How to Get into Manhattan from Any New York City Airport

Today’s post comes to you by special request from someone who attempted to read the Jfk Airport’s ground transportation instructions and got confused.  Which makes sense since the MTA is a jerk.   Once I started typing this out, I realized just how difficult it will sound to someone who has never been here before.  I apologize on behalf of the MTA for this.  I also apologize on behalf of myself for taking well over a month to type this out.

New York has three major airports, none of which are in Manhattan.  One isn’t even in the state of New York.  JFK International Airport and LaGuardia Airports are both in Queens.  Newark Airport is in New Jersey.

How to Get From JFK Airport into Manhattan

1.  Taking a Cab:  Recommended when you are traveling with someone who can split costs and/or when you have luggage you cannot easily manage on your own.  Note: This is the only viable option for you if you have luggage you cannot manage carrying up steps on your own

Cabs from JFK to Manhattan are flat rate – meaning  you do not pay the meter.  The flat rate is a whopping $52.50.  If you have four people and are not used to public transportation, or if you have more luggage than you can handle carrying up many steps with out an escalator, this may be the choice for you.

Please do not forget to tip the cab driver on top of the fare. It is not okay to stiff them because you feel the fare is too high. It is not their fault  you chose to travel to a city where the cost of cab fare (and everything else for that matter) is so ridiculously high.

2. Using a Combination of the AirTrain and Long Island Railroad: Recommended ONLY if your hotel is located within walking distance of Penn Station AND you do not have luggage that you can not manage easily.

The MTA wants you to take this option because they make more money off of  you.  This option costs either $13 or $21, depending on several factors.  BUT WAIT!  THERE’S MORE!  Unless you are staying at a hotel right near Penn Station, which where the Long Island Railroad will leave you, you then have to get to your hotel from Penn Station.  That will cost you more money.

How this option works:  You take the AirTrain from your gate to Jamaica Station.  There are signs everywhere, you cannot miss them.  You do not pay until you exit, so just hop on.  Make sure you get on the one going to Jamaica.  This is really easy to figure out, it is not a guessing game.  There will be signs above the train doors.

Once you get to Jamaica (last stop) you exit.  Upon exiting, you then have to buy a Metrocard to pay for the AirTrain that you just took.  There are lots of Metrocard machines right there, you cannot miss them.  The cost of the AirTrain is $5 BUT the MTA charges you an additional $1 to buy a new Metrocard.  So you are paying $6.

Once you pay your money to leave the AirTrain, you are at the Jamaica Station stop of the Long Island Railroad.  From here, you have two options.  One is to take the Long Island Railroad, the other is to take the subway.  What’s the difference, you ask?

Taking the Long Island Railroad from Jamaica to Manhattan: The Long Island Railroad is a commuter train designed to bring people from Long Island into the city.  The total trip from here to midtown Manhattan will take no longer than fifteen minutes.

If you are arriving between 6:00 am and 10:00 am on a weekday, you are going to be taking a peak train.   The same applies if you are going back to the airport between 4:00 and 8:00 pm on a weekday. This will cost you an additional $9.50 to board IF you buy the ticket before boarding.  VERY IMPORTANT:  If you buy your peak time Long Island Railroad ticket on the train, it will cost you $16.50 instead of the $9.50 it would have been if you had purchased a ticket in advance. Off peak tickets cost $7.00 each way if you purchase a ticket in advance, or $13 if you purchase it on the train.

You can purchase tickets at a vending booth on the level you exit the AirTrain from.

Also VERY IMPORTANT:  If you are indeed taking a peak train with luggage, you may actually not even be able to get on the train because it will be way too packed for  you and your luggage.

