It still bemuses me that there is no direct mass transit service from New York City's major international airport - JFK - and the cultural, social, economic, commercial, and psycholgical hub that is Manhattan.
But the Air Train is better than nothing! From the poorly organized JFK terminals, you can cross the road to take the Air Train to Jamaica Station - for only $5.00. From here it's only a short walk (admittedly changing platforms and crossing a busy concourse) where you can connect to either the MTA subway or the Long Island Railroad into the city.
New York is blessed with three major international airports in its catchment area. One is the world famous John F. Kennedy airport, one of the busiest airports in the world, and handling many transatlantic flights to capital cities across Europe. LaGuardia Airport deals mostly with national flight, but also has flights to Canada and the Caribbean. Across the river in New Jersey is a third airport with easy access to New York City, and that's Newark Airport. Closest to Staten Island, Newark Airport is one of the busiest in the US, and has international flights all over the world, especially to Europe.
New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport (Airport Code: JFK), located in the extreme southeast of the Borough of Queens, is the largest of the three major airports in the New York City metropolitan area. An international hub for U.S. carriers American Airlines, Delta, and United Airlines, as well as a domestic hub for budget airline Jet Blue, JFK hosts an incredible 68 different airlines, from Aer Lingus to XL Airways. If you are arriving in New York from overseas, there's a good chance you will be arriving at this airport. JFK has 8 terminals, connected by the "All Terminals Loop" route of the AirTrain JFK light rail system. Unfortunately, if your transfer involves a change of terminals, you will need to exit security, take AirTrain JFK to your connecting terminal (the train is free for travel within the airport), then pass through security again to get to your gate. As a result, be sure to allow extra time if you need to change planes at JFK.
Ground transportation options to and from JFK are plentiful. The cheapest (and slowest) option is to take an MTA bus to connect to the Subway. Bus Q10 departs from the east side of the Terminal 4 arrivals roadway and connects to the A, E, and F trains. Bus Q3 departs from the west side of the Terminal 4 arrivals roadway and connects to the F train. Bus B15 departs from the west side of the Terminal 4 arrivals roadway and connects to the 3 and 4 trains. Fare is $2.50 in coins or prepaid Metrocard (Cost $1 for the card itself). Fare is $2.75 for a single-ride ticket purchased from vending machines. If using coins or single-ride ticket, be sure to get a transfer card from the fare machine on the bus so you don't have to pay again for the subway. Metrocards can be purchased at Hudson News outlets in the airport terminals.
A faster option is to use AirTrain JFK to connect to the Subway or Long Island Railroad. For this, use either the Jamaica route to connect to the Jamaica station (LIRR) and Sutphin Blvd/Archer Avenue subway station (E, J, and Z trains), or the Howard Beach route to connect to the Howard Beach/JFK Airport subway station (A train). Trains from each line depart every 5-10 minutes, 24 hours per day. Travel time is approximately 10 minutes. Fare is $5.00 for AirTrain, payable using a pay-per-ride Metrocard at Jamaica or Howard Beach (card vending machines available at the fare gates, cost $1 for the card itself). If you wish to purchase an unlimited ride Metrocard for your trip, it is now possible to purchase one with additional fare to pay for the AirTrain (see the website for details). Otherwise you will need to pay again to use the subway. Using LIRR will always require you to purchase an additional train ticket.
NYC Airporter is another option, departing all terminals for Grand Central Station, Penn Station, and the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Departures are approximately every 20-30 minutes, exact departure and travel time depends on traffic, but is normally 60-90 minutes. Fare is $16 one-way, $29 round-trip.
Car Rentals are also available at JFK, but be aware driving in the city itself is not easy to say the least. All major car rental companies have offices at JFK; you can take AirTrain JFK to Federal Circle station (free) to get to the rental offices.
Taxis are plentiful. To get to Manhattan from JFK, fare is a flat rate of $52 plus tolls. A 15-20% tip is expected for good service, which will bring your total cost to just under $70. WARNING: do not accept unsolicited "limousine" or unmarked "taxi" service from the airport. These are almost always a rip-off.
There are other options to get to and from the airport, to include charter buses and car services. Check the website for details.
