Travel options from JFK Airport to Manhattan
JFK Airport is the primary airport serving New York, welcoming travelers from all around the globe. Located within the borough of Queens, JFK is just 15 miles from Manhattan and is the second closest airport to the city, only to LaGuardia Airport, which is 8 miles away. In comparison, Newark Airport is 17 miles away.
When transferring options from JFK to Manhattan, you’re spoiled for choice. From traditional taxi and car services to public transportation, here’s a comprehensive overview of all your options.
Taxi and car services are convenient and offer door-to-door service. Licensed by the city, they offer an array of services to meet travelers’ needs–from sedans and SUVs to luxury vehicles and accessible vans. Just keep in mind that tolls and surge pricing rates may apply.
Public transportation is always available for those looking for a more economical option. Two major NYC subway lines service JFK, and several bus routes stop at satellite terminals around the airport. Purchase a MetroCard at the Transportation Hub and follow the signage to your line. Also, note that many hotels provide shuttle service to their guests.
No matter how you get there, rest assured that JFK offers plenty of transfer options to make your transition from the airport to Manhattan as smooth as possible.
Before deciding which transport method to take, consider the following travel considerations. You can filter your travel options based on certain circumstances:
- If you have several bulky luggage with you, it is a wise choice to cross out the subway option, which may involve multiple train transfers, climbing up the stairs, and crowding during peak hours.
- If you travel with several companions, taking multiple taxicabs can be costly. Worse, it could cost you even more time when you navigate during rush hour.
- Speaking of taxis, it is best to deal with cabs stationed just outside the baggage claim area as they’re more likely to get you a fair deal than the others. Also, when paying tips, some credit card machines installed in cabs charge a default 20% tip, which you can change manually down to 10% to 15%.
We listed this one ahead of taxis or car hire because this method allows you to save costs by choosing to ride with strangers, which is a relatively safe thing to do in NYC. Services by Lyft, Uber, Via, and others may also grant discounts and offer limited-time promotions.
- Price: $30 to $60 + tips
- 50 minutes
Taking a taxicab at JFK costs a flat fee of $52 plus toll surcharges, tip to the driver and a possible rush-hour surcharge of $4.50 from 4 pm to 8 pm. Although a fixed-fee policy is in place, telling the driver about the $52 fare just before you take the ride won’t hurt.
Once confirmed, you can expect the journey from JFK to Manhattan within 50 to 70 minutes. Be aware that the passenger is responsible for paying tolls. As a standard practice, please tip your driver for good service and a safe journey.
- Price: $52 + toll charges + rush-hour fee + tip
- 50 – 70 minutes
3. NYC Express bus
The NYC Express bus picks up only from Terminals 1, 2, 4, and 8 to Grand Central Terminal and Times Square (42nd st between 5th & 6th, same block as Bryant Park). This mode of transport is cheaper than the first two options although it takes longer (90 minutes). Service is available between 11 am and 7 pm.
- JFK terminal 1 – Agents/podium at the ground transportation welcome center
- JFK terminal 2 – (look for NYC Express sign at curbside) – No agents at this terminal
- JFK terminal 4 – Agents/podium at the ground transportation welcome center
- JFK terminal 8 – Agents/podium at the ground transportation welcome center
Each trip departs from JFK every 30 minutes. If you come from terminals other than 1, 2, 4, and 8, you need to take the free AirTrain monorail service.
It is advisable to book your seats online. With online reservations, you can take any bus on the day of travel, and the reservation is good for 90 days from the date of purchase.
- Price: $19
- 90 minutes
4. AirTrain + Long Island Rail Road (LIRR)
Intended mainly for workers coming into Manhattan from the city’s outskirts, the Long Island Rail Road is a commuter train that runs frequently and is conveniently located from JFK. During weekday rush hours, trains go to New York’s Penn Station every 5 – 10 minutes. The closest LIRR station to JFK is Jamaica Station. Getting to Manhattan from Howard Beach, the other LIRR Station, is also possible, but that is a long journey.
