New York is the largest city in the United States and home to three major airports, including John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). The city that never sleeps is an important financial hub and a hugely popular tourist destination, so it’s no surprise that it’s a hub for