Flying into JFK Airport in Queens? Getting to and from New York’s primary international airport is challenging. If you’re arriving, here’s how to get from JFK to Manhattan without breaking a sweat.
Trains, Buses, Taxis and Shuttles: Exploring the Options
Finally, your family trip to New York City has arrived. You’ve been planning this for a while. You’ve made a list of the best things to do in NYC with kids, booked a centrally located hotel and bought the plane tickets. New York’s three area airports, John F. Kennedy (JFK), LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and Newark International (EWR) all have varied transportation options. But you’re arriving at JFK, so we’ll focus on how to navigate the 16 miles from JFK in Queens to Midtown Manhattan. Good news: there are plenty of options and none of them involve driving in New York City!
Things to Consider
From trains to taxis to shuttle buses, your choices are vast and varied. But what’s right for your family? Here’s a few things to think about before deciding which transportation choice is right for your family:
Join our NEW Facebook Community: Making Travel Easier. We promise to always tell you what we would tell our best friend -- what works for kids, what doesn’t and what you need to know before you go to have the Best. Family. Vacation. Ever. Our group of travel experts are ready to answer your travel questions!
- What’s your budget? While a car service like Uber, Lyft, or a taxi offers convenience, it comes with a hefty price tag.
- What kind of packer are you? If you’re good to go with a carry-on for everyone, you’ll be able to navigate any of the transportation choices with ease. But, if you typically pack everything but the kitchen sink, navigating subway steps could be a challenge.
- What time of day are you arriving? Rush hour in New York City lasts for hours. Hope you’re comfy in that Uber you’ve ordered, because you’re going to be there for a while. Travel time for the seemingly short 16 miles between JFK and Midtown Manhattan can be as long as 90 minutes in rush hour traffic.
- Are you open to new adventures? Navigating NYC’s mass transit system isn’t difficult, but if you’ve never been to a major city, it can be intimidating. But if you’re up for an adventure, taking the subway or the Long Island Railroad offers a budget-friendly option. You’ll also avoid those insane rush hour traffic jams.
Fortunately, we’ve got the scoop on how to get from JFK to Manhattan and back again. Let’s take a look.
Travel Like a New Yorker…If You Dare!
One of the most budget-friendly options for traveling between JFK and Manhattan provides a true New York City adventure. Easily accessible from all JFK terminals, the AirTrain cost $7.75 per person and is free for children under 5. The subway ride is an additional $2.75 for a total price of $10.50.
The AirTrain serves all airport terminals, airport hotels and rental car companies. It will also take you to the Jamaica Station or Howard Beach Station for connection to the subway lines leading into Manhattan. Choose your station and subway train based on where you’re going in Manhattan:
- For Midtown Manhattan including Times Square, take the Air Train to Jamaica Station and transfer to the Manhattan-bound E train at the Sutphin Blvd subway station/
- For Lower Manhattan below West 14th Street or Brooklyn, take the Air Train to Howard Beach Station and transfer to the Manhattan-bound A train. Note: If you plan to take the “A” train from NYC when you return to JFK, make sure the A train you board says Far Rockaway and not Lefferts Blvd.
Before exiting the AirTrain system, purchase a MetroCard at the machines near the turnstiles. (Credit cards and cash are accepted.) The total charge for the AirTrain plus the subway ticket is $10.50, but if you’re planning to use public transportation to get around NYC, factor that into the amount you add to your MetroCard.
TravelingMom Tip: One MetroCard can be shared by up to four people.
All AirTrain trains and stations are ADA-compliant and are equipped with elevators and escalators which helps with managing your luggage. Many of the subway stations also have escalators and elevators, but not all. It’s a good idea to check the MTA NYC Transit website for specific information about the subway stop closest to your hotel. Typically, the travel time between JFK and Midtown Manhattan using this combination takes 45 minutes.
Take the Commuter Train on the Long Island Railroad
For another budget-friendly and fast transit option, take the AirTrain to Jamaica Station to connect with the Long Island Railroad commuter train. Jamaica Station is a hub for the LIRR, which means trains run every few minutes. To ride the LIRR, exit the AirTrain (paying the $7.75 fare with your MetroCard) and follow the signs to the LIRR. There you’ll find ticket machines and monitors letting you know when trains are departing. Find a train going to Penn Station and choose your fare.
Fares on the LIRR are calculated on peak and non-peak times. Kids under 5 are always free and there are family discounts for kids ages 5 to 11. The LIRR costs $10.25 one way at peak times (westbound from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and eastbound from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.), and $7.50 in off-peak times. A Family Fare of $1 each way for up to four children (ages 5-11) per traveling adult (18 and over) is available for Off-Peak and PM Peak trains. The dreadful morning rush hour offers a Child Fare (for AM Peak trains), with a discount of 50% off full fare. If you’re traveling on Saturday or Sunday, check for the City Fare, which is only $4.50 to and from Penn Station.
Your chances of getting a seat on the LIRR are often better than on the subways. And, the train takes you directly to Penn Station on West 34th Street, which is where NJ Transit trains bring passengers from Newark Airport. Taking only 30 to 35 minutes, this is the quickest way to travel between JFK and Manhattan. If your hotel isn’t within walking distance, you can grab a cab at the taxi stand outside the station or take the subway.
Rather Take the Bus? Go Express
If tackling the trains stresses you out, consider taking the airport express bus. For $19.00 each way (or a round trip rate of $35) the NYC Express bus picks up passengers at JFK terminals 1, 4, 7 and 8. For other terminals, use the AirTrain to get to a pickup point. (Note: the AirTrain is free to travel between terminals.) Authorized by the NY & NJ Port Authority, the bus drops passengers off at Grand Central, Times Square and the Port Authority bus terminal. Travel time depends on whether you’re arriving during weekday peak hours, off-peak hours or the weekend.
Need Door to Door Transportation? There’s More than One Choice
There’s no question a taxi, Uber, Lyft or private car service offers an easy ride between JFK and Manhattan, but that convenience comes with a hefty price tag. Still, depending on the size of your group, the price tag might not be as bad as it seems.
The NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission has set flat fees between JFK and Manhattan. The taxi fare is $52.00, not including tolls or tip. During peak hours (4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays) there’s a $4.50 surcharge. There’s also a NY State tax of 50 cents added to trips within New York. Cabs hold up to 4 passengers (5 in a minivan) and their luggage.
Uber and Lyft fares range from $50 to $65 or higher depending on the day and time of travel. And private car service increases the tab even more. However, it does come with the perk of having a reservation in advance and a driver who monitors your flight time to provide punctual pick up service.
If you’re looking for the convenience of door-to-door service but need a more budget-friendly choice, an airport shared shuttle service could be the answer. One of the most trusted, Go Airlink is an official partner with the NY and NJ Port Authorities. Similar to a private car hire, you can book a seat on the shuttle ahead of time and your driver will track your flight and wait in case of any delays. Transportation is available 24/7 and round-trip tickets are also available. If your group is large, consider booking the entire van. Visit the website for pricing details.
Whether you choose to dive into the world of the New Yorkers with a subway ride or take it easy in a taxi, bus or shuttle, TravelingMom hopes you’ll enjoy every minute you spend in New York City!