New York has mainly 3 international airports. The JFK is the most famous and probably the largest. Be aware it has many terminals and you need to verify in advance to which one to go when you depart. It is located not too far from downtown Manhattan and easy connection by public transport.
(work in progress)
It is possible to 'shrink wrap' your case at JFK in the hall just prior to check in - at the time of writing, it cost $14 per case.
Ordinarily, this would seem to be overkill. However, if you are flying to a destination which has a bad reputation for baggage tampering (ie. things being stolen from your case at the airport), it's a good idea. For instance, I would usually advise people travelling into OR Tambo in Johannesburg who don't have lockable suitcases to do this, as theft from baggage has historically been a problem (although thankfully seems seem to have improved in the last couple of years).
More importantly, consider this option if you're transiting via an airport where theft from baggage tampering is an issue, especially if your case is going to be sitting around unattended in the bowels of the airport for a few hours, just 'asking' to be tampered with.
This time around, the reason why I had my (lockable) case shrinkwrapped was far more basic: the side lock had sheared off sometime during the journey between Vancouver and NYC, and this was a much cheaper and more practical option than buying a new case.
(work in progress)
One of my pet travel peeves is being asked to pay for luggage trolleys at airports - particularly one that provides such poor facilities as JFK. Being asked to pay for what is a basic service that is offered free in so many international airports gives such a bad initial impression and sets the expectation that from that moment on, as much money as possible is going to be extracted from the tourist.
Yes, luggage trolleys (baggage carts in local speak) at JFK cost $5 - yes, $5!!
The New York airport website states that trolleys have to be paid for in cash (quarters), which would be a nightmare for anyone arriving from overseas, who has been issued foreign exchange in notes. However, fortunately the machine in the Terminal 3 arrivals hall takes credit cards, so at least you don't have to have local coins, but I can't guarantee that this applies for the entire airport.
A warning to all - please do not use Groundlink ground transportation service (private car and limo transfers) from NY airports.
They have a system in place that results in massive surcharges. We recently booked a car to pick us up from our international arrival at JFK. The driver arrived over an hour late for our pick up and the company are trying to charge us, as we did not call them, despite us calling them 4 times and them not answering the call, and then saying that they would call us when the car arrived. Do not trust your credit card details to this firm as they deliver poor service and then charge you at least double if not triple the amount originally agreed to.
Even the people at the ground transportation desk had never heard of this company, and suggested to us that they are scammers.
We recently made a trip to NYC for a weekend and booked our car pick up from JFK airport with a company called Groundlink.
We found nobody at the terminal when we arrived, nobody answering the phone number contact we had and no staff member at the airport assistance desk had heard of the company. After much fruitless searching we finally got a call to go outside to a car over an hour late. Our return journey did go off with any problems. However since we have come home the company has tried to charge us three times, once for each journey and once for the 'failed' pick up - this one at nearly twice the rate to include 'wait time'! We are currently pursuing a refund through our credit cards but would wholly NOT recommend this service to anyone looking to book a transfer.
When flying to New York City, we usually consider LaGuardia, Kennedy, and even Newark airports to find the lowest fares but there ia another airport which should be added to the mix for flights from many parts of the country. Check the availability of, and fares for, flights to Islip (ISP) which is just a bit farther out on Long Island than Kennedy.
In case you are shopping on line for flights, the other three-letter airport codes are JFK for Kennedy, LGA for LaGuardia, and EWR for Newark.
Before finalizing your plans, you might also want to consider other travel and lodging costs associated with your trip. Lodging costs tend to be less in New Jersey than in Manhattan and you can use the train to and from the center of Manhattan for a $4 roundtrip.
If your activities are going to be limited to the five boroughs of New York City, renting a car is probably not a good idea. Parking is amazingly expensive and hard to find and maneuvering the streets of New York City may remove a lot of the joy from your trip.
If you would like to make your approach to New York more simply and less expensively, check out my nearby bus tip.
