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The Fastest Way To Get From JFK To Manhattan

If you’ll be flying into JFK Airport but staying in Manhattan, the approximate distance between your airport terminal and Manhattan itself is only about 20 miles. Unfortunately, in New York City traffic, this commute can easily take well over an hour—especially if your flight lands around rush hour.

At the same time, after you’ve landed at the airport and retrieved your luggage from the baggage carousel, you probably want nothing more than to get your bags to your Manhattan hotel and unwind for a bit before exploring the Big Apple. The good news is that when it comes from getting to JFK to Manhattan in a hurry, you have quite a few options available to you.

The MTA (Subway)

While none of the MTA lines run directly from the airport to Manhattan, you can take the subway for a good portion of your trip and use a $5 AirTrain ticket to get you the rest of the way. This is one of the more budget-friendly options available to you, since you’ll never pay more than $2.75 for a subway ride in NYC, regardless of your destination.

On the flip side, this route is also likely to take at least an hour and a half to get you from point A to point B. Depending on the time of day you’ll be traveling, though, it could still be much quicker than commuting via taxi or bus because this option allows you to avoid streets and traffic altogether. Of course, you’ll be at the mercy of the MTA and AirTrain being on-time, which any New Yorker will tell you is a little hit-or-miss.

Taxi or Rideshare

Another option to consider for getting from the airport to your destination in Manhattan is to use a Taxi or rideshare service, such as Lyft or Uber. Taxis will generally be a bit cheaper, but you may also find yourself waiting in a long line with your carry-on luggage for a cab if your flight arrives during a busy time of day.

If you don’t want to wait in line for a taxi, consider paying a little more to use a rideshare app to get a ride with little to no wait. You can expect to spend at least $50 on a taxi or rideshare to get to Manhattan, and keep in mind that this generally doesn’t include any tips or tolls. Depending on the tip of day, you can expect your trip to take you at least 45 minutes but possibly up to 1.5 hours or more in heavy traffic.

If you’ll be traveling with a group, this can be a budget-friendly option because you can save significantly on your fare by splitting the cost. Even if you’re traveling alone, you may be able to find somebody at the airport who is traveling to the same area and thus would be willing to split the fare.

Long Island Railroad

If you’re looking for something a little more upscale than the MTA, you might want to check out the Long Island Railroad (LIRR), which is a commuter rail that runs from JFK to Penn Station. Note that the LIRR does not have baggage fees like Amtrak baggage fees. From there, you’ll need to take the AirTrain or a cab the rest of the way to Manhattan. The LIRR is a bit more expensive than the subway, so expect to spend at least $10 per one-way ticket. With this plan, you can generally get from JFK to Manhattan in just under an hour—and again, you won’t have to worry about traffic.

Bus Ride

Another budget-friendly option to consider that will take you directly from JFK Airport into Manhattan is the NYC Express Bus. This shuttle service runs from all JFK terminals and drops passengers off at their choice of Port Authority or Grand Central Station. Tickets at affordable at just $19 each (one-way). Of course, if your hotel or final destination isn’t within walking distance of a drop-off location, you will need to take a cab the rest of the way, so be sure to budget for this as well.

The NYC Express Bus can generally get you to Manhattan from JFK in about an hour, but this will vary depending on traffic. Keep in mind that this service is also only available from 11AM until 7PM, so if you have a flight that gets in very early or late, you may not be able to take advantage.

BLADE Helicopter

If cost is not a factor, then taking a BLADE helicopter will be your fastest (and coolest) option for getting from JFK to Manhattan. This incredible service actually picks you up from the airport and takes you to the West Side Highway in Midtown Manhattan. The best part? The trip only takes five minutes. And of course, there’s the added bonus of getting to see all of New York City during your quick fly-over.

As you might expect, this service comes at a premium, with one-way tickets hovering around the $200 mark. Still, if your time is this valuable, the cost may be worth the convenience!

Tips For A Smooth Trip

As you can see, there are quite a few options to consider for getting from JFK Airport to Manhattan. Which is right for you? Start by considering the time of your flight’s scheduled arrival and how much luggage you are carrying. Some services (such as the bus or BLADE) may not be available during certain hours. And of course, if you plan on using a taxi, rideshare, or bus service, you’ll need to plan for potential traffic delays.

Even the MTA and LIRR can be affected by occasional delays, so as a general rule, you should add some “cushion” time to any activities you may have planned upon arrival.

Despite being just 20 miles apart, it can be quite a feat getting from JFK Airport to Manhattan. Fortunately, you’ve got some great options available to you. The key is to choose the one that works best for your needs based on your flight’s scheduled arrival time and your specific budget.

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