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Parking at John F. Kennedy
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There are more than 15,000 car parking spaces at JFK, including multi-level garages, surface parking at the terminals, long-term parking, a cell phone lot and a range of meet and greet, valet and park and ride services both on- and off-site.
Pick-up and drop-off points are signposted outside the arrivals and departures areas of each terminal. Cell-phone lots are located just inside the main entrances to the airport property where you can wait free of charge for your passengers to clear baggage reclaim and get outside the arrivals area. Short-term hourly parking can also be found in the parking garages opposite each terminal if you want to leave your car to see someone off or meet them at arrivals.
The most convenient parking choices on-site at the airport are provided by the garages and lots opposite each terminal, all of which offer an hourly rate with a daily cap. These are great options for passengers on a short trip or who want the quickest access to their terminal without having to worry about shuttle buses.
Long-term economy parking offers more cost efficiency, but a little less convenience. Located at the edge of the airport property, economy parking connects to the terminals via the AirTrain and complimentary shuttle buses. These typically run every 10 minutes and take only a few minutes to get to the terminals.
Additional parking capacity is provided by a number of off-site park and ride and valet facilities.
For the valet service, a driver meets you curbside at departures as you arrive and takes your vehicle to park it for you at a secure off-site lot. The same service will typically have your vehicle ready and waiting for you curbside at arrivals on your return.
Self-parking is also available at the off-site lots and connects you to the airport terminals with complimentary shuttle buses. Most off-site lots are just a few minutes’ bus ride from the airport.
John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York is the fifth-busiest airport in the USA with almost 60 million people traveling through it each year. The airport is a hub for American Airlines and Delta Air Lines and is the primary operating base for JetBlue Airways.
Over 70 passenger carriers fly to 100 destinations on all six populated continents and a similar number of cargo carriers ensure JFK is the primary international air gateway into the USA. There are 125 gates spread across six terminals and four runways with over 400,000 take-offs and landings every year on nine miles (14.5 kilometers) of runway and 25 miles (40.2 kilometers) of taxiways.
From the control tower down to the valets working the parking lots, the airport employs more than 35,000 people and delivers $37 billion of economic impact to the region - it’s thought to generate over a quarter of a million jobs down the supply chain. Development programs are always in motion to improve runways, taxiways, terminals and air traffic control systems to ensure that JFK maintains its position of significance in world air travel.
Set on the coast about 12 miles (20 kilometers) from Manhattan in Queens, John F Kennedy International Airport is easily accessed by main roads and public modes of transport. I-495 is the main Interstate route through Queens and Long Island, connecting directly to JFK Airport via the I-678. It originates in Midtown Manhattan, whilst the I-278 proves a better route from uptown or Lower Manhattan. From outside New York, the main routes into Manhattan are the I-95 running through all the major East Coast cities and the I-78, I-80 and I-87 running from the north and west.
The JFK AirTrain connects the terminals and parking lots at the airport, but also joins the MTA Subway, bus network and Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) at Jamaica Station and Howard Beach to make the airport easily reachable from across the city. Jamaica Station is connected to a vast number of train and bus services originating from stops across Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island. The journey from Midtown Manhattan takes approximately 30 minutes by car and 50-60 minutes by public transport.
The AirTrain is also ideal for quick transfers to Newark Airport if you have a connecting flight, but if you prefer a road route, various private hire taxis and shuttles are available between JFK, Newark and LaGuardia.
Established as Idlewild Airport in 1943 due to overcrowding at LaGuardia, JFK opened in 1948 as New York International Airport. It had a unique architectural design by which each airline was given a plot of land to build its own terminal that perfectly suited its needs. International traffic flocked to the airport as permits for foreign airlines were canceled at LaGuardia to spread the demand across both airports.
Further traffic arrived via Newark Airport, which closed for several months in 1952 after a serious accident, but the time that really pushed JFK ahead as New York's primary air gateway was the inception of the jet age. JFK was the first New York airport to be jet-ready, with the first jetliner having landed there in 1950. Regular jet aircraft schedules didn't arrive until 1958, but this was still five years ahead of LaGuardia and, by the early 1960s, JFK was carrying more passengers than Newark and LaGuardia combined.
In 1963, New York International Airport, still widely known as Idlewild, was renamed John F Kennedy Airport at the urging of then-New York mayor, Robert F Wagner, a month after the assassination of President Kennedy.
The 1970s saw Concorde make JFK its home in the USA, where it stayed until retirement in 2003, which was around the same time that the JFK AirTrain was completed, connecting the airport to the city rail and bus networks.
Further development added or rebuilt four terminals, ensuring it was the first airport in the USA to see an Airbus A380 landing in 2007 and the first with regular scheduled A380 flights in 2008. Major redevelopments to the tune of $10 billion aim to increase passenger numbers by 25% within three years.
