How we did it: Navigating from JFK to NYC

This is three of a three-part series on navigating from New York’s airports. Read about Newark here and LaGuardia here

If you’re traveling internationally from New York, you will probably leave from JFK. The airport offers great connections to destinations around the world. Unfortunately, it can be expensive to get there and take way more time than expected. Be warned….Leave plenty of time.

Pure Public Transit
JFK can be accessed for just $2.75 each by creatively using buses. Be warned, it will take the most time.

The bus stop for all MTA buses is located at Terminal 5. You can use the free portion of the AirTrain to transfer between terminals.

The B15 connects to the 3, C, L and J/M/Z subway lines, which all go to Manhattan.

The Q3 runs roughly along the same route as the paid portion of the AirTrain. It connects to the F train.

The Q10 also heads north from JFK, connecting to the A, E and F trains as it heads for Kew Gardens.

All will take considerably more time than other routes. There are also no or minimal luggage racks on these buses.

Once we planned to take the Q3 to JFK (40 minutes), but NYC Subways had other ideas thanks to a lengthy signal delay. Thankfully, the AirTrain was our savior that allowed us to make the flight. The AirTrain took only 8 minutes to travel from Jamaica to the terminals.

The fare is $5, which is paid as you exit or enter the Jamaica-Sutphin Blvd or Howard Beach station. It does not include a transfer to buses or subway, which is an additional $2.75.

Subway is the cheapest way to get to your destination. It’s pretty reliable through Queens and you can get almost anywhere from Jamaica. The E train takes about 43 minutes to Penn Station.

Many AirTrain advertisements encourage travelers to use the LIRR. At 26 minutes, it’s certainly a quicker route to Penn Station, but I find it less convenient overall. This is because Penn Station is a labyrinth to navigate with luggage. Unless your hotel is near the station, you’re probably going to end up using the subway.If you boarded near the start of the line in Jamaica you will have a seat, but by the time you get on at Penn, you’ll probably have to stand. It also cost more at $7.50.

NYC Airporter provides “official” service from the airport to 42nd street. At $19, we find this service inefficient and overpriced. Unless you’re staying near a drop-off location you will have to take public transit to your hotel. If you’re traveling with two or more people, you’re better off taking a taxi for nearly the same amount of money.

Instead, consider using SuperShuttle. It cost about the same and will drop you off at your hotel.
This is a great option for single travelers. If you have two or more consider taking a taxi or car service.

Taxi/Car Service
Unlike other NYC airports, taxis are a flat-fare between JFK and Manhattan. You should see on-screen “Rate #02-JFK Airport,” the driver should NOT use the meter.

The fare is $52, plus tolls (that you should avoid). There are also several fees that bring the total closer to $53 outside of rush-hour.

You can also find reputable car services (black car) online. Often, they are a few dollars cheaper. This could be a better option for families or groups of two or more who don’t want to take public transit.

Uber, Lyft and other rideshare apps can pick up at JFK, too.

Should I avoid the toll?
Yes. As a passenger, it is your right to dictate the route your driver takes. Since this is a flat-fare trip it is in your best interest to tell the driver to avoid the toll by using one of the free East River crossings. It may mean a longer trip, so plan accordingly.

Avoid anyone soliciting transportation. It is illegal and they may be uninsured. Check with a Port Authority Customer Care representative if you need any help. They’re wearing bright red blazers near a blue kiosk in the baggage area
How we did it: Navigating from JFK to NYC How we did it: Navigating from JFK to NYC Reviewed by Brandon on January 17, 2018 Rating: 5

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