John F. Kennedy International Airport

Airplanes waiting to take off at JFK

John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK  IATA) is in the borough of Queens, New York. As one would expect of the main airport of a city like the Big Apple, JFK is one of the busiest airports worldwide and also the busiest airport in the USA in terms of international passenger traffic.


Landing or taking off from JFK has been much improved by the addition of the multibillion-dollar Bay Runway in 2010, but due to sheer volume, it remains the worst airport in the country in terms of flight delays. If possible, do not connect using JFK, especially when switching terminals. If you must connect via JFK, make sure you have sufficient time: For connections from domestic (US or Canada) flights to other destinations in the US or Canada, allow 2–3 hours; for transfers from domestic to international destinations, allow 3–4 hours; for international to domestic, 3–5 hours; and for international to international, 3–6 hours. International travellers other than those from Canada, Bermuda or Visa-Waiver Program countries are most strongly advised to avoid connecting in JFK to other international flights, as the security and immigration procedures for non-US citizens are monumentally time-consuming and tiresome.

JFK has no direct public transport connections with other airports serving New York City, such as Newark (EWR) or LaGuardia (LGA). Connections that require you to travel from one airport to another are very difficult and expensive, particularly around rush hour, and will likely involve an expensive taxi, Uber, or Lyft ride. It is possible to connect from JFK to EWR by taking a four-legged, two-hour public transport trip; each leg requires a separate fare per person. Connecting between JFK and LGA requires at least three journeys on public transport, with fares on each.

If you arrive at this airport from overseas, be prepared to wait in line at Customs & Border Protection, often over an hour if you are not a permanent resident of the United States. As cellphones are not allowed in waiting lines, you may want to bring a book or other non-digital entertainment.

If you are departing from this airport, beware that, as a huge and congested airport with five terminals, it's recommended that you make sure before you arrive what terminal you are departing from, such as by doing a search for your airline at JFK's site, linked at the top of the page, and try to arrive 2 hours before domestic flights and 3 hours before international ones, to check in and pass through security without a huge increase in blood pressure and/or a last minute dash worthy of the Olympics, but without any of the medals.

In the 2020s, A New JFK, a $19 billion project, involves major construction on four of JFK's five terminals. Terminal 2 ended operations in January 2023 so that it could be demolished for construction of a new Terminal One (replacing Terminal 1, with a numeral) in 2026, for example. There are frequent reroutes on the roads and at terminals during construction; even experienced flyers may be disoriented when arriving at JFK for the first time in a while. Confirm with your airline about where your flights arrive and depart, and allow extra time to get around the airport.


Too many terminals

While JFK still has more terminals than most major airports, it is at its smallest terminal count in history. When the airport opened, it had a whopping ten terminals, meaning that it reversed the trend among airport expansion by slowly decreasing the terminal count over time (mostly since older ones would be demolished to make way for other terminals to be renovated or replaced).

There are five terminals (1, 4, 5, 7, and 8) that are not so close to each other, so it is important to note which terminal your flight leaves from. Check the JFK Airport website or with your airline for the correct terminal before you go. Terminals 2, 3, 6, and 9, and the remote Tower Air terminal, have been decommissioned; the A New JFK project will replace Terminal 7 with a newly built Terminal 6. Old maps or guides might send you to the wrong place, although signage aboard AirTrain JFK is kept up to date.

The airlines that serve JFK are spread across the airport. Delta Air Lines operates a major international hub out of Terminal 4, while American Airlines has a hub in Terminal 8. Terminal 5 serves as the base of operations for low-cost carrier JetBlue. Most of the international airlines which serve JFK are split between Terminals 1 and 4, though there are also some operating out of Terminals 5, 7, and 8.

The terminal colors are related to the parking garage that serves them, for example Terminal 1 is colored green because it is served by the green garage.

The terminals are encountered in the order of their numbers - for example, you will get to Terminal 7 after passing 5.

The airport only has one airside shuttle, for passengers on connecting American/JetBlue itineraries between terminals 5 and 8. Other than that, there is no sterile transit between terminals, and moving between them requires exiting and re-clearing security. Extra time should be allocated for transferring between terminals.

