I often get asked what is the best way to get to JFK Airport.  Asking for directions to JFK sounds like a simple question but the answer is it depends.  Are you pressed for time? Are you trying to save money? Do you have a lot of bags?  What terminal are you going to? Will you be traveling to JFK during rush hour (7-9 am or 4-7pm)? You could choose from the subway, the Long Island Railroad (LIRR), taxi/uber/car service, express bus, or a door to door airport shuttle.  I thought it might be helpful if I shared directions to JFK airport and the pros and cons of each option.

Planes parked at the gates at JFK
Planes parked at the gates at JFK

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Subway to JFK

The cheapest way to get to JFK is the subway (A or E train).  Coming from midtown, I take the E to Sutphin Blvd Archer Avenue stop which connects to the Jamaica airtrain station.  You would then take the airtrain to JFK.  If you are coming from Brooklyn, to get to JFK by subway, you would take the A to Howard Beach and then the airtrain.  

During peak hours the E comes pretty frequently, but late at night or early in the morning you may have to wait.   When the E is running express, it really doesn’t take that long, but when the E is running local or has service issues it can seem like it takes forever.  Also, depending on where you get on the subway you may have to deal with some stairs, which can be a pain with luggage.    

Cost: The subway fare is the standard $2.75 (or included if you have an unlimited metrocard) and then the airtrain is another $5. Total – $7.75 (or $5 if you have an unlimited metrocard) each way.

LIRR to JFK Airport

I would pick up the LIRR train to JFK from Penn Station, but there are stops in Brooklyn and Queens as well.  The Long Island Railroad also connects with the airtrain at Jamaica station.  It is faster than the subway but does not run as frequently.  It is also more expensive.  You will need to allow extra time to purchase the ticket and also figure out what platform the train will be on.  Since the schedule is not as convenient and it takes me longer to get to Penn Station than the subway, I don’t think it really saves enough time to justify the extra cost.  It is also difficult with luggage.  

Cost: From Penn Station it is $10 each way peak or $7.25 off peak or even more if you buy your ticket onboard the train. You also still have to pay the $5 JFK airtrain fare. Total – $15 peak times and $12.25 off peak each way

Taxi/Uber/Car Service

As long as it is not rush hour and there are no accidents, this will be the fastest way to JFK airport, but it is also the most expensive.  There is fixed cab fare from JFK to Manhattan of $52 plus toll and tip.  Sometimes drivers will use the fixed fare going to the airport as well.  Uber will be about the same (unless there is surge pricing).  I have found deals on uber pool as low as $35 including toll, so that could be a good option especially if there are two people in your party.

Car Services vary a lot in price and many need to be booked in advance.  Often times you can find a discounted price on groupon.  I should mention you should never accept a ride from the drivers that come up and ask you if you need a taxi.  This is against the law and many of these drivers may not be properly insured.  Lastly, you don’t have to worry about carrying your bags around.  

Cost: Quotes for fares do not include tax or tip.  The fare for taking a car to JFK can vary depending on where exactly you are coming from, what type of car, and if you are able to get a discount and range from $40 – $150.  However, this can be split between everyone traveling, there are no fees for additional passengers.

Bus – NYC Airporter to JFK

The NYC Airporter bus can be a good option for getting to JFK from Manhattan, especially if you are close to Grand Central and have a lot of bags.  The driver will help you load (and unload) your luggage in the back of the bus.  It is a lot cheaper than a car, and you can buy tickets in advance online or on the bus.  However, the bus only runs every 20-30 minutes and can be delayed if there is traffic.  It also has to make stops at every terminal, so if your flight is at the last terminal if will take longer.  According to the NYC Airporter website, the travel time on the bus from Grand Central to JFK is 90 minutes.  The bus does have free WIFI, although it has never worked that well for me.  There are also power outlets so you can charge your electronics.  

Cost: $30 round trip or $17 each way

Some NYC souvenirs in the shops at JFK.
Some NYC souvenirs in the shops at JFK.

Door to Door JFK Airport Shuttle

Go Airlink NYC offers an airport shuttle to JFK which picks you up at your door.  Most likely you will also be making stops to pick up other passengers, so it is not going to be the fastest option.  However, since it is door to door service, it could make things a lot easier if you have a lot of luggage, and so the extra time might be worth it.  Click here to book your JFK Airport Shuttle

Cost: Rides start at $25 per person each way.

So in summary, when I am traveling for work, I think the best way to get to JFK from Manhattan is to take a car service or taxi, unless it is during rush hour.  However, if I am trying to be frugal or it is rush hour, I will take the subway.  If I have a lot of luggage and want to be frugal I would take the bus.

So what do you think is the best route to JFK? Have a safe flight!



Expert Tips for Transportation between JFK and NYC :

  • Your priorities will dictate the best way to get to JFK from NYC.
  • The cheapest way to get to JFK is the subway.
  • The fastest way to get to JFK is a taxi/uber/car service as long as it is not rush hour.  During rush hour the subway is probably the fastest.
  • If you have a lot of luggage, you should consider either a car or the bus.
  • Try to allow for extra travel time to JFK whenever possible. You never know when there can be traffic or train delays and I don’t want you to miss your flight!

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The Best Way to Get to JFK
A travel blog that discusses the pros and cons of the different ways to get to NYC's JFK Airport and which ones are best in various situations
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12 thoughts on “The Best Way to Get to JFK

  • Really useful advice for people coming into NYC without a clue, like I did a few years ago. We took a taxi from the airport because we didn’t know any better. The taxi driver watched us struggle with our bags when we got into and out of the taxi (it’s the only place in the world a taxi driver has not offered to help with bags), and then added a large tip when he told us the price at the end (also, the only place in the world where the taxi driver asked outright for a tip). I was furious. I didn’t take any more taxis in NYC after that – and next time I go I will take the subway, for sure!

    1. Wow Elaine I am sorry that happened to you. I really hope most taxi drivers are not like that. I don’t think they would try that on a NYer because we wouldn’t tolerate it. I would stand there and ask for help with my bags. If he didn’t want to help I would just take the next taxi. As far as tip goes, yes that is wrong. You can report that kind of stuff through the free city hotline – 411. Sometimes even threatening to report it solves the problem.

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