5 Best Ways to Get to/from Manhattan and JFK Airport in NYC

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I just recently flew back to France for the summer and realized how well I had my airport routine down. I’d make my way to Grand Central Station and hop on the direct NYC Airporter bus from there. It was easy, cheap, and convenient.

Unfortunately, since the pandemic, the NYC Airporter has ceased operations. I was hoping they’d start back up again once people began traveling again, but alas, this convenient bus is totally out of business.

I really hope another bus company comes along and takes its place! If you were looking to save money, the NYC Airporter bus operated by Golden Touch Transportation was a good solution. A one-way trip to JFK was just $18, while a one-way ticket to LGA was just $16 from the Grand Central area. It was a great way to save money on airport transportation while avoiding schlepping your bags through the subway.

In any case, there are lots of different other ways to get between the airport (JFK) and Manhattan so I thought I’d share the modes of transportation that I know of so you can decide what’s right for you!

There are a few different ways you can get to Manhattan from the airport. I’ll go over the main 5 ways here:

Getting to JFK Airport from Manhattan

1. NYC Taxi

Back in the day, an NYC yellow cab taxi to the airport was the only option you really had. Luckily, fares are fixed between the city and JFK airport, and you pay $52+ tax, tolls, and tips between anywhere in Manhattan and JFK. This comes to about $70-80 total. There are no additional charges for the number of people in your party, or the number of suitcases you have. There is a $4.50 surcharge if you ride during peak hours (4-8pm on weekdays).

2. Uber

Uber is the most convenient and cost-friendly option for getting to the airport. An Uber Pool from Manhattan will cost you around $30-50 (depending on demand) while an UberX is around $60, again depending on demand.

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3. LIRR

The LIRR is now operating between Jamaica Station in Queens and both major train stations in Manhattan – Grand Central and Penn/Moynihan. Travelers can take the AirTrain from JFK Terminals to Jamaica Station and then transfer to the LIRR which will drop them off at either Grand Central Madison Station or Penn Station/Port Authority.

Trains to Grand Central operate from 6:15 AM to 8 PM on weekdays and between 7 AM to 11 PM on weekends. Trains run approximately every 30 minutes.

4. Subway

This brings me to the next, most economical way to get to the airport: the subway!

New York City is famous for its 24-hour subway system, which comes in handy for off-hour flights. I took the subway to JFK for most of my journeys to the airport during college, as it’s cheap and pretty convenient if you don’t have a ton of luggage. This option will cost a total of $10.75: $8 for the AirTrain, and $2.75 for your normal subway fare.

Subway From Midtown

The blue E train going uptown/to Queens will let you transfer to the AirTrain at the Sutphin Boulevard/Archer Avenue/JFK Airport stop. It takes about 45 minutes total to get from Midtown Manhattan to JFK Terminal 4 including a short walk from the subway station to the AirTrain stop. Many others were making the trip when I did around 2 PM.

Subway From Downtown

The blue A train going downtown brings you to/from Manhattan and JFK, with a quick transfer to the AirTrain.

Be sure you take the A Train with the final destination marked “Far Rockaway,” and NOT “Lefferts Boulevard” and get off at the Howard Beach station. From there, you can purchase a ticket to board the AirTrain. There are usually quite a few other people with suitcases doing the same thing, so you can just follow them!

This journey can take over an hour from Manhattan so it’s best to depart your residence at least 1.5 hours ahead of when you’d like to arrive at the airport.

5. Car Service

Lastly, if you’re with a group of people or don’t want to deal with unpredictable taxis, the last way I’d recommend your airport transfer is to hire a car service to assist you. Carmel Limo is a trusted company for this type of service and rates will be competitive, depending on your needs!


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