  Terminal 1
Aeroflot, Air China, Air France, Austrian Airlines, Azerbaijan Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Cayman Airways, China Eastern Airlines, EVA Air, ITA Airways, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Lufthansa, Norwegian, Philippine Airlines, Royal Air Maroc, Saudia, Turkish Airlines, Viva Aerobus.
  Terminal 4
Aeromexico, Air Europa, Air India, Air Serbia, All Nippon Airways, Asiana Airlines, Avianca, Caribbean Airlines, China Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Copa Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Eastern Airlines, EgyptAir, El Al, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Hainan Airlines, Kenya Airways, KLM, Kuwait Airways, LATAM, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Swiss International Air Lines, Uzbekistan Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Volaris, WestJet, XiamenAir
  Terminal 5
Cape Air, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue, TAP Air Portugal
  Terminal 7
Aer Lingus, Aerolineas Argentinas, Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Eurowings, Iberia, Icelandair, LOT Polish Airlines, Norse Atlantic Airways, Ukraine International Airlines
  Terminal 8
Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Ethiopian Airlines, Finnair, Iberia, Level Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian

All the terminals at JFK have customs and immigration facilities to process the arrival of international flights. JetBlue international arrivals between 10:30PM and 5AM, with the exception of those from airports with U.S. Customs & Border Protection preclearance facilities, are processed at Terminal 4, as Terminal 5's customs and immigration facilities do not operate 24 hours a day.

Ground transportation[edit]

OMNY replacing MetroCard

The MTA is migrating to a new contactless payment system called OMNY. With OMNY you can use a smartphone or contactless card (i.e. credit cards with the symbol) to pay for fares on all New York City buses and subways, including valid transfers. AirTrain JFK began accepting OMNY payments in October 2023. The LIRR is expected to add OMNY in the future. The MetroCard will continue to be supported until it is phased out in 2024.

To get to the city, you can choose between the bus (slow and cheap), AirTrain plus subway or train (less painful, but more expensive than the bus), many shuttle services (more expensive than public transport), or a cab (likely most expensive). With the waiting time for taxis and traffic, the train is often the fastest option.

JFK is in Queens, 12 miles southeast of Lower Manhattan. From the Financial District, it is accessible via the Williamsburg Bridge, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the Long Island Expressway, and the Van Wyck Expressway. From Midtown Manhattan, take the Queens Midtown Tunnel onto the Queens Midtown Expressway, which eventually continues onto the Long Island Expressway, from which you can turn off onto the Van Wyck Expressway towards JFK.

To travel between the city and JFK:

  • MTA NYC Bus - costing $2.90 (with MetroCard or OMNY, $3.00 single-ride ticket), these are the cheapest methods of transport, although the slowest to Manhattan. The buses depart from a new ramp near Terminal 5 (signs inside Terminal 5 will point the way). These buses have little room for luggage and go to non-touristy neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn. However, they offer connections to the subway and Long Island Railroad. Free transfers between bus and subway are available only with MetroCard or OMNY; the single ride ticket does not allow free transfers. Coins (not bills) are needed to board the buses without a MetroCard or OMNY. MetroCards are sold at Hudson Newsstands in Terminals 1 and 5. Bus to subway/LIRR transfers include:
    • Q10[dead link] to:
      • Ozone Park-Lefferts Blvd (20 minutes): A train
      • Jamaica Avenue and Lefferts Blvd: J and Z trains (walk 3 blocks east to 121st Street Station)
      • Kew Gardens (30 minutes): Transfer here to the Long Island Railroad (Kew Gardens Station) with service to Penn Station ($9.00 peak, $6.50 off-peak, $5.00 weekends with CityTicket), Brooklyn, and Long Island. While this option is cheaper than taking the AirTrain to Jamaica and connecting there to the LIRR, LIRR service from here is much less frequent than LIRR service from Jamaica.
      • Kew Gardens-Union Turnpike (35 minutes): E and F trains. During rush hours, from this stop, you can take express buses X63, X64, X68, QM18, and QM21 to Manhattan. While these routes are slower and more expensive than taking the subway, they do offer a ride on cloth seats without the crowding. Ask where the bus stops are. One ride on an express bus costs $6, but it is $3.50 as step-up fare if you transfer from the Q10 bus and pay for both with a MetroCard.
    • Q3 to:
      • Jamaica-179th Street (45 minutes): F train
    • B15 to:
      • Ashford Street & New Lots Avenue (30 minutes): 3 train.
      • Van Sinderen Ave & New Lots Avenue (35 minutes): L train.
      • Fulton Street & Kingston-Throop Avenues (60 minutes): C train.
      • Flushing Avenue and Broadway: J train all times except weekdays 7AM-1PM towards Manhattan & 1PM-8PM away from Manhattan, M train weekdays

Note that transfers from the B15 to the subway are in some of Brooklyn's roughest neighborhoods, so this route is not recommended at night or for people unfamiliar with the city.

