Traveling into NYC on the Airtrain and Subway
Traveling between JFK and NYC by taxi is expensive and frustrating. Don’t be afraid to try public transport – the Airtrain and subway are far cheaper and can be quicker.
There’s something romantic about your first time in a New York taxi. That very precise shade of yellow is itself the embodiment of Americana.
There’s nothing necessarily romantic about the cost of the journey, though. From JFK International Airport to Manhattan is a fixed fee of $45 and you’ll be expected to tip the driver. Take the taxi both ways for your airport transfers, and you’ll pay out $100 you may not have budgeted for.
Price isn’t the only downside. There’s the small matter of New York traffic. The Long Island and Van Wyck Expressways are often mistaken for car parks, and a straightforward half-hour transfer can soon take three times as long.
The more cost-effective, and in many cases speedier option is the subway.
Clean, Sprightly & Simple
When you exit the baggage collection hall turn right and take the escalators up a level to the Airtrain deck. These trains are clean, sprightly, and simple to use. The track is looped, servicing all eight terminals at JFK and links the airport with New York’s rail, bus, and subway systems. There are no ticket machines here, so don’t worry about paying for a ticket.
The Airtrain has two destinations, both with access to subway stations. Take the train to Jamaica station if you’re heading into midtown Manhattan, or travel to Howard Beach if you’re stopping in Brooklyn or downtown Manhattan. The journey from the airport takes fifteen minutes.
Plan Ahead to Save $$$
When you arrive at the station, you’ll need to buy an Airtrain ticket to leave through the gates. At this point, consider buying a Metrocard too. This is the subway travel pass and they are heavily discounted for longer durations. For example, a single fare on the subway is currently $2 and you may make several journeys a day. A seven-day unlimited pass is just $24 and buying one now means your journey into Manhattan is also paid for.
From the Airtrain, it’s a short walk to the subway station. Trains are frequent and the journey is usually swift; in the case of the E train from Jamaica station, you’ll arrive in midtown Manhattan in about 30 minutes.
Assuming your Metrocard is valid for your return journey to the airport, then all you pay is another $5 for the Airtrain (to be paid before you board this time), meaning a total cost of $10 for your airport transfers.
Of course, you lose the convenience of being dropped off at the door of your hotel or hostel, but by alighting at the correct subway station you’ll never be more than a short walk or cab fare away and you’ll still save a significant amount of money.
It’s not an option that will suit everyone, certainly not larger groups or those with a suitcase capacious enough to swallow a cow, but the net result could a saving of $90. Cold hard cash may be no substitute for romance, but then you can’t buy an 18” pepperoni with hugs and kisses.