JFK airport is located in Queens, New York, roughly 12 miles outside of Manhattan. JFK is the busiest international airport into the US and the largest airport in New York.
If you’re not from the New York city area, you’re most likely starting your trip to JFK airport traveling by train to Penn Station in New York City. Most of the major regional and Amtrak trains going to New York City stop at New York Penn Station. There are a few options to get to the JFK airport from Penn Station, the most popular of which include traveling by train, subway, bus, and taxi. If you’d rather go by train, your best option would be the Long Island Railroad which is located in Penn Station terminal.
New York City to Long Island Railroad
Penn Station is crowded at almost all times of the day. Although you may be initially thrown off at the size of the crowd, signs for the long island railroad are placed throughout the concourse and are easy to see. The entrance to the Long Island Railroad station is through a small corridor and down an escalator. Once you reach the main floor, head towards one of the many ticket kiosks spread out on the floor.
Be prepared for lines at the ticket kiosk. When I was there, it was around 6pm on a Friday and there were atleast 20 to 30 people in line at each ticket kiosk I looked at. Although it looks daunting, the line moves reasonably fast. It was probably a 20 minute wait for me to make it to the ticket kiosk. Once at the ticket kiosk, choose travel from Penn station to Jamaica station.
Long Island Railroad to Jamaica Station
Trains on this line operate 24 hours a day. A peak ticket is $10 one way and an off-peak ticket is $7.25 one way. Peak travel is from 6am through 10am and from 4pm through 8pm. If you don’t want to wait in line, you can pay for tickets in cash on the train, but there will be an additional charge of $6 during peak travel and an additional $5.75 charge during off-peak travel.
The ticket you receive to the Jamaica station won’t have any train information on it. As you walk to the train entrances, you’ll notice signs for 11 different trains (Babylon, City Terminal Zone, Far Rockaway, Hempstead, Long Beach, Montauk, Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson, Port Washington, Ronkonkoma, and West Hempstead).
As you can see from the map below, you only need to avoid the train to Port Washington. All other trains go to Jamaica station on their way to various other locations. These trains leave frequently throughout the day, so if you miss one train, another train will be leaving within 5 to 10 minutes.
Be careful of express trains. Certain express trains to beaches and other more distant locations will completely skip Jamaica station. So make sure you don’t inadvertently jump on an express train that skips Jamaica.
Jamaica Station to JFK Airtrain
After reaching Jamaica station, follow signs for the JFK airtrain. The JFK airtrain runs 24 hours a day and costs $5. During peak hours (4am to 730am and 3pm to 8pm), the airtrain runs every 7 to 12 minutes. During off peak hours, it runs every 15 to 20 minutes. From the Jamaica station, the airtrain stops at Federal Circle (rental cars and airport hotel shuttles) and terminals 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, and 8. Travel from Jamaica station to the airline terminals is approx. 10 minutes.
– Total travel time from Penn Station New York City to JFK airport is approx. 35 to 45 minutes
– Take the Long Island Railroad from Penn Station to Jamaica station
– From Jamaica station take the JFK Airtrain to the airport terminal stops
– Total cost during peak hours is $15 and total cost during off-peak is $12.25