Navigating the bustling city of New York can seem like a daunting task, especially if you are a first-time visitor or even a seasoned traveler unacquainted with the city’s complex network of public transportation. This is often the case when you land at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), one of the busiest airports worldwide, and need to reach key transit hubs in the heart of Manhattan such as Penn Station or Grand Central Terminal.

I’ve lived in New York for 7 years, and today I’ll deconstruct this seemingly complex journey into simple, easy-to-follow steps. After a long flight, the last thing you want is to be caught up in the hustle and bustle of New York’s streets without a clue. Whether you prefer the economical subway, the convenient taxi, or the efficient airport shuttles, I’ll provide you with a detailed guide on the most efficient and cost-effective methods to make your journey as smooth as possible.

So whether you are on a business trip, vacation, or simply visiting, take a deep breath and prepare to navigate the city that never sleeps with confidence and ease. Stay tuned, as we decode the fastest, safest, and most economical ways to make your journey from JFK to Penn Station or Grand Central a breeze.

There are multiple options for getting from JFK Airport to Grand Central Terminal, each with its own balance of cost, convenience, and travel time. Here’s a quick rundown of your primary choices:

Get from JFK Airport to Penn Station or Grand Central IMG_9112

AirTrain JFK and LIRR

The LIRR has recently opened up for service to/from the Jamaica station and serves NYC’s two major train stations: Penn Station and Grand Central. Take the AirTrain from the airport to Jamaica Station, then transfer to the train you want to take. The trains typically alternate every 10-20 minutes between going to Grand Central or going to Penn Station. Buy tickets using the MTA TrainTime app.

AirTrain JFK and Subway

This is one of the most economical options, however it’s the most uncomfortable. The AirTrain connects JFK Airport to the New York City Subway system. Take the AirTrain from the airport to Jamaica Station, then transfer to the E subway line towards Manhattan. At 42 St – Port Authority Bus Terminal, transfer to the 7 subway line to Grand Central. The total cost will be $7.75 ($5 for the AirTrain and $2.75 for the subway).

Public Bus

The Q70-SBS bus connects the airport to the subway system, but this option usually requires multiple transfers and a longer travel time. This is generally the least preferred option due to the time it takes.


Taxis are available 24/7 at JFK. A trip to Grand Central will be metered, but generally costs around $60 to $70, not including tips or tolls. The trip typically takes around 60 minutes, but can be much longer during peak traffic times.

Rideshares (Uber/Lyft)

These services are available at JFK and offer a convenient option for getting to Grand Central. The cost will vary based on demand but generally ranges between $50 and $75.

Private Car Service

If you prefer a more comfortable and stress-free ride, consider booking a private car service. While significantly more expensive than other options, they offer a direct, private trip to your destination.

Remember that travel times for all methods can be affected by New York City’s notorious traffic, especially during rush hour. Be sure to plan accordingly and consider your personal comfort, budget, and schedule when choosing your mode of transportation.

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