John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) is the busiest airport in New York. Located in East Queens, right next to the water, this sprawling airport primarily handles international flights. 41 million passengers rush through its 9 terminals every year, whether their intention is to visit New York City or make a simple flight transfer.
If you are travelling from abroad to visit the city, this is the most likely airport for you to fly into and out of since more than 90 airlines operate out of JFK. All of these figures may seem daunting, but JFK is surprisingly easy to navigate, thanks to its organisation. I have always encouraged fellow travellers to be bold and take the subway from the airport into the city, although, of course, it depends on your budget and the age range of your family members. Here are your best options:
- Take a cab from right outside of the terminal. In New York, there are two kinds of cabs to choose from. There are the famous yellow taxi cabs, whose drivers work for a legitimate company and have a set fare per journey. As it happens, the flat-rate fare (plus tolls) to any Manhattan location is $45 (for destinations outside of Manhattan, consult the TLC guide). There is no additional charge for luggage and rates are based per car, not per passenger. These cabs are well equipped with a highly entertaining screen in the back seat, which plays announcements from mayor Bloomberg and the city of New York, as well as serving as the passengers’ own pre-programmed Satellite Navigation system.
Above that screen is a credit and debit card machine, which accepts all major cards and enables the passenger to pay right there, regardless of whether they are carrying any cash. The black cabs, on the other hand, are operated by individuals, who are hoping to make a quick buck. Although these guys are often very willing to charge you less, (and I won’t lie, I used them on many a night out with friends in the city) the fact remains that they are not associated with any one taxi company and thus, don’t have a set of rules and regulations or standards to uphold. Better to stick with the trusted crowd.
- Take the subway. In order to take the subway into the city, you must first of all board the AirTrain, a shuttle service which provides transport in and out of JFK Airport Long Island Railroad (LIRR) and MTA New York City Transit subways and buses. Follow the signs for the AirTrain as soon as you leave your gate. The fare for the service is $7.25 for passengers boarding the E or A train, both going to Manhattan, and $13.75 if you want to go specifically to Penn Station in Manhattan via Queens. Payment at the turnstile for the AirTrain also covers the subway fare. AirTrain is accessible by elevator and is wheelchair and stroller friendly.
Newark International Airport (EWR) is the second busiest airport serving New York and it is based in- surprise- New Jersey. Although this airport is also the smaller of the two, it is still considered a large airport and it provides the passenger with modern facilities. On top of that, you get a stunning view of New York City as your plane descends across the Hudson, passing the Statue of Liberty, finally landing on tarmac on the water’s edge. It also won first prize for this year’s “Best Food and Beverage Program” for large airports in the ACI-NA Airport Concessions Contest. In order to access transport in and out of Newark, use the following guidelines:
- Take the train. Passengers are required to AirTrain Newark system to connect to a NJ TRANSIT or Amtrak train. The AirTrain will cost you $5.50 and connects you to an Amtrak train to Penn Station in New York City. Here comes the bad news. In order to get from Newark International to Penn Station, you must pay for the ticket, which ranges from $25-$50, depending on how early you book it- and that’s the internet price. If this seems like a big expense and a lot of organisation to you, try the next option.
- Take a taxi to the city. The sample fare for a taxi to Manhattan runs between $50 and $70, (only applicable if above W 185th St.) with the price increasing the further north you travel. Please bear in mind that during weekday rush hours and on weekends, there is an additional $5 surcharge to all points in the state of New York, except Staten Island. Also, travellers should know that tipping is customary for good service. Taxis are charged per cab and not per person, and there is also the option to pay a Group Ride Rate, which ranges from $18-26, depending on Manhattan zone. Try to make use of this and spare some dollars for the shops.
N.B. If you have never flown internationally with an infant and you are now in the situation where you’re flying with a lap child, please remember this awesome tip that I was given: Always mouse over the bulkhead seat on the particular aircraft you will be flying in to check if you can book it. Some airlines who use larger planes such as the Boeing 747-400 give passengers the option to go online to change seats ahead of time (my advice is do it right away). On the Boeing 747-400, bulkhead seats located in the centre section (behind the curtain or wall) have bassinets called “sky cots” that allow infants a place to sleep. This provides tremendous relief for mum or dad- and the infant enjoys a comfy free flight!