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How to navigate JFK Airport easily – John F. Kennedy International Airport guide 

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There are times when even the most hardened veteran flyers wonder how to navigate JFK Airport. So, how to easily get around the airport? This guide will help you in exploring one of the country’s busiest airports.  

Tucked away in the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens the John F. Kennedy International Airport ( JFK) is the most well-known airport in the US. JFK’s international fame can be attributed to starring roles in major Hollywood blockbusters such as The Goodfellas, Catch Me If You Can, and The Terminal. This iconic airport is also the busiest global air passenger gateway into North America. Though not the closest airport to New York City, it’s still the best option for travelers looking to fly out of NYC. The airport is well connected, boasts great facilities, and there will never be a dull even if have to spend hours there. However, it is never easy to get around one of the world’s busiest airports, even if you regularly fly out of JFK. There are times when even the most hardened veteran flyers wonder how to navigate JFK Airport. So, how to easily get around the airport? This guide will help you in exploring one of the country’s busiest airports.  

About JFK Airport 

John F. Kennedy International Airport served around 60 million passengers annually before the pandemic. The airport is located around 16 miles southeast of Midtown Manhattan and is the largest and busiest airport in New York. Over 90 airlines have service from the airport and are a hub for Delta Air Lines and American Airlines. JFK was also the 13th busiest airport in the US in 2020, with more than 70 airlines operating flights out of JFK. The airport covers a surface area of 8.1 sq miles.  

How many terminals does JFK Airport have? It features six terminals with a total of 131 gates. The airport also boasts four runways surrounding the central terminal area.  

Terminals at JKF Airport

JKF Airport Terminal

Terminals 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, and 6 are the six terminals in the airport. The terminal buildings are designed in a deformed U-shaped wavy pattern around the central area containing parking. When at JKF airport, you never have to worry about connecting between the terminals. The AirTrain system and access roads efficiently connect the terminals. You have to exit the security while moving between most of the terminals. You can reach the other terminal by using AirTrain, walking, or boarding a shuttle bus, and again clear the security.   

Info: Till the early 1990s, each terminal was famous by the name of the primary airline that served it. Only Terminal 4 was known as the International Arrivals Building.  

Terminal 1 

This terminal has 11 gates and is one of the terminals that handle Airbus A380 aircraft. Air France, Lufthansa, Korean Air, and Japan Airlines are the main operating carriers of this terminal.  

Terminal 2 

Delta Airlines currently handles this terminal. Delta suspended all its operations last year owing to the pandemic. The Port Authority, which manages JFK Airport, is planning to demolish the terminal in 2022. 

Terminal 4 

With 38 gates and two concourses, this terminal functions as a hub for Delta Airlines. It is the other terminal that can handle Airbus A380 aircraft. Air Europa, China Airlines, Emirates, and JetBlue are some airlines that serve Terminal 4.  

Terminal 5 

This terminal primarily serves JetBlue. Hawaiian Airlines has also operated from this terminal since June 2012. It has around 29 gates.  

Terminal 7 

British Airways currently operate this terminal. Airlines like Alaska Airlines, United Airlines, Iberia, All Nippon Airways, LOT Polish Airlines, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Icelandair, and Ukraine International Airlines also operate out of Terminal 7.  

Terminal 8 

This terminal has 29 gates and is a major hub for the Oneworld airline alliance. Cathay Pacific, Qantas, Qatar Airways, and Royal Jordanian Airlines are some airlines that operate out of Terminal 8. 

How to get to JFK Airport 

get to JFK Airport

The airport is around 18 miles away from New York City. The airport is located on the Van Wyck Expressway (I-678), accessible from Queens Boulevard, Belt Parkway, and Grand Central Parkway. Driving to the airport normally takes around 30 minutes. However, be always aware that the city’s roads can get busy anytime, leading to frequent snarls.

So, this might result in reaching the airport late. Getting an onsite parking spot will be difficult during peak hours, and this will affect your flight plans. So, what should you do to get rid of this hassle? Use the public transportation services or hire a taxi/rideshare service to travel to JFK. It is sure to give you a relaxed journey to the airport. Be mindful that many public transportation services efficiently connect the airport to New York City.  

AirTrain service to JFK Airport

Boarding the AirTrain is the most ideal and easiest way to move around JFK Airport. The AirTrain connects all the terminals to the onsite parking lots and hotel shuttle pick-up area. Why is it the most convenient mode of transportation to reach JFK? The AirTrain connects to the city’s public transportation network through the Jamaica and Howard Beach stations. You can use the AirTrain service for free unless you board from the Jamaica and Howard Beach stations. The journey to JFK costs you $7.75. The service operates 24/7 throughout the year! 

Using the NYC Subway system  

The AirTrain connects all passenger terminals to the New York City Subway system via the Jamaica and Howard Beach stations. Take the E, J, or Z lines in Jamaica or the A-line from Howard Beach. The Subway fares are different from the AirTrain fares. A ticket to JFK costs you $2.75. 

Using the bus service 

Another option to reach the airport is using the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). The MTA has regular bus services between JFK Airport, Queens, Brooklyn, and many subway connections. Q3, Q6, Q7, Q10, Q10 LTD, and B15 are the services you can use to travel between these areas.  

Long Island Railroad  

It is another option to reach the airport from Jamaica Station. This commuter rail connects Penn Station, Atlantic Terminal, and the Long Island destinations to the Jamaica Station. 

