The best way to get to (and from) New York City's airports

JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark are the three biggest airports for New York City and actually getting there in time can be surprisingly difficult. If the traffic picks up then you’re going to be in a car for around 2 hours from Manhattan to JFK, and with bags, you’re probably not going to want to catch three different modes of public transport.

Based on my recent article about getting around New York, I thought I’d extend that a little bit further to the major airports. These are the places where most people start to second-guess themselves and decided to take a different method of transport than they normally do.

Option 1: A ride-sharing app

Probably the most common route, a trip to JFK right now for me while writing this is:

  • Juno Bliss: $77.88
  • UberX: $87.19
  • Lyft: $97.50
  • UberXL: $113.93
  • LyftXL: $125
  • Juno SUV: $155.49

Ouch. Some of these are going to take some serious convincing. as to whether it’s worth the cost.

Pros: Comfy & Relaxed

Risks/Cons: Traffic & Cost

Option 2: A cab

Sure, you may not have thought about a cab but did you know that to JFK and back, it’s a flat fare of $52 + taxes/tolls/tips!? The on-screen rate message should read “Rate #2- JFK Airport”, and there’s really nothing more to it than that. If you use the comparisons above, even with all the additions, you’re probably still looking at $65.

For LaGuardia and Newark, there’s an extra fee involved in additional to the normal metered fee, so it can get up there and is definitely worth calculating first!

Option 3: Public Transport

Now if you’re someone who gets nervous about getting to the airport on-time (especially at peak hour) like me, then you’re going to want to know this because most of the time, these lines are pretty consistent and will get you to the airport on time.

Sorry it’s so long-winded, it’s difficult!

Public Transport to JFK

The AirTrain links all passenger terminals with NYC’s Subway system at Jamaica and Howard Beach Stations. At Jamaica, you can take the E, J or Z lines. At Howard Beach, you can take the A line. All NYC Subway fares are separate from AirTrain, but they can be paid using any MetroCard. The fare is $2.75 USD.

So if you’re headed to Manhattan:

Destination Connection Estimated Cost* And Time
Midtown Manhattan New York Penn Station W. 34 St. MTA NYC Transit E Subway at Jamaica Station $7.75
50 minutes
Lower Manhattan below W. 14 St. MTA NYC Transit A Subway at Howard Beach Station $7.75
60 minutes
Upper Manhattan W. 125 St. MTA NYC Transit E Subway at Jamaica Station. In Manhattan transfer to a subway or bus for final destination. $7.75
75 minutes
Southern Queens, Northern Brooklyn MTA NYC Transit J or Z Subway at Jamaica Station $7.75
50 minutes

Public Transport to LaGuardia

A little more complicated than JFK but there are lots of options:

Travelers leaving or heading to Terminal A can take the Q47 bus, with connection to the 7, E, F, M, R subway lines at 74 St/Roosevelt Ave or the M60 SBS to Manhattan.

For a full summary head to LGA’s website.

Arrival Departure Terminal MTA Bus Service MTA Bus Neighborhood Served MTA Bus Connection To Subway And Rail
Terminals
A, B, C, D
M60 SBS
(Pay before boarding curbside)

Queens (Astoria)

Manhattan (North of 59 St) and Bronx

Westchester, Putnam or Dutchess Counties and Connecticut

N, W subway lines at 31 St/Astoria Blvd

2, 3, 4, 5, 6, A, B, C, D subway lines at 125 St  and 1 subway line at 116 St

Metro-North Railroad at Harlem-125 St

Terminals
B, C, D

Q70 SBS LaGuardia Link

(Pay before boarding curbside)

Queens (except Astoria, Elmhurst, Rego Park, Corona, Flushing)

Manhattan (Midtown or South of 59 St)

Long Island

7, E, F, M, R subway lines at 74 St/Roosevelt Av

7, E, F, M, R subway lines at 74 St/Roosevelt Av

Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Woodside station at 61 St/Roosevelt Av

Terminal A
Q47
Queens (Glendale, Jackson Heights)
7, E, F, M, R subway lines at 74 St/Roosevelt Av
Terminals
B, C, D
Q72
Queens (Elmhurst, Rego Park)
M, R subway lines
at 63 Dr/Rego Park
Terminals
B, C, D
Q48
Queens (Corona, Flushing)
7 subway line at Main St/Roosevelt Av

Public Transport to Newark

Two options for Newark depending on what you prefer, air train, or bus!

For the Air Train:

If you’re departing from NYC Penn Station or Newark, take NJ TRANSIT or Amtrak to Newark Liberty International Airport Station. It takes about five minutes to get from AirTrain to the train platforms and between seven and 11 minutes to get to your terminal, depending on the terminal.

Not from Rob O.: Penn Station is horrible with bags and the Subway platform is a long walk from the NJ Transit section (which does require a separate ticket).

Or the bus:

Express Bus runs between Newark Liberty International Airport & New York City. The Express Bus runs from 4 a.m. until 2 a.m./ 365 days. The cost is $16 for one way, or $28 for round trip. Each bus stops at all 3 New York stops.

Where To Board New York Stop
Terminal A — Located on Level 1, outside at Bus Stop 5 Grand Central Station 41st Street between Park and Lexington avenues
Terminal B — Located on Level 1, outside at bus stop 2 Bryant Park 42nd Street and 5th Avenue
Terminal C — Located on Level 1, outside at bus stop 5 & 6 Port Authority Bus Terminal 41st Street between 8th and 9th avenues

In summary

My rule of thumb: If I’ve got luggage, I’m in a car. Otherwise, it’s a toss-up as to how much energy I have and how nervous I am about getting to the airport on time. Just LEAVE EARLIER THAN YOU CALCULATED! It will always take longer.

Thanks to Annie Z from Facebook for the idea for this article.

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