Arriving at JFK Kennedy Airport – Five Tips

Welcome to New York City’s JFK Kennedy Airport.

1. Make sure you’ve completed your ESTA online (in plenty of time before your trip).

You’ll need to do this if you’re entering the US on the Visa Waiver Program.

2. Know the Street Address of Your Hotel or Hostel.

If you’re entering the US, you’ll need to provide the street address of where you’re staying on the entrance form.

3. Getting into the City Using the Subway.

I often use the subway to get from the airport to my accommodation. You’ll first need to ride the Airport Airtrain, which connects the terminals to the nearest subway stations.

To do this you’ll walk outside the airport, cross the street and follow the signs. Get on the train (It’s an elevated train). You pay when you exit so you don’t need a ticket to get on it. Just get on.

Once you get to the Airtrain exit, you pay your $5 Airtrain fare at a machine, plus your subway fare. There are attendants to help you figure out the machine if you need it. If you are getting a weekly ($29) or monthly ($103) subway pass, do this now and start using it for your first ride. Paying involves dipping your credit card in and out of the machine. (You don’t leave your card in the machine during the transaction, just dip it in when instructed by the machine and pull it out).

Note that your subway choices are the A, E, J and Z lines. The A train station is at one end of the Air Train line and the station for the E, J, and Z lines is at the other end of the Air Train line.

The NYC subway runs 24 hours a day. Use Google maps to find the subway route you need to take to get to your accommodation (click the public transportation icon next to the car, walking, and biking icons). Google maps will also tell you the trip time. Expect this to be an underestimate. Riding the subway from the airport is fairly relaxing. Be aware if you have luggage that many subway stations require stair climbing. NYers are reasonably tolerant of people taking luggage on the subway. I think they assume that if you could afford a cab, you would take one.

4. Getting a Cab.

A cab ride from the airport to a destination in Manhattan from the airport is a fixed rate + tip. There is a taxi line just outside the airport. Stand in this line if you’d like to take a cab. Getting a cab back to the airport is not a fixed rate. If you’re going to Brooklyn or Queens, you can also take a yellow cab (will be on the meter). If you need to get back to the airport from Brooklyn or Queens you will need to use Uber or similar since yellow cabs don’t really pick up in Brooklyn or Queens. To use Uber you have to download their ap and set up an account. When we used Uber recently we arranged for him to collect us at a specific pickup spot outside. Make yourself aware of Uber pricing, as the price is higher at high demand times of the day.

5. Getting a Shuttle

A third option is to get a shuttle. These only go to Manhattan (not Brooklyn or Queens that I’m aware of), but will drop you at your accommodation. They’re around $23 from memory. No need to book, just find the desk. They also pick up in Manhattan for the return airport journey. Supershuttle is one company to look for.

Guest Interviews

If there is a airport you know like the back of your hand, would you like to do a guest interview and provide similar info to what is provided above? If yes, email us. kathryn(at)

We’re focusing on international gateways airports that are popular with leisure travelers/backpackers. We’d love to have you contribute!

Click here to read Arriving at Auckland Airport – Seven Tips


1 Comment

  1. // Reply

    Oh…I didn’t know I needed to know all that! Helpful for someone new there!

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