July 21, 2010

From the Airport to the Big City

You're in New York. You have arrived! (Both literally and figuratively). But since there's no room on the island for an airport you need to get to the city. How? Well buckle up, my friend, and I'll tell ya. But first, the basics:

1) There are 3 major airports: JFK (in Queens), La Guardia (in Queens) and Newark (in New Jersey)
2) JFK is enormous, like a small city. It's the main hub for Jet Blue, and is also a major international gateway hub for Delta and American. La Guardia is much smaller, closest to the city and a hub for American Eagle. Newark is in between, size-wise, and the second largest hub for United Airlines.
3) When approaching La Guardia you may feel as though you're going to land in the water. Don't freak out, there's a runway there.
4) It's not common practice to meet guests at the airport because most of us don't have cars.

With 4) said, here's how you do it:
• Cab: There are cab stands outside the baggage area of all 3 airports. Follow the signs for "ground transportation" and you'll see people and cabs lined up.
JFK to Manhattan: flat fare of $45, plus bridge/tunnel tolls. (time: one hour)
La Guardia to Manhattan: no set fare, the metered rates apply, plus tolls. (time: 45 minutes)
Newark to Manhattan: no set fare, metered rates apply, plus a $15 surcharge - plus tolls going and returning. (time: 45 minutes)

• Car service: Schedule a pick-up when you arrive or do it online prior. Or you can take your chance that the black Lincoln Town Car is indeed a car service and not just a guy trying to make a buck on his own with no car insurance.

• Train: This is how many New Yorkers do it if our luggage isn't too heavy and it's not too late.
From JFK: take the AirTrain from the airport to the A train (subway). The A takes you directly into the city (time: one hour).
From LaGuardia: no train/subway from here, but you can take a bus (see information below).
From Newark: take the AirTrain to NJ Transit (Newark International Airport stop). You'll need to purchase a ticket for the NJ train going to NEW YORK Penn Station (not Newark Penn Station, which the train will stop at first). When you arrive at Penn Station you'll have the option of the 1/2/3 and A/C/E subway lines. (time: 45 minutes)

• Bus: From JFK and La Guardia the bus will drop you off at Grand Central Station (midtown east) or Port Authority (midtown west). From Newark, the bus will drop you off at Port Authority only. (JFK time: 1 hour 20 minutes, the other 2, about an hour)

All times listed above are approximate, but if you're doing the reverse and leaving New York make sure and give yourself an extra hour. Besides massive traffic, you never know when you'll encounter construction, accidents or train problems. Then you'll miss your plane and have to stay longer. But...that wouldn't be so bad now, would it?

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