JFK AirTrain
  • AirTrain JFK — A people mover system that runs 24 hours daily, connecting all airline terminals, Lefferts Blvd Station (airport parking), and the Federal Circle Station (Car rental & hotel shuttles) for free and $8.50 to enter and to leave through the Howard Beach and Jamaica stations, with connections to other MTA services. If you're traveling in a group of 2 to 4, you might save money by buying a 10-trip pass for $25 (plus $1 for a new MetroCard); it can be used up to 10 times, by up to 4 people at a time, within 30 days of its first use. Multi-trip passes for AirTrain JFK are not valid on other MTA services, like the subway or LIRR, and they cannot be added to an existing MetroCard.
    • Connecting to the LIRR from Jamaica — This takes about 35 minutes in total, but is more expensive. To ride the LIRR within the city, you can buy a CityTicket at a ticket office, a ticket machine, or on the MTA TrainTime app. A CityTicket costs $7.00 during peak hours and $5.00 during off-peak hours; this is in addition to the AirTrain JFK fare. Eastbound trains to Long Island are priced based on zones and time of day; the MTA TrainTime app will provide specific information for each train. Elevators are available at Jamaica and Penn Stations.
    • Connecting to the subway — This takes about 60 minutes in total, but is less expensive. From Howard Beach, take the 'A' train to Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan. From Jamaica, take the 'E' Train to Queens and Lower Manhattan, or the 'J' and 'Z' trains to Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan. Pay for a subway fare using an OMNY card or using contactless payment with a card, phone, or watch; there is no lower-cost transfer from an AirTrain JFK fare. If returning to the airport on the A train, make sure the destination signs read Far Rockaway or Rockaway Park. Trains to Lefferts Blvd. do not connect directly to the airport! Between midnight and 6 AM, the A train makes local stops, so journey time will be slower at that time of day.
  • Go Airlink Shuttle - Shared van service to or from most of Manhattan for $17–20 one way. 10% discount for online booking.
  • Taxi — The most flexible route into the city from JFK is a taxi, although the wait for one can be long when many flights arrive simultaneously. Taxi fare to Manhattan runs a flat $70 (or $75 during peak hours), plus other taxes and surcharges, tolls and tips, which can make the bill total $90 or more. Up to 4 passengers can take a single cab, and up to 5 can take a single van. Taxis to points other than Manhattan and taxis to the airport from anywhere use the meter (see taxis in "Get around"). During peak periods, you may have to wait up to 30 minutes for a taxi. See the warning about taxi scammers below for an important notice about drivers who prey on visitors who don't want to wait in a long taxi line.
  • Uber and Lyft — Both apps serve JFK airport, with prices noted in the app. Verify that your car and driver match the ones listed in the app.
  • Unlicensed taxis — The arrivals terminals are filled with drivers hawking illegal livery rides. See the warning about taxi scammers below. If you want to take one of these, be sure to negotiate the fare in advance and make sure that it is cheaper than the taxi fare noted above. This also saves the wait in the taxi line. In general, though, it is not recommended if you are unfamiliar with the city, as these drivers tend to increase the price at the end of the trip through different excuses.
  • Car service/limousines - An alternative to taxis, car services are useful for getting to the airport from the outer boroughs where taxis are harder to find, or if you prefer to have transportation reserved in advance. You can compare prices on
Caution Note: Taxi scammers

Scammers outside of the arrivals terminals at JFK will claim to be Uber drivers and that their original fare cancelled their ride in an effort to offer their services. In many cases they will show the Uber logo either on a sign or on a smartphone.

Under no circumstances should you accept such offers! These people are not Uber drivers and many of them are not even licensed taxi drivers.

These scammers will charge several times the rate into Manhattan, plus suddenly add extras, such as “tax” and “tip.” In some cases, drivers have charged as much as $1,300 from originally unsuspecting passengers.

