JFK AirTrain: Why Mess with Uber to Manhattan?

The Air Train to Manhattan from JFK Transport Review is part of the never-ending TPOL in NYC Trip Report.

All these years, I’ve been taking Uber to and from JFK. Either Pool was very cheap or I had a half-off ride promo that made it worthwhile for me to avoid public transport. And since I’ve been staying in Long Island City, it was also the most convenient option.

This time, I landed and checked Uber to Manhattan. It was $47 for Pool, assuming that the driver would show up (see Uber Pool JFK: Scam!) or $70 for X. I mustered the courage to take AirTrain to the most dreaded place on earth, the NY subway system. I hopped on the AirTrain with no ticket and wondered how and when I was supposed to pay for the ticket (see Scammed or Stupid? A Big Fine in Palermo). The train made stops at each terminal until I arrived at Jamaica station. That journey took 15 minutes. From there, riders have to buy an MTA card for $6 ($5 for the ride, $1 for the card) in order to exit the station. I forgot my card in Scottsdale, TPOL’s other home, which cost me that extra dollar.

After that, I took the E train down to 42nd Street. That cost the standard $2.75. That ride took about 45 minutes. All things considered, the AirTrain + subway is a convenient way to get to Manhattan. Depending on traffic, it may be faster than driving. Train to Manhattan from JFK

If you’re staying in Manhattan and going to the airport during an Uber surge or if you do not want to deal with traffic, consider the AirTran + subway combo.


  1. I’ll never understand why this option has such a bad reputation. The only reasons I can think of are:
    1) It takes about an hour: but how much time-savings do other options offer? Little? None? Negative?
    2) Luggage during transfers: Yeah, it’s not ideal, but not the end of the world
    3) Luggage on the subway train: Your picture is a good representation. Again, it’s not ideal, but not the end of the world.

    The real problems are:
    1) JFK is located far from Manhattan
    2) Getting around NYC is a pain, regardless of how you do it
    3) New Yorkers tend to be primadonnas (there, I said it)

  2. I agree, the E train to Jamaica station/AirTrain is pretty great considering the alternatives. For a little bit more you can take LIRR (if the schedule matches with departure or arrival) instead of the E train.

  3. I’ve taken the A train from Howard Beach going towards Manhattan the last time I used the Airtrain heading to Chinatown… but if your final destination is midtown/Penn Station, then sounds like LIRR is the better option? (cost not being a concern here)

    • Ha, ha, ha! The A train to the UES! Nightmare if it shows up on time, no construction work and runs express like it’s supposed to, but hell on earth if it is late and/or decides to go local thru Brooklyn. Barf. The time to Jamaica Center on the AirTrain is the same as to Howard Beach, might as well go catch the E/F. But I’ll concede that to lower Manhattan or, god forbid, Brooklyn, the A is OK.

      Don’t pooh, pooh me. I’ve ridden that damn thing many times all the way from Rockaway, or parked at Aqueduct and ride into the city. The A train just doesn’t have the same spirit as, say, the 7 train. The A clientele is so, ugh.

      Who remembers the “Train to the Plane” service? That limited express service was the bomb!

  4. I think for the cost and total time, it’s pretty hard to beat. Having a few bags that were heavy would probably be the only time this would not work for someone. It can be confusing the first time you take it trying to figure out where to go, but every time after that, you save a lot of time.

  5. I’ll tell you exactly why this option has a bad reputation. Because American transit system is crap. There, I said it. I am an American. Every time I come back home through JFK from overseas from other advanced nations, it absolutely feels like I’ve gone back in time. NYC is supposed to be the “greatest city in the world”. But it lacks a dedicated high speed train from its main international airport to downtown. Poor showing.

Leave a Reply