The JFK Airport hotels, terminals and parking lots are spread across almost 900 acres (364.2 hectares) of land, packing in hundreds of concessions, including bars, restaurants, fast food chains, banks and duty free shopping.
Welcome centers can be found in each terminal, where staff direct and assist passengers with any questions, whilst color-coded signage guides passengers through the terminals (yellow signs direct to flight-related services such as gates, green signs direct to ground transportation services such as rail links and black signs lead to general amenities such as restrooms).
Other useful information services are a pair of radio stations found at frequencies 1630AM and 1700AM that advise on traffic volumes around the airport and information on JFK delays, flights, news and car parking availability.
Combining hotel and parking at JFK is a popular option for those flying out early or landing late. It sometimes works out cheaper to book this way, so it’s great for convenience and cost.
Whilst packages vary depending on the hotel, the general offer is up to two weeks of free parking and a free shuttle bus to and from the airport, so long as you spend at least one night at the hotel.
Hotel chains located close to the airport, such as Holiday Inn, Radisson, Days Inn and Best Western, all offer this service. Radisson JFK and Holiday Inn Jamaica Queens offer the widest range of facilities with restaurants, a fitness center and business center at their hotels. Other major chains offer a conventional express hotel service with simple, comfortable rooms and self-service breakfast included in an overnight stay.
Partly thanks to it being such a key point of arrival in the USA and partly because this is New York City, JFK has attracted an impressive range of brands to match most high-end shopping malls: Bvlgari, Cartier, Clinique, Coach, Hermes, L'Occitane, Michael Kors, Mont Blanc, Salvatore Ferragamo, Hugo Boss and Thomas Pink all have stores at JFK, alongside many more fashion, accessories and cosmetics brands. Terminal 1 is by far the best for retail shopping, but Terminals 4 and 5 also offer a good selection.
Just as it attracts great shopping, there's also some sublime food to be had at JFK. Terminal 5 has a particularly strong selection, but there are great options throughout the airport. Deep Blue Sushi in T5 has a determined base of fans who will gladly arrive at the airport early to enjoy some of the excellent food, some of which is also available to take away.
Also in T5, Aeronuova offers fine Italian cuisine and Brasserie La Vie brings wonderful French country cooking to passengers. Shake Shack in T4 serves up famously classy burgers and the Vino Volo Wine Room has a superb wine list for tasting, with charcuterie and cheese plates on the side. The T1 food court is an alternative option with slightly more typical airport food, but a great view of the airplanes coming and going and plenty of charging stations available.
Despite the impressive range of shops and restaurants at JFK, many travelers report finding the rest of the experience somewhat uncomfortable and stressful. To counter this, there are massages and spas available, but if you really want to get away from the crowds, the best option is to enjoy one of the airport lounges.
Many airline clubs and lounges are reserved for business or first-class customers, but some offer a day pass, which means anybody can, for a small fee, gain access to a comfortable and quiet lounge with complimentary snacks and drinks, WiFi, charging points and, in some cases, showers and work stations. The JetBlue lounge in T5 is one of the stand-outs; it’s open-air, open to everyone and even includes an area to take your dog for a walk.
It’s rarely mentioned in official airport guides, but there is some high-quality art to take in around the terminals at JFK. A great starting point is Terminal 4, which was renovated a few years ago and has more than 70 sculptures and paintings exhibited, including numerous site-specific specially commissioned pieces.
JetBlue's Terminal 5 hosts the occasional live music performance alongside various other events and installations staged at The Marketplace area of the terminal. The “Live at T5” program is a particular stand-out series with performances from some huge international stars including Taylor Swift, Jason Derulo, James Blunt and Robyn. Inquire at the information desks to find out if there are any performances planned when you're passing through; they're an amazing opportunity to see such huge stars very close up.
The vast park at the heart of Manhattan is where crowds flock when the sun's out, whether they're tourists or residents. It’s tranquil in places and alive in others with the traffic of people on foot, bikes, roller-blades and skateboards, but the park as a whole is filled with lush greenery against the backdrop of the iconic skyline and Midtown apartment buildings.
Hire a bike and explore, sit by one of the lakes, walk through the woods, sit in the sun; everything you could want from an urban park is here on an incredible scale. About 17 miles (27 kilometers) from JFK Airport, it takes around 30-45 minutes to reach Central Park via the Grand Central Parkway.
Earning incredible praise from most visitors, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum offers moving and poignant exhibitions, films and first-hand accounts of the events of 9/11 that are all beautifully presented in an atmosphere of peace next to the memorial fountains and gardens.
Every part of the memorial and museum has been meticulously designed, even down to the arrangement of the names of those who died, which line bronze plates around the fountains. A detailed algorithm was calculated to ensure that people who knew each other, worked together and saw their last moments together were placed alongside each other on the plates.