If somebody like this approaches you, simply and firmly say “No.” Do not let them touch any of your luggage and do not allow them to intimidate you in any way.

Do not hesitate to call the police on 911 if the scammers persist. The authorities will always back you in such incidents, despite the scammer's threats of possible arrest or deportation.

(Information last updated 13 Mar 2023)

Get around[edit]

Airport map, including the AirTrain system, as of June 2022

AirTrain JFK, which is free of charge within the airport, connects the terminals, but only landside. There's virtually no airside transportation between the terminals, so if you have to change between terminals to make a connection, you will have to go through security again. The only exception is the one between terminals 5 and 8 for passengers connecting between American and JetBlue flights.

Due to construction projects, AirTrain service may be delayed or limited. Review signs at each terminal and its AirTrain station. Allow extra time to get around the airport.

Within terminals, if your flight leaves from or arrives at a high-numbered gate, consider using a free motorized shuttle, especially if you are carrying heavy or bulky luggage or would otherwise have trouble walking long distances. (Terminal 4 is nearly half a mile, or 800 meters, long!) Some gates are really quite far from the security check area and the baggage claim area. Drivers do not expect to be tipped for driving you.


JFK has a large number of airline lounges scattered throughout all of its terminals

Terminal 1[edit]

  • Lufthansa Business and Senator Lounge
  • Korean Air First and Business Lounges (also accessible through Priority Pass)
  • Air France/KLM Lounge. First class passengers have access to the Korean Air Lounge, business class passengers should go to the Lufthansa lounge.

Terminal 4[edit]

  • Delta Sky Club
  • Wingtips Lounge (Priority Pass)
  • Swiss Business and First Class HON Lounge
  • Emirates
  • Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse
  • El Al King David Lounge
  • Air India Maharajah Lounge
  • Etihad Airways First and Business Lounge

Terminal 5[edit]

  • Aer Lingus
  • JetBlue Rooftop Terrace

Terminal 7[edit]

  • Alaska Lounge. (Also accessible through Priority Pass)
  • British Airways Galleries Lounge, First Class Lounge, and Concorde Room

Terminal 8[edit]

  • American Admirals Club, Flagship Lounge, and Flagship First Dining

Eat and drink[edit]

All terminals have extensive choices for food post-security. Only Terminal 1, however, has a dedicated food court pre-security, with many well-known chains such as Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts, McDonald's and Sbarro's.


  • There are plenty of ATMs, but almost all charge a $2–3 fee per withdrawal.


Wi-Fi is available throughout the airport, typically for free. Outlets are generally plentiful in recently remodeled terminals.


  • Information the information counters near entrances of the terminals do have well-informed people who can pacify and inform flustered or confused travellers about where departures and changes in services can be determined - as well as being able to hand out very useful maps for anyone about to utilise the NY trains system
  • Left luggage services are available in the arrivals areas of Terminal 1 and Terminal 4 and cost $4–16 per bag per day, depending on size.
  • Luggage trolleys are available either for a fee of $5 in Terminals 3, 7, and 8, or free in Terminals 1 and 4.
  • If you're flying Delta or Korean Air, they offer showers in their lounges.


The sole hotel on the grounds of the airport is the TWA Hotel, which was converted from the iconic former TWA Terminal designed by renowned Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen for use by the now-defunct Trans World Airways (TWA).

There are also plenty of chain motels of all service levels are just past the edge of the airport in the neighborhood of Jamaica, with most running shuttle buses to/from the airport. Hotel shuttles pick up from the Federal Circle station on the Jamaica and Howard Beach AirTrain lines, which is free within the airport.

If you're really short on cash, sleeping in the airport is an option, although not an overly pleasant one. Seating can be limited depending on which terminal you're in, the terminals can get cold (so bring a sweater at the very least) and while the cleaning staff generally won't bother you, their loud machines can wake you up. If you're worried about your bags getting stolen, luggage storage is available for a fee in Terminals 1 and 4, although the one in Terminal 4 is the only one open 24 hours a day, in case you need to access your bags before 7AM.


The only neighborhood that's really nearby is Jamaica.

Routes through John F. Kennedy International Airport
Howard Beach/Jamaica  N  S  END

This huge airport travel guide to John F. Kennedy International Airport is a usable article. It has information on flights and ground transportation as well as some complete entries for food and beverage options at the airport. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.