If you’re searching for the best way to get to New York City from the airport (or vise versa) then you’ve come to the right place.
There’s nothing worse than getting ripped off on taxi/uber fare when public transportation is an option. The biggest challenge with public transportation is having the time, but if you’re adequately prepared then you can save a lot of $$ by opting for that option.
Read on to learn about the various ways you can get to New York City from the airport.
Getting to New York City from the Airport
Getting to NYC from the airport (3 options)
There are three airports that service New York City and sadly, none are conveniently located.
- John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in Queens
- LaGuardia Airport (LGA) in Queens
- Newark International Airport (EWR) in New Jersey
But have no fear, there are three fairly quick options to get to New York City from the airport: taxi, Uber/Lyft and public transportation. Let’s cover them in detail below.
Taking a taxi to NYC from the airport
What better way to make an entrance to the Big Apple than arriving via yellow taxi? The price for taxis varies between airports and we’ll cover average costs from each airport. However, it’s worth noting that prices range throughout the day, based on demand and traffic.
Let’s keep things real, arriving via taxi is the easiest way to get to NYC from the airport — but it’s also the most expensive. Prior to moving to New York City, I only took taxis during work trips or if I was traveling in a group of four and could split the cost of the fare.
However, when I’m traveling by myself (or for pleasure) I typically skip taking a taxi from the airport, especially during rush hour. New York City’s traffic is notorious and you can easily spend 2 hours sitting in cab if you try getting to New York City from the airport weekdays between 6am to 10am and 4pm and 8pm.
When to take a taxi from the airport: Traveling with a lot of luggage, traveling in a group of 3+ people, flying in outside of rush hour traffic. Also, tipping the taxi driver is customary in the US, expect to tip 10-20%.
Uber & Lyft
Uber and Lyft are great options and sometimes cheaper than taxis, depending on time of day. I suggest checking the rates for Uber/Lyft while waiting on your luggage before deciding which mode of transportation to take from the airport to New York City.
Public transportation tends to be my preferred method to get to New York City from the airport because it’s the cheapest way to do it. NYC has a great public transportation system (admittedly it’s hard to find anyone that praises their city’s public transportation, but there’s no denying NYC has the best in the country).
If you’re flying into JFK you’ll notice signs for an AirTrain. This will be your best friend if you’re choosing the route of public transportation. As the name implies, this is a train that runs outside in the open, above ground. Since there are no direct subway lines that go into the city, the AirTrain is used as a connecting ride. AirTrain connects to NYC’s public transportation network at Jamaica and Howard Beach Stations, from there you can can transfer to any subway you need and head towards the city.
Getting to Manhattan from JFK (John F. Kennedy International Airport)
John F. Kennedy International Airport is located in Queens, about 14 miles from the heart of Manhattan. On average, getting to Manhattan from JFK will take about 1 – 1.5 hours, depending on the time of day.
Getting to Manhattan from JFK airport via taxi
The great thing about taking a taxi from JFK to Manhattan is that there’s a flat rate system in place. In fact, JFK is the only airport that has flat taxi rates to get to Manhattan from the airport. Taxis at JFK charge a flat fare of $52 to get from the airport to Manhattan.
On top of the $52 flat rate, there’s a $4.50 surcharge imposed during peak hours (4pm – 8pm weekdays), bringing the total fare to $56.50 + tolls & tip. All told, I typically pay $75-80 when taking a taxi to Manhattan from JFK. In terms of time, taxis from JFK take between 1-1.5 hours, depending on traffic.
Getting to NYC from JFK using Uber or Lyft
Much like taxis, expect an Uber or Lyft from the airport to Manhattan to take 1-1.5 hours, depending on traffic. But unlike taxis, there’s no flat rate and prices vary drastically depending on the time of day. I’ve paid as much as $160 for an Uber (before realizing taxis offer a flat rate from JFK, learn from my mistake) to as little as $35.
My rule of thumb is to check Uber/Lyft prices while I’m waiting on my luggage. If the prices are under $80, I’ll probably order the service, but if the cost is $80+ I’ll take a taxi to the city.