Thanks everyone for your help. Our plans to stay in the city fell through at the last minute so we wound up at the Comfort Inn in downtown Brooklyn about 2 miles from the Brooklyn Cruise terminal. My brother picked me up at JFK in a rental car and we took a car service to the cruise terminal the next afternoon. I can't find their card but the hotel called them for us and they were great it was only $15 for the trip. When we returned we called them again and it was around $35-$40 to JFK for the two of us. If I find the card from the car service I'll post it.
I didn't find the card but the number I called to reach the driver was 646-824-2312. I called at the end of the cruise and he was there in less than 30 minutes and they charge a flat fee which I think is better than paying the meter when traffic gets heavy.
There is no shared van service (like SuperShuttle) from JFK to Brooklyn so you have to use a car service or taxi.
The Airtrain is one of the easiest, most economical ways of getting to and from Kennedy Airport.
There are a few ways of boarding the Airtrain which is easily accessible by the LIRR to Jamaica Station; the E, J/Z subways to Sutphin Blvd-Archer Ave, Jamaica Station; and the A subway to Howard Beach/JFK Airport Station.
The price of the Airtrain (not including the subway ride) is $5 each way.
Check out their website for more detailed information.
Skip the Manhattan traffic and take a helicopter between JFK and Manhattan in 10 minutes flat.
U.S. Helicopters departs from Terminal 3 at JFK and has service to two Manhattan heliports: Midtown at East 34th Street and Downtown at 6 East River Piers.
There is no service on weekends or holidays. Cost from $109.
I visited NYC 3 times for business and I really like that city, but... last time I was there I did exactly what I was used to: jump off of Imigration right to the booth where it reads "Ground Transportation Service". I asked for a shared ride, this time to Long Island. The counter told me it was $45 and pointed me to a driver. The ride was fine until we got to my final destination in Long Island where the driver asked for $103 bucks telling that the ride was not shared because there was nobody else to share with me. I got really upset with that but had to pay. I've asked for a phone number to complain and found later that day that he gave me his own cell phone number. When I returned to JFK to fly back home I complained on the same booth but I'm still waiting for an answer and my money back.
This was the trap side, now goes the real tip: get the Air Train. It will take you secure and confortably to:
• the LIRR at Jamaica Station
• the E, J/Z subways at Jamaica Station
• the A subway at Howard Beach Station
• the NYC Transit Bus Lines Q20, Q24, Q30, Q31, Q43, Q44, Q54, and Q56 at Jamaica Station
• the Green Bus Lines Q6, Q8, Q9, Q40, Q41, and Q60 at Jamaica Station
• the Green Bus Line Q11, one block from Howard Beach Station, at 102nd St and 160th Ave
• you can ride around JFK
Its cheap, quick and secure. Don't be afraid and don't waste your money with "Ground Transportation Service", get the train.
Ther are various ways of getting downtown from JFK airport. It all depends on how many people in your travelling party and how much baggage you have.
The famous yellow cabs are situated just outside the arrivals terminal - good for a party of four with reasonable baggage. Flat rate cost per cab to anywhere downtown is $45 plus any tip you may wish to give.
New York Airport Bus Service
New York Airport Bus Service
Buy your ticket from the bloke outside the terminal standing next to the bus $15 each. Good for downtown drops for single people or couples with small baggage.
A frequent bus service connects with the New York City Transit Authority Howard Beach Subway station. The 'A' train takes around 90 minutes to Manhattan. Cost around $1.50. Good if you're on your own with very small luggage, can take you time and have a tight budget.
Thank god for the air train. After an eternity of awful cab rides or nightmarish old buses to Kennedy liberty has shown her light on NYC and you can now take the train to and from JFK. You have 2 options for going to and from JFK, the ari train is a monorail that connects all the terminals to:
1. The Howard Beach subway station, at which you can get the A Express train to Brooklyn and Manhattan. $2 for subway. It take about 15 minutes. The ride to lets say Penn station is another 30 minutes.
2. To the Jamaica LIRR / Subway station, where you can pick up the railroad to Long Island and Manhattan as well as the subway.
Takes 20+ minutes to Jamaica.
The Airtrain costs $5 + you pay the cost of the subway, so if you take the Howard Beach option only 7$ to Manhattan, what a bargain and less than an hour!