From the luggage claim area, follow the signs to the AirTrain shuttle and check the label ‘Jamaica Train.’ You don’t have to pay for the fare once you enter the train; you’ll only do so when you get off. Take the ride until the last stop at Jamaica Station. Expect this ride to take up to 20 minutes.
Once you exit the AirTran at Jamaica Station, you’ll find MetroCard vending machines. You will need to buy a $5 AirTrain MetroCard. Please be aware that this vending machine won’t handle Unlimited Ride MetroCards for the NYC subway system; you can get such tickets at your destination station. Machines offer a $7.25 combined ticket, which also covers a single-journey subway ticket; it is generally not worth it.
Swipe the AirTran MetroCard to exit the AirTrain network through the turnstiles, and turn left onto the bridge over the LIRR trains.
From the display panels, you will determine the next train to Penn Station, which tracks where you can board, and whether the trip would be considered peak ($9.50) or off-peak ($7) for weekday travels. If your travel falls on a weekend, you can look for CityTicket discounted at $4.25.
- The LIRR journey takes about 25 minutes.
- Price: $5 AirTrain + $9.5 peak / $7 off-peak / $4.5 – weekend CityTicket
5. AirTrain + NYC subway
Traveling to and from JFK Airport need not be a costly endeavor. By using the Airtrain and subsequent subway lines, travelers can reduce their transportation fees significantly. For just $7.25 per person, passengers can use this economical solution for getting between the airport and their hotel.
However, it is important to note that travelers must lug their luggage up and down stairs at the Airtrain station and the subway station to complete their journey. The Airtrain costs $5.00 per person, and the MTA subway fare is an additional $2.75, making the total cost of the trip $7.75. Passengers wishing to board the Airtrain can do so within the airport, with destinations either at the Howard Beach Station or Sutphin Boulevard Station, where they can catch the A Train, ETrain, JTrain, or ZTrain.
If your travel to New York City involves plenty of subway rides and only carrying light bags on your flight, you might want to buy the Unlimited Ride MetroCard right upon your arrival at JFK. But since no direct subway line links to the airport, you still need to take the AirTrain transfer from JFK to the Jamaica Station of the Long Island Rail Road network. From there, you can take the New York subway trains at E, J, and Z subway lines after buying the MetroCard or a single journey subway ticket.
Unlimited MetroCard costs 7-day at $32, reduced at $16 / 30-day for $121, reduced at $60.50.
f you don’t expect to take a frequent subway ride, get a single journey NYC subway ticket at $2.75.
- Price: $5 AirTrain + MetroCard / $2.75; 60-90 minutes to midtown Manhattan
Grand Central Madison Station
Travelers to New York City now have a quicker, more convenient way to get from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) thanks to the new Grand Central Madison Station, which opened IN 2023 by the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR). The new station connects JFK Airport to Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station on Manhattan’s East Side: trains run between 6:15 a.m. and 8 p.m. on weekdays and between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. on weekends with the frequency of every 30 minutes except during peak periods when they will run once per hour.
The opening of the Grand Central Madison Station marks the first expansion of the LIRR in 112 years, offering much-needed relief to travelers who previously had to rely on the lengthy and often unreliable AirTrain connection from Jamaica, Queens, to Manhattan. The station is designed to welcome travelers with its brightly-lit halls and glass mosaics. It includes an 875-square-foot abstract and figurative mosaic by Yayoi Kusama entitled “A Message of Love, Directly from My Heart unto the Universe.” The station also provides streamlined access to the 4, 5, 6, 7, and S subway lines and the Metro-North Railroad, servicing Westchester and other areas north of the city.
Notes and Travel Tips:
- Hold on to your MetroCard since it can be refillable; it costs $1 to get a new card.
- Strangers may approach and offer to sell used MetroCards. Ignore them and only buy at designated vending machines.
There are several ways to get out of John F. Kennedy International Airport towards Manhattan. Each has pros and cons regarding cost, travel duration, comfort, and timing.