have passed through baggage claim and immigration). They will be close to the taxi booking counters. If unsure, have a look at this map of the terminals in JFK airport, or ask a member of airport staff or read JFK New York Airport Parking's article about the different car rental services available at JFK.
TripSavvy suggests that renting a car in New York can be expensive and parking in the city is hard to find, so unless passengers are traveling outside the city, they should consider taking public transport instead.
Still Having Trouble?
Still unsure about getting out of JFK? Here are some links that might help.
13 Essential Apps to Explore New York City by Geeky Explorer
Booking.com New York (for finding a last minute hotel)
JFK Airport General Contact Information: (718) 244-4444
JFK Airport automated options: (718) 244-4168 / 4266
JFK Airport General Parking Inquiries: (347) 238-3231
All Airport Information - (718) 244-4444
Parking Customer Service Manager (during business hours): (888) 250-8277
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