If you are looking for a simple cost effective way to get from Manhattan to JFK airport, I’d suggest taking the subway or Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) to the JFK Airtrain. Since a taxi will generally cost you $55 ($45 fare, $5 tolls, $5 tip) and a variable amount of time, depending upon traffic, the train or subway can be much cheaper and get you there in almost the same time.
LIRR and JFK Airtrain
The recommended mode of transportation depends upon your location in Manhattan and the time and cost you are comfortable with. The more expensive (although still very cheap) option is to take the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) from Penn Station (34th street) to the Jamaica station which connects to the JFK Airtrain.
From Penn Station to Jamaica is only 21 minutes and the fare is:
Off Peak $5.75
Once at Jamaica transfer to the JFK Airtrain. The cost for the Airtrain is an additional $5. Total cost $10.75 or $13 per person.
New York Subway to JFK Airtrain
Alternatively you can take the E or A subway to an Airtrain station and connect from there. If you are in midtown you can take the E train to Sutphin Blvd then connect to the JFK Airtrain. From downtown you can take the A train to Howard Beach and connect there. Make sure you take an A train marked “Far Rockaway” and not the “Lefferts Blvd” train. Both trains take about 50 minutes to get to an Airtrain station, then another 5 to 10 minutes on the Airtrain to the airport.
Since the subway is only $2.25, with the Airtrain fare of $5, this makes for a very inexpensive $7.75 per person.
A helpful note about the Airtrain
The JFK Airtrains that make stops at the subway and LIRR run sequentially around the terminals, from terminal 1 to 2 to 3. If you are departing on an American Airlines flight from Terminal 8 you can save yourself 10 minutes by alighting at Terminal 1, crossing the platform, and getting on the inner loop terminal train that runs in the opposite direction from terminal 1 to terminal 8, then 7, then 6 and so on.
Returning to Manhattan
If you are arriving in JFK and headed to Manhattan, the above information still applies. The only thing to watch for is the destination of the Airtrain you board. Make sure you board a “Station A – Howard Beach” train for the A subway or the “Station D – Jamaica” train for the E subway and LIRR.
Do you have any public transportation tips for getting to and from JFK? If so please leave them in the comments below.