Before you decide on which transport method to take, consider the following travel considerations. You can filter your travel options based on certain circumstances:
- If you have several bulky luggage with you, it is a wise choice to cross out the subway option which may involve multiple train transfers, climbing up the stairs and crowd during peak hours.
- If you travel with several companions, taking multiple taxicabs can be costly. Worse, it could cost you even more time when you navigate during the rush hour.
- Speaking of taxis, it is best to deal with cabs stationed just outside the baggage claim area as they’re more likely to get you a fair deal than the others. Also, when paying tips, some credit card machines installed in cabs charge a default 20% tip, which you can change manually down to 10% to 15%.
Travel options from John F. Kennedy International Airport to Manhattan
1. Ride share
We listed this one ahead of taxis or car hire because this method allows you to save costs by choosing to ride with strangers which is a relatively safe thing to do in NYC. Services by Lyft, Uber, Via, and others may also grant discounts and offer limited-time promotions.
Price: $30 to $60 + tips; 50 minutes
Taking a taxicab at JFK costs a flat fee of $52 plus toll surcharges, tip to driver and a possible rush-hour surcharge of $4.50 from 4 pm to 8 pm. Although a fixed-fee policy is in place, it won’t hurt to tell the driver about the $52 fare just before you take the ride. Once confirmed, you can expect the journey from JFK to Manhattan within 50 to 70 minutes. Be aware that the passenger is responsible for paying tolls. As a standard practice, please tip your driver for good service and a safe journey.
Price: $52 + toll charges + rush-hour fee + tip; 50 – 70 minutes
3. NYC Express bus
The NYC Express bus picks up only from Terminals 1, 2, 4, and 8 to Grand Central Terminal and Times Square (42nd st between 5th & 6th, same block as Bryant Park). This is the mode of transport that is cheaper compared to the first two options although it takes a longer time (90 minutes). Service is available between 11 am and 7 pm.
- JFK terminal 1 – Agents/podium at the ground transportation welcome center
- JFK terminal 2 – (look for NYC Express sign at curbside) – No agents at this terminal
- JFK terminal 4 – Agents/podium at the ground transportation welcome center
- JFK terminal 8 – Agents/podium at the ground transportation welcome center
Each trip departs from JFK every 30 minutes. If you come from terminals other than 1, 2, 4 and 8, you need to take the free AirTrain monorail service.
It is advisable to book your seats online. 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.
Price: $19; 90 minutes
Notes and travel tips:
4. AirTrain + Long Island Rail Road (LIRR)
Intended mainly for workers coming into Manhattan from the outskirts of the city, the Long Island Rail Road is a commuter train that runs frequently and is also conveniently located from JFK. During weekday rush hours, trains going to New York’s Penn Station every 5 – 10 minutes. The closest LIRR station from JFK is the Jamaica Station. It is also possible to get to Manhattan from Howard Beach, the other LIRR Station, but that is a long journey.
From the luggage claim area, follow the signs to the AirTrain shuttle and check the label ‘Jamaica Train’. You don’t have to pay for the fare once you enter the train; you’ll only do so when you get off. Take the ride until the last stop at Jamaica Station. Expect this ride to take up to 20 minutes.
Once you exit the AirTran at Jamaica Station, you’ll find MetroCard vending machines. You will need to buy a $5 AirTrain MetroCard. Please be aware that this vending machine won’t handle Unlimited Ride MetroCards for the NYC subway system; you can get such tickets at your destination station. Machines offer a $7.25 combined ticket which also covers a single journey subway ticket, it is generally not worth it.
Swipe the AirTran MetroCard to exit the AirTrain network through the turnstiles, and turn left onto the bridge over the LIRR trains.
From the display panels, you will determine the next train to Penn Station, which tracks where you can board, and whether the trip would be considered peak ($9.50) or off-peak ($7) for weekday travels. If your travel falls on a weekend, you can look for CityTicket which is discounted at $4.25.
The LIRR journey takes about 25 minutes.
Price: $5 AirTrain + $9.5 peak / $7 off-peak / $4.5 weekend CityTicket
5. AirTrain + NYC subway
If you travel to New York City involves plenty of subway rides, and only carry light bags in your flight, you might want to buy the Unlimited Ride MetroCard right upon your arrival at JFK. But since there is no direct subway line that links to the airport, you still need to take the AirTrain transfer from JFK to the Jamaica Station of the Long Island Rail Road network. From there you can take the New York subway trains at E, J, and Z subway lines after buying the MetroCard or a single journey subway ticket.
Unlimited MetroCard costs 7-day at $32, reduced at $16 / 30-day for $121, reduced at $60.50.
If you don’t expect to take a frequent subway ride, simply get a single journey NYC subway ticket at $2.75.
Price: $5 AirTrain + MetroCard / $2.75; 60-90 minutes to midtown Manhattan
Notes and Travel Tips:
- Hold on to your MetroCard since it can be refillable; it costs $1 to get a new card.
- Strangers may approach and offer to sell used MetroCard. Ignore them and only buy at designated vending machines.
There are several ways to get out of John F. Kennedy International Airport towards Manhattan. Each has its pros and cons in terms of cost, duration of travel, comfort, and timing.