New York City has three major airports — here's what you need to know before booking your next flight.

By Cailey Rizzo
Updated June 23, 2021
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Planning a trip to New York City? Before you book your flights, you'll want to do a little research on the three major NYC area airports - LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark. The best airport for your next trip will depend on your airline of choice, where you're flying from, and where you're staying in the city.

The airspace above New York is among the busiest in the world. However, on the ground, the city's airport links are notoriously difficult for out-of-towners to conquer. There isn't a simple train shuttle that will whisk you downtown, and the city's three main airports are all flung in opposite directions from central Manhattan. That means, cab or rideshare fares can add up quickly, and you'll need to leave early if traveling at peak times to avoid traffic delays.

Whether you're flying into JFK, Newark, or LaGuardia, here's what you need to know about these three NYC area airports.

Right now, all three airports are offering on-site COVID-19 testing, making it convenient for travelers to get tested. Of course, if you're traveling somewhere that requires proof of a negative COVID-19 test, you'll need to schedule that within the required time window before your flight.

Newark Liberty International Airport

Aerial of Newark Airport
Credit: Howard Kingsnorth/Getty Images

More than 30 airlines fly to and from Newark (EWR), including over a dozen international carriers. United claims the airport as one of its major hubs, and the airline operates all flights in and out of Newark's Terminal C.

Newark is fairly easy to access if you're staying on the west side of Manhattan, but this option will be pricey or time-consuming if you're traveling to and from Queens or Brooklyn.

And let's just say that Newark isn't exactly known as a culinary destination, except for the Global Bazaar in Terminal C. The much-needed food hall opened in 2018 with an Italian deli, sushi, ramen, and more reflecting the many international destinations it services flights to.

How to Get There: New Jersey Transit offers a fairly easy option for travelers to get between Midtown Manhattan and Newark Airport. From Penn Station, jump on either the Northeast Corridor or North Jersey Coast lines. It will take about 30 minutes and cost $15.25 for this trip. Find up-to-date details about hours of operation and train frequency on the New Jersey Transit website.

The Newark Airport Express shuttle service runs from Midtown Manhattan to all terminals at Newark. It costs $30 for a round-trip fare or $17 for a one-way ticket. With minimal traffic, the journey takes about 45 minutes.

Taxi Cost: A taxi is likely to cost anywhere from $50 to $70 if you're riding to Manhattan. (Tack on more if you're going to another borough.) You can research Uber or Lyft costs before you fly, but the rates are subject to change due to surge pricing.

LaGuardia Airport

The interior of LaGuardia Airport's new Terminal B on June 10, 2020 in New York City.
Credit: Scott Heins/Getty Images

LaGuardia (LGA) is a popular option for domestic travelers. American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, United, Southwest, and other airlines all operate flights from the airport.

After years of being criticized for its subpar facilities, the airport is undergoing renovations. LaGuardia's Terminal B has nearly finished an impressive remodel, and updates are in progress for Terminal C, which will be the home base for all Delta flights.

For those staying in northern Brooklyn (Williamsburg or Greenpoint) or in Upper and Midtown Manhattan, LaGuardia is the closest option. You'll be able to take a cab the eight or so miles to the airport in less than 30 minutes, depending on traffic and your location.

How to Get There: LaGuardia is one of the most difficult airports to access if you're using public transit, mainly because you will need to take a bus. The two most popular routes are the Q70-SBS LaGuardia Link and M60-SBS. If you're riding the Q70, you'll pick it up at a stop in Queens, accessible by the 7, E, F, M and R trains. The M60-SBS makes stops in uptown Manhattan and Queens. A bus trip will cost $2.75. We recommend loading an MTA MetroCard before attempting to catch the bus. A proposed elevated train connecting LGA to the NYC subway and Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) is in the works, but it is currently awaiting approval.

Taxi Cost: If you're headed to Manhattan from the airport, Port Authority predicts that you will spend anywhere between $30 and $45 to reach your destination (plus tip and tolls). However, as with most New York City journeys, traffic is the deciding factor in cost, and if you're traveling at rush hour, the meter will soar well above that price bracket. Similarly, Uber and Lyft pricing will increase during peak times.

John F. Kennedy International Airport

Passengers, some wearing masks and protective gear, queue for their flight at Terminal 1 of John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) amid the novel coronavirus pandemic on May 13, 2020
Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images

More than 70 airlines, including many international carriers, fly to and from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK).

If your stay is based in lower Brooklyn (anywhere lower than Williamsburg) or eastern Queens, JFK will be your closest airport. New York's most famous gateway is a preferred choice for many because of its lounges, shops, and dining options.

JFK is also the home base for JetBlue. The airline has taken over Terminal 5 (or T5 as they call it) and decked it out in blue. The airport is currently in the midst of a $13 billion renovation, which will add two new international terminals by 2025.

How to Get There: JFK is one of the easiest options for those traveling to the airport via public transit. There are two options for navigating your way into the city.

The fastest is boarding the AirTrain (the airport's terminal-to-terminal shuttle - $7.75 and payable by MetroCard) and connecting to the LIRR at Jamaica Station. Service runs to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn or Penn Station in Manhattan, starting at $7.75.

The cheapest option is the AirTrain ($7.75) to the subway (only $2.75). At Jamaica, you'll be able to board the E, J, and Z trains. Take the AirTrain to the Howard Beach stop to board the A train. Preload a MetroCard to ensure easy access. It takes about one hour and 15 minutes to reach downtown Manhattan via this route.

There are also various shuttle and car services offering transport to and from JFK.

Taxi Cost: JFK is the only NYC airport that offers a flat-rate trip from anywhere in Manhattan. Passengers will pay $52 per ride (or $56.50 during peak hours), not including tolls or tips.