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I have traveled with my family a few times to New York City – with my daughter for her birthday a few years ago and more recently a layover with my son on our way to Greece. Since we were staying in mid-town Manhattan (once at the Sheraton Times Square and once at the Wingate by Wyndham Midtown Manhattan), none of the 3 New York City airport options (JFK / LGA / EWR) were markedly better than any of the others. After touring the city for awhile, my son and I had to get from Manhattan to JFK airport, where our flight to London was leaving. Since JFK airport is quite a bit away from the main areas of New York City, we did a bit of research to help find the best way from Manhattan to JFK Airport. So I thought I would share with you some of my information to help you figure out the best way to get from New York City to JFK Airport.
Manhattan to JFK airport by Uber or Lyft
Uber has an estimated price of $60-$75 to get from Manhattan to JFK, though obviously that depends on your destination in New York City and probably time of day (how long it takes)
Lyft is similarly priced from Manhattan to John F Kennedy airport though both Uber and Lyft often are running promotions especially in New York City so be sure to check with them before you go
Getting from Manhattan to JFK airport by taxi
You can surely take a taxi from Manhattan to JFK airport but it will be fairly expensive. The NYC Taxi and Limousine commission has set up the trip to / from JFK airport from anywhere in Manhattan as a flat fare. A taxi from Manhattan to JFK airport costs $52.80 plus a $4.50 rush hour surcharge from 4pm to 8pm on weekdays, in addition to tips and tolls.
If you do want to take a taxi from Manhattan to JFK Airport in Queens, you’re likely to save money by using a service like Taxi2Airport.com – plus you can save $5 off using this link with coupon code T2A5OFF
Another option that many people like is using a shared express bus – there are a variety of express buses that go from Manhattan to JFK Airport, in the $15 to $20 (one-way) range. These are large buses designed for airport runs, so most of them should have plenty of storage underneath the seats for luggage. GO Airlink Shuttle is one such bus – it costs about $21 one-way. It runs every half hour on the half hour and they will pick you up at a variety of hotels and NYC transportation hubs (Grand Central, Penn Station, etc). Try promo code SHUTTLE to save 5%
And obviously you will be in a car, so subject to New York City traffic, especially if you’re traveling in rush hour (which seems like every hour!)
How to get from Manhattan to JFK by LIRR (train)
You can get from Manhattan to Newark airport (or LaGuardia) by bus, but it’s not really convenient to get from most of Manhattan to JFK airport in Queens by bus.
The Long Island Railroad (LIRR) has a large route map, but if you’re going from Times Square to JFK airport (or anywhere in Manhattan), you’ll probably want to take the LIRR to JFK from Penn Station, between 7th and 8th Avenues and 31st and 33rd streets in Manhattan. (there are also stations in northern Queens or Brooklyn as well). You’ll want to take the LIRR to the Jamaica station to go to JFK.
The LIRR costs $10.25 one way at peak times (westbound from 6AM to 10AM and eastbound from 4PM to 8PM), and $7.50 in off-peak times. There is also a Family Fare of $1 each way (on Off-Peak and PM Peak trains) for up to four children (age 5-11) per traveling adult (18 and over); Child Fare (for AM Peak trains), with a discount of 50% off full fare. So if you’re traveling with a family, then the LIRR may be the cheapest way to get from Manhattan to JFK airport
Another advantage of taking the train from Manhattan to Kennedy airport is that you’re not on the road (duh), so you don’t have to deal with any of the famous New York City traffic.
Once you get off at Jamaica station, you will take the AirTrain JFK (see below)
The cheapest and best way to get from Manhattan to JFK airport
While taxi, Uber, bus and even other ride share services or limos are all options to get from Manhattan to JFK airport, in my opinion, just like getting from JFK Airport to Manhattan, the absolute best way to get from Manhattan to JFK airport is by train. You can either take the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) from Manhattan to JFK Airport (see above), or you can take the subway
There are 2 different ways to go on the subway from Manhattan to JFK airport.
If you are in lower OR upper Manhattan it’s probably easiest to take the A train (blue in the picture above) to the Howard Beach / JFK Airport stop. If you’re in midtown Manhattan, it’s probably slightly faster to take the E train to the Sutphin Boulevard / Archer Avenue / JFK Airport stop. In either case the subway from Manhattan to JFK Airport will take between 45-60 minutes.
Once you get off the subway (either A or E lines) you will take the AirTrain JFK (see below)
Step by step instructions for riding the Air Train from Manhattan to JFK
After we had our fun layover in New York (SEE: 5 awesome things I did in New York City), my son and I took the subway. We were up near Rockefeller Center (in a blizzard)
That put us most convenient to the E train – we walked down to the Lexington Avenue / 53rd Street station and then boarded an outbound E train. The ride to the Sutphin Boulevard / Archer Avenue / JFK Airport stop station took about 35 minutes.
If you’re arriving at the Jamaica station (either on the E train or from the LIRR), just follow the signs for the JFK Air Train. The subway comes in underground, so you’ll need to exit the subway fare control area and go upstairs via escalator or elevator. The LIRR tracks are elevated at Jamaica and the AirTrain is accessible via a bridge over the tracks. Again, just follow the signs – it’s very easy to get from Jamaica station to the AirTrain
If you’re arriving at the Howard Beach station (on the A train), the tracks run at ground level, and the AirTrain to JFK is elevated, so you will need to go upstairs (again, just follow the signs), pay the fare (see below) and then you’ll be able to take the Air Train to JFK from Manhattan.
The JFK Air Train is free to ride between the terminals but there is a $5 charge per person if you are coming from Manhattan at either the Sutphin / Archer / JFK stop on the E line or the Howard Beach stop on the A line. Children under 5 ride free. Note that you CAN use your pay as you go Metrocard (make sure to have enough money on it to cover the $5 fee) but that unlimited Metrocards (like the 1-day or 3-day passes that you can buy) do NOT work for the $5 Air Train fee. Trains run to JFK every 7 minutes during peak times or 10 minutes at other times.
I hope this guide has helped you travel from New York City to JFK airport. if you need to make it a roundtrip, make sure to check out my guide to the best and cheapest way from JFK airport to Manhattan
What are your tips for the cheapest and best way from Manhattan to JFK Airport?