Airtrain JFK: an economical solution to reach Manhattan

Short presentation of AirTrain

The AirTrain is a so-called hectometric transport (fully automated tram system) consisting of two cars and driving without a driver. It has been in operation since 2003 and this shuttle connects JFK airport to the city's subway (and vice versa) as well as to the various suburban trains passing through New York: LIRR, Metro-North Railroad and Amtrak.

In total, the AirTrain serves two metro stations:

  • Jamaica station : which will allow you to reach central Manhattan via line E.
  • Howard Beach Station : from there, you can reach southern Manhattan as well as the Brooklyn district thanks to line A.

Just take the one you need to reach your place of arrival.

AirTrain JFK: an inexpensive solution

Taking the AirTrain from JFK to reach the metro stations and therefore its destination, is a solution very economical. In fact, once you arrive at the airport, the AirTrain will allow you to reach the right terminal in a short time and for free; a very useful system that avoids having to cross the whole airport with your luggage! With the AirTrain, you can then reach Jamaica or Howard Beach metro station depending on your final destination. On average, it takes 1h - 1h30 between the AirTrain and the metro to reach your place of arrival.

The AirTrain is therefore a real good plan! Indeed, the price of a ticket is $ 5 per person and for the metro, the price is $ 3 for a ticket. To compare other solutions (taxi, bus ...), taking the AirTrain and the metro is therefore the cheapest solution, since you will have to pay $ 8 total to reach the center of New York!

Please note: to buy your AirTrain ticket, ATMs are available at the airport and to find out which metro card to choose, here is an article to guide you.

Another tip to save some money: if you are three minimum, opt for the AirTrain card at $ 25. It is valid for 10 trips and with this card, you will pay $ 25 round trip for 3 people and not $ 30.

But is the AirTrain practical?

If the AirTrain is an economical alternative to reach Manhattan, it is however not very practical. In fact, taking the AirTrain and the metro with your luggage is far from comfortable and this can be tiring, especially after hours of flight. So it's up to you to decide according to your budget if you want to save money or pay for another more expensive, but more comfortable mode of transport.

AirTrain New York: where and how to take it?

Have you decided to take the AirTrain to reach the heart of New York? Here's how and where to take it:

  • Once you have passed customs and your luggage has been collected, follow the signs indicating the direction of the AirTrain.
  • Go through the porticoes.
  • Buy the ticket if you haven't done so before.
  • Wait for the AirTrain and get on it.
  • Wait for it to arrive at the correct metro station (Jamaica or Howard Beach) and get off.
  • Then continue your journey by taking the various metro lines to your destination.

On the contrary, if you decide to take the AirTrain to reach JFK airport from central New York, it is also very simple:

  • Take the metro: lines E, J, Z or A depending on where you are coming from.
  • Get off at Jamaica or Howard Beach; you will automatically arrive at the AirTrain station.
  • Buy your ticket and follow the signs to take the AirTrain.
  • Go through the porticoes.
  • Wait for the AirTrain to arrive and get on board.

During the journey, the AirTrain will stop at each terminal, but rest assured! A voice will tell you the next terminal served and once yours has arrived, get off and you are in the airport!

Finally, don't forget that the AirTrain is completely free if you travel only within the airport (when you go from one terminal to another).

Taking the AirTrain is therefore very simple and everything is very well indicated.

Note: the AirTrain runs every 7 minutes during rush hour and every 15 minutes when it is quieter.

The advantages and disadvantages of taking the AirTrain


Taking the AirTrain is a very economical solution compare other means of transport such as taxis or buses. In fact, for the AirTrain + metro, you will have to pay $ 8 per person against $ 17 for the bus. The price of the taxi is higher: $ 50 on average + 15%, or even 20% tip.

In addition, taking the AirTrain is very easy : all you have to do is buy your ticket directly from the vending machines and follow the “AirTrain” signs. So you won't get lost, fear not!

At the airport, the AirTrain is also a good way to switch from one terminal to another without difficulty : Board the shuttle and get off at the correct terminal. Besides being practical, this is also 100% free!

The inconvenients

If the AirTrain allows significant savings, this means of transport is not the most practical solution. Indeed, you will have to walk to take the shuttle and the journey time can be long after hours of flying by plane. In addition, if you have to take several metro lines to reach your destination, this may be tiring.

So, are you going to take the AirTrain to get to central New York from JFK airport?

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