It’s about 21 miles (34 kilometers) from JFK Airport. Travel times are heavily dependent on traffic and mode of transport; on a good day, it can be a 40-minute drive, but when traffic is heavy, it can often take well over an hour.
The kind of trip that plenty of New Yorkers will take on a spare day when the weather is fine, the Staten Island Ferry runs the five miles (eight kilometers) from Manhattan (at South Ferry by Battery Park) to Staten Island 24/7. It's completely free of charge, takes about 30 minutes each way and provides perfect photo opportunities of the famous southern Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty.
Rather than trying to drive through Manhattan, the quickest route to get to the ferry from JFK is often to go the 24 miles (39 kilometers) to the Staten Island terminal, which takes around 45-60 minutes. You’ll need to allow a couple of hours for the ferry trip to Manhattan and back – the views are more than worth it.
One of New York’s busiest intersections, Times Square features everything from world-famous theater to fascinating waxwork museums, iconic lights and advertising to bizarre street performers, all admired by lively crowds day and night. It’s a place you're unlikely to forget and it's only 19 miles (31 kilometers) from John F Kennedy Airport.
Go to enjoy the energy or get in the queue at the TKTS booth, which offers last-minute discounted tickets for the biggest Broadway shows playing that evening - but watch out for the individual ticket touts on street. It's a huge slice of the New York that you'll have seen in a hundred movies and TV shows, so it’s a remarkable experience to see it for yourself.
More than just a train station, Grand Central is a piece of architectural and engineering grandeur with a spectacular interior. The buzzing station offers a good range of food on the lower ground floor, which features more striking décor.
With 44 platforms (more than any other train station in the world), there's a seemingly never-ending stream of great architecture to explore and discover around this vast building. Taking the bus is a straightforward route from JFK; you can catch the JFK Airport Shuttle towards Penn Station and it takes about 45 minutes to reach Grand Central on E 42nd Street.
Just nine miles (14 kilometers) from JFK International Airport, Citi Field is a ballpark on the other side of Queens in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Home to Major League Baseball (MLB) team, the New York Mets, Citi Field replaced Shea Stadium in 2009 and is popular for its wide-open concourses and friendly New York atmosphere.
The ballpark includes a family entertainment area, plenty of food including a specific “Taste of the City” food court full of diverse New York food and some exceptional restaurant dining and exclusive clubs for high-end ticket holders. A Mets Hall of Fame and Museum is also on-site and music concerts, soccer matches and other sporting events are occasionally held at Citi Field.
Nicknamed the Showplace of the Nation, Radio City Music Hall is a legendary entertainment venue based in the center of Manhattan about 17 miles (27 kilometers) from John F Kennedy International Airport. Built in distinctive Art Deco style with a matching (and stunning) interior, the music hall is as much an iconic landmark as an operating venue, so it’s worth visiting just for the tour to learn about its remarkable history.
It still puts on a program of world-class entertainment from pop and rock music concerts to classical and country by some world-renowned modern composers - it’s a beautiful space in which to see a performance.
Dedicated to the works of artist, sculptor and architect, Isamu Noguchi, the Noguchi Museum is based in Queens about 16 miles (25 kilometers) from JFK International Airport. The museum was designed and created by the artist himself in an old printworks and developed into 12 galleries and a sculpture garden.
Beyond the permanent collection of Noguchi's sculpture, architecture, drawings and designs, the museum also stages special exhibits and acclaimed community outreach and children's art programs. The art itself is modern and minimal, displayed in a similarly minimal space with a tranquil outdoor area inspired by Japanese gardens.
With over 70 airlines spread across six terminals, JFK can be intimidating to navigate for first-time passengers, but most carriers operate out of just one terminal so it’s more straightforward than it seems.
Major carriers include American (T8) and Delta (T2 and T4), both of which operate hubs at the airport. JetBlue utilizes JFK as its primary operating base and takes up almost all of T5 in the process. British Airways in T7 and Virgin and Emirates in T4 also carry over a million passengers through JFK every year.
If you do get lost, look out for the information desks and welcome centers in every terminal, where knowledgeable customer services representatives can answer questions and point you in the right direction.
|ANA (All Nippon)||T7|
|Delta||T2 / T4|
|Fly Jamaica Airways||T1|
|KLM Royal Dutch||T4|
|Qatar Airways||T7 / T8|
|Royal Air Maroc||T1|
|Saudi Arabian Airlines||T1|
|South African Airways||T4|
|Thomas Cook Airlines||T4|
John F Kennedy International is based in the 11430 ZIP code area on the edge of Queens, about 12 miles (20 kilometers) from Manhattan. Whilst it primarily serves the city of New York, people travel to JFK from many surrounding cities including Philadelphia, Washington DC, Baltimore and Boston.