Getting to JFK from Manhattan using the subway
Taking the subway to JFK from Manhattan is an easy and painless experience but it’s important to understand that it’s a two-step process.
- Step 1: Take the subway from Manhattan to Jamaica Station (where the AirTrain is located)
- Step 2: Take the AirTrain directly to your terminal at JFK
The trip will take about 1.5 hours and will only cost $10.75 per person ($2.75 subway to Jamaica Station + $8.00 for AirTrain).
I highly recommend using Google Maps because the app is easy to use and will get you to the right subway station so that you can get connected to the AirTrain.
As mentioned earlier, the subway system in NYC doesn’t connect to JFK airport directly, that’s where the AirTrain comes in. Simply sway from subway to AirTrain at Jamaica Station and you’ll be on your way.
Tip: You will not pay your fare for the AirTrain at the airport terminals, you will pay when you get off at Jamaica Station. This is confusing because normally you pay before boarding, but that’s not the case here.
Getting to NYC from JFK: From JFK airport, take the AirTrain to Jamaica Station, and then connect with subway trains. This is my preferred method because it is the cheapest.
Getting to NYC from LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
Like JFK, LaGauardia Airport is also located in Queens, but is much closer, only 5 miles from Manhattan which (sometimes) makes it easier to get to.
Taxis from LaGuardia to Manhattan don’t have a flat fee (like JFK) and will range between $35-$50 depending on the time of day. The ride can be as quick as 30 minute or upward of an hour, depending on traffic.
Uber/Lyft will run $35 – $60, depending on time of day and destination. Just like taxis, the ride can be as quick as 30 minute or upward of an hour, depending on traffic. In my opinion, the cost of getting to Manhattan from LaGaurdia is the about the same, regardless of if you use a taxi or Uber/Lyft.
Public Transportation (1.5 hours): Even though LaGuardia is technically the closest airport to Manhattan, there is no direct train between Manhattan and LaGuardia, as such you will need to use the bus and AirTrain. I must admit, having to take the bus adds a level of stress when getting from NYC to the airport, which is why I don’t prefer taking public transportation to LaGuardia.
Getting to New York City from LGA airport: Upon leaving the terminal, take the Q70 bus to the subway station at Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Ave. At the Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Ave Subway Station, take the E, M, F, R and 7 trains to reach your destination in Manhattan.
Getting to Manhattan from Newark International Airport (EWR)
Unlike the other two New York City airports, Newark International Airport is located in New Jersey (the state next to New York). The airport is about 11 miles from the heart of Manhattan.
Taxis from Newark International Airport to Manhattan range $50-70 + tolls and tip. A rush hour surcharge of $5 is imposed weekdays between 6am to 9am and 4pm to 7pm, and weekends between 12pm to 8pm. The ride takes about 30 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic.
Uber/Lyft will run $50- $60, depending on time of day and destination. The ride takes about an hour, depending on traffic.
Public Transportation: The cheapest way to get to New York City from the airport is to take the AirTrain + New Jersey Transit. Your trip will begin by taking the AirTrain to AirTrain Station, where you will get off to hop on the New Jersey Transit train. Take the New Jersey Transit train directly to New York Penn Station and then connect with the right subway line from there.
Take note: If you are catching a red eye, the NJ Transit train does not run between 2am and 5am, nightly.
Best NYC airport to fly into
Honestly, it doesn’t matter which NYC airport you fly into because all three are located about 1-1.5 hours from Manhattan. I personally prefer JFK airport because it seems to be the most efficient (shorter lines, etc.). But my rule of thumb is sticking to the cheapest flight.
Map of New York City airports
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Charles McAlexander says
For an old geezer like me, the Subway/Air train method is always bes. I have a Senior monthly discount metroCard which gets me on any regular subway or bus for $1.35. Add the Air Train and I’m still under $10. Compare that to the $75 for a cab including tip and there is no choice. It’s usually a faster trip because of the traffic I don’t have to sit in, but I do have to shlep my own luggage, so I travel light.
Richard Mortimer says
There is now an airport taxi penalty to pay entering cab
$8 from LaGuardia plus tunnel toll close to $20