Getting to JFK From Manhattan
The fastest route to JFK from Manhattan that is consistent is to take the Long Island Railroad from Penn Station (between 7th & 8th Avenues, and between West 31st & West 33rd Streets). The trains, though sometimes delayed themselves, are rarely as inconsistent as riding in a cab or shuttle van usually can be. Currently the one-way off-peak fare is $6.25 and peak fare is $8.50.
According to the MTA, “Peak Fares are charged during business rush hours, on any weekday train scheduled to arrive in NYC terminals between 6 and 10 AM or depart NYC terminals between 4 and 8 PM.” Get off at the Jamaica Station in Queens. Then, hop on the JFK AirTrain for $5.00 which will zip you around to any terminal you need. Once the train departs, it is usually about 35 minutes to the terminal with this combination.
If you have time, trade the Long Island Railroad for the Subway. Chances are, you would have had to take a subway anyway to get to Penn Station. There are several options:
- From Midtown, take the E to Sutphin Blvd (2nd to last stop in Queens).
- From Downtown, or way Uptown, you can take the A train to the Howard Beach stop in Queens.
- Or from Downtown, you can take the J or Z trains to Sutphin Blvd.
If you take a subway, wherever you get off, you will take the AirTrain (still $5.00) to continue on to the terminals. Subways are cheap ($2.75) and very consistent, though also consistently slow. Just like most things in New York City, they run 24/7, but night and holiday service could have a train in the station every 20 minutes or so, so give yourself time. Subway times to JFK will almost always take slightly over an hour. A private shuttle bus can also take you to JFK. From Grand Central Station in Midtown (East), the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown (West), or Penn Station, a shuttle van usually charges around $15.00 – $18.00 each way.
In an official NYC yellow cab, currently trips between (to and from) Manhattan and JFK Airport have a flat fare of $52.00 plus any tolls, plus a $0.50 NY State tax surcharge. If you’re in a rush, tell your driver to skip the Queensboro/59th St. Bridge, opting instead for the Queens Midtown Tunnel, though it will set you back an extra $6.50 for the toll.
A car service is the most convenient, since you can call it to your hotel and have them waiting for you outside, but it is also the costliest option (can be considerably more than a yellow cab). Car services are private companies, and can make up their own prices, which you can negotiate over the phone when you book them. There are a gazillion car services, so just Google them.
There are official NYC MTA Buses, but they are probably going to be your slowest option. However, it may actually be more convenient if you are way uptown, such as in Washington Heights, Harlem, or Inwood. The cost of the bus is the same as a subway fare, and depending on which bus you take, you may be able to skip the AirTrain option, making the city bus the cheapest way to get to the airport. However, other buses will drop you off at an AirTrain station, for which you’d still have to pay that $5.00 fare. Check out the MTA Trip Planner for info.