By road, the Van Wyck Expressway (I-678) runs directly past the airport and is an ideal route in from areas north of Manhattan like The Bronx. The I-278 runs from the Lower Manhattan area and uptown areas like Harlem to join the I-678 in Queens.
From Midtown, the I-495 from the Queens Tunnel also meets up with the I-678 and is the best route to JFK from Times Square.
Traveling from beyond Manhattan, the I-95 is ideal from any major city along the East Coast, whilst the I-78, I-80 and I-87 connect from the north and west.
Multiple public transport options combine to provide routes to the airport from all over the New York area and its neighboring states. Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) buses run from destinations through most of Queens and Brooklyn and also connect to the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), the Amtrak rail network and the city subway service.
Airport-to-airport shuttle bus services and connections are also available to support passengers coming into JFK from a connection at LaGuardia. The AirTrain is the most convenient option for transfers from Newark Airport.
The AirTrain network connects JFK Airport directly with the MTA subway system to provide a direct, reliable and affordable way to get to the airport from the city center, including via the LIRR and Amtrak networks.
The AirTrain stops at various locations around the airport, including the terminals and primary parking garages, to ensure the most convenient service possible and one of the best all-round travel options for getting to the airport from central Manhattan.
With New York traffic, New York weather, busy security lines, a maze of different terminals and thousands of staff and passengers, using JFK can be a slow experience. Whilst plenty of travelers report fast movement and good service at quieter times and in certain terminals, it is mostly busy and poor service, slow progress and missed flights are not uncommon. For these reasons, allow around three hours to get through the airport to your gate on time.
The free service is perfect for getting around the airport and out onto the local public transport networks, with one train running from Jamaica Station and another running from Howard Beach Station. Both routes call at all the terminal buildings, the parking garages and the rental car center, whilst the Howard Beach train also adds a stop at the nearby economy parking lot. The complimentary trains run every 10 minutes around the clock and take just a couple of minutes to get between each stop.
JFK is a busy airport (as are all those in the New York area), so flight delays and cancelations are sometimes unavoidable. Regular travelers through JFK swear by the TSA Pre-check service for dealing with the busy times as quickly as possible. As a general pattern, late morning and midday tend to be the quieter times at the airport, so try to arrive then if possible.
With minimal seating and heating in many of the terminals, you may find yourself having to wait for a while sitting on a cold floor. If you’ve got room in your hand luggage, pack a light jumper and travel pillow to keep comfortable at JFK.
JFK is quite light on interesting and affordable attractions for passengers with longer waits and the WiFi is only free for 30 minutes, so be sure to pack something to keep you entertained whilst you count down the time until your flight.
The range of places to eat at night at JFK is better than in most airports, with food courts in Terminals 1 and 4 providing many options during the hours of darkness. If you need to stay overnight, you can stay in JFK, but most people recommend booking a room in one of the local hotels that offer parking and shuttle services to and from the terminals.
Free WiFi is available at numerous locations around JFK Airport; most of the airport lounges, JetBlue’s Terminal 5, food courts, boarding gates and ticket counters offer it, but it is only free for the first 30 minutes.
JFK International is open 24 hours a day throughout the year, but there isn't a great deal going on overnight. The food courts in Terminals 1 and 4 stay open and other concessions, such as coffee shops, are sometimes open late or overnight. If you plan to sleep at the airport, the terminal buildings can be chilly and still quite noisy with music playing throughout the night, so come prepared with extra layers and ear plugs if possible.
JFK is about 12 miles (20 kilometers) from Manhattan, which is a 30-40-minute journey by road if the traffic is good, but that is a rarity in Manhattan.
Work began on the airport when it was known as Idlewild in 1943, but it didn't open until 1948, by which time it was named New York International Airport. It was renamed John F Kennedy International Airport in December 1963 a month after the 35th President of the United States was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
LaGuardia Airport is about 12 miles (20 kilometers) from JFK Airport in an almost straight route across Queens via the I-678 and Grand Central Parkway. It takes 20-30 minutes by road, whether you drive yourself or take a connecting bus service, a taxi or a private-hire shared shuttle.
Yes, you can find it in Terminal 5 and, as with most USOs, it is free to use for acting servicemen and women and their families.
No, although there are many nearby hotels, most of which offer complimentary shuttle buses to and from the airport terminals. Comfort Inn, Radisson and Holiday Inn all have hotels close to the airport entrances.
No, not inside the terminal buildings; once inside and through security, smoking is not permitted. There are, however, designated smoking areas pre-security outside the terminal buildings, all of which are signposted.
Yes, there are 15 currency exchange concessions operated by Travelex, with multiple booths and units found in every terminal at JFK, so you can easily exchange your money at the airport or book in advance online so you can pick it up at the airport.
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