New York City’s Yellow cabs 

Using the cab service can be a good option if you don’t want to drive to the airport. Yellow Cabs charges you a flat rate of $52 to travel from the city to JFK Airport. A surcharge of $4.50 will be applicable during peak hours. Another way to reach the airport is to hire a Uber/Lyft service. Ensure to check the rate before you book the service, as peak hours are sure to charge you hefty rates!  

About JFK Airport parking 

You can imagine how hard it will be to get on an onsite parking spot in one of the world’s busiest airports. The airport gets heavily crowded during holidays or peak seasons as many New Yorkers will be flying out! Well, you needn’t worry much about parking as JFK offers around 17,000 parking spaces via six main lots – Green, Blue, Yellow, Orange, Red, and Long-Term. All these lots offer short-term and long-term parking options. The Green, Orange, and Red lots are close to terminals 1, 2, 7, and 8. The Blue and Yellow lots are adjacent to terminals 4 and 5. 

Tip: The lots can fill up quickly during peak hours/seasons. It’s best if you reserve your parking spot in advance.  

Long-term parking at JFK 

Long-term parking at JFK Airport can drain your wallet. Parking your car at the Green, Orange, and Red lots cost you $36 per day. Using the Blue and Yellow lots for daily parking costs you $42 per day. So, what is the best option to use long-term parking in JFK? Use the Long-term lot, and you can park your car for $20 per day!  

Short-term parking at JFK 

You need to pay $4 for the first 30 minutes when you park at the Green, Orange, and Red lots. The parking rate increases by $4 every additional 30 minutes. Using short-term parking in the Blue and Yellow lots charges you $6 for the first 30 minutes. The parking rate surges by $6 for every additional 30 minutes you park at the lots.  

Tip: The maximum daily parking rate at the Green, Orange, and Red lots are $36 per and that in the Blue and Yellow lots is $42 per day. Always Check out the offsite garages and hotel parking lots if you look for secure parking spots at cheaper rates. You can use the Way.com app or website to book a great offsite parking spot near JFK at cheap rates!  

JFK Airport parking from $5

What to do at JFK Airport?   

JFK Airport lounge

Are you waiting to catch your flight? Do you have time to have some fun at the airport? Then JFK Airport is one of the best airports you can do it! There won’t be a dull moment during a layover at the airport if you are ready to explore it! First of all, the airport provides free Wi-Fi to all the passengers. If the layover time is short, you can connect to the free Wi-Fi and start browsing. Maybe you can post a few photos from the airport to your social media, hear some music, or watch videos. It is one way that you can have a relaxed layover at JFK. 

Airport lounges 

Exploring the airport lounges is a good option if you want to experience some premium services. There are around 24 lounges at JFK. Eight of the lounges allow passengers to buy single-entry passes. Seven lounges are accessible to passengers with Priority Pass membership. Since you need to clear the security while moving between the terminals, using the lounges available at your terminal is always preferable. Most of the lounges have services like free Wi-Fi, food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, newspapers and magazines, showers, snacks, and more. Here we list a few of the lounges in JFK Airport. 

  • Air France/KLM Lounge 
  • Lufthansa Business Class Lounge 
  • Delta Sky Club 
  • Primeclass Lounge 
  • Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse  
  • USO Lounge 
  • Alaska Airline Lounge 
  • British Airways Club Lounge 
  • American Airlines Admirals Club 

Do you want to know more about the lounges? Read our blog on JFK Airport Lounges – All You Need to Know. 

Food and Drinks 

What about having some great food and drinks during the layover? JFK Airport features some of the finest restaurants that you should give a try. Eat & Go Istanbul, Euro Cafe, JikJi Café, The LOCAL, and Bento Sushi are some of the restaurants you can visit during your layover. Or do you wish to get refreshed during the break between your flights? Then head to the bars or some of the juice outlets. Martini Bar, New York Sports Bar, Blue Point Brewery, and Due Amici are some of the bars/joints you can try out.  

Do you want to know in detail about the things you can do during a layover? Do read our blog on 10 Things to do on a layover at JFK Airport! 

Where to pick up and drop off at JFK Airport? 

Getting a JFK Airport parking spot is difficult as the lots get filled up most of the time. You needn’t worry about parking your car if you’re driving to the airport to pick up or drop off someone. The airport has Cell Phone Lots which you can use while at the airport to pick up friends or relatives. Same way, Kiss & Fly is a good service that you can use to drop off someone. 

Cell Phone Lots 

JFK Airport has two Cell Phone Lots that are located off the Van Wyck Expressway and the JFK Expressway. Both these lots are about a five-minute drive from the terminals. The lot located off the Van Wyck Expressway has more than 370 spaces, and the one located off the JFK Expressway has nearly 127 spaces. You should never leave the vehicle unattended. 

Kiss & Fly 

It helps you to avoid the traffic when you’re at JFK to drop off someone. You can locate the space at the AirTrain JFK Lefferts Boulevard Station. Once at the station, you can board an AirTrain for a convenient ride to the terminal.   

How to track JFK Airport arrivals? 

Are you going to the airport to pick up someone? You will need to use a parking spot if you reach the airport early. So, what should you do? The airport website has the Flight Tracker service, which gives you accurate information on JFK Airport arrivals. Just check the flight status on the website and drive to the airport on time. Park the car at Cell Phone Lot and wait for the person to come out of the arrivals area. 

JFK Airport parking

Key info about JFK Airport 

  • The airport has six terminals. 
  • There are around 17,000 onsite parking spots in JFK. 
  • Using an AirTrain is the most convenient way to reach JFK Airport from New York City. 
  • Try out the lounges if you have a long layover. 

Check out more blogs on the best parking spots in your city, the most affordable insurance for your car, and top-rated car washes near you.








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