EVEN MORE IMPORTANT:  If you have luggage AND you can fit on a train, your dilemma is still not over.  When you get to Penn Station, there is no guarantee at all that you will find a working escalator or elevator.  Or maybe you WILL find a working elevator that is filled with smeared feces or two inches of urine.  If you do not believe me, then you should ride any elevator in Penn Station.  Then you can come back and apologize for calling me a liar.  It’s okay, I forgive you. So PLEASE keep in mind:  You may have to carry your luggage up steps to exit the platform.  

3.  Using a Combination of the AirTrain and Subway:  Recommended if you are solo OR if you are traveling to anywhere not in walking distance of Penn Station.  Not recommended if you have luggage that is hard to handle.

This option is the cheapest.  It may also be the best for you, depending on where you are actually going to.  This can also be complicated to figure out.  I will explain:

The MTA would like you to take the AirTrain to Jamaica and exit like described above in the Long Island Railroad option.   From here, you would exit to outside, where you will be walking on an above ground walkway for the Long Island Railroad.  Keep walking until you reach the other side.  There is an elevator here that takes you downstairs to the E train.   Take this.  Take it to where?  Well that depends on where you are going.  You can use to get your exact directions.  Just make sure you put in the correct date and time.  The subways here are always running weird at nights and on weekends.

How to Get From LaGuardia Airport into Manhattan

Note: There are no subways at LaGuardia.

1.  Taking a Cab:  Recommended ONLY IF you have more luggage than you can handle.  Cabs are expensive.  Avoid them at all costs, especially from airports in NYC!

2.  Taking the Bus to the Subway:

Q72 bus – this bus is absolutely worthless to you if you are going in to Manhattan

M60 bus – This bus stops in Queens at the N and Q lines.  Note: You have to walk up stairs to get to the station platform.  There is no escalator or elevator.  Consider how heavy your luggage is.

This bus also stops in Manhattan at Lexington and 125th Street on the 4, 5 and 6 lines.

The Q70 bus – This will drop you off in Queens at the E, M, F, R and 7 train.  What train line do  you need?   Again, look it up on – making sure you have the correct date and time.  For one example, the M train is a train that runs completely different on weekends than it does on weekdays.   PUT THE CORRECT DATE IN WHEN YOU DO YOUR SEARCH.

How to Get From Newark Airport into Manhattan

Newark Airport is located in New Jersey.  You may think this means that it is the hardest one to get into Manhattan from.  Well you would be wrong.  It is actually the easiest.

1.  Taking a Cab – VERY EXPENSIVE.  Do not take a cab.  Not only is it expensive, there will likely be traffic.  In addition to this, you have to pay tolls.  Do not take a cab. If you cannot manage your luggage on public transportation, STILL DO NOT TAKE A CAB – READ ON

2.  Shuttle bus.  These exist.  I do not recommend them unless you have too much luggage to handle on your own.  I took one once and it took over an hour to go the sixteen miles from midtown Manhattan to Newark Airport.  But if you decide to take one, they are $16 for a bus to midtown Manhattan.  These stop at Grand Central Station (41st Street between Park and Lexington Avenues), Bryant Park (42nd Street) and Fifth Avenue) and Port Authority (41nd Street between 8th and 9th Avenues)

If you have too much luggage to handle, you can take the shuttle bus and then catch a cab once you are in Manhattan.

3.  AirTrain.  This is so much easier than taking the AirTrain from JFK.  Why?  Because you have zero choices.  This makes it simple.  You board the AirTrain and half an hour later, you are in Penn Station.  Easy Peasy. REMEMBER:  Not every track in Penn Station has escalators or elevators.  You may have to walk up steps with your luggage.

If you have any questions or if you are confused (the latter is likely, I tried to keep this simple but unfortunately, the complexity is out of my control) please ask away!

4 thoughts on “How to Get into Manhattan from Any New York City Airport

  1. Robin

    I traveled with heavy bags, and was solo. The shuttle from LaGuardia Airport into Manhattan was a dream. Less than 1/2 the price of a cab, and dropped everyone off at their hotel door so the bags could be handed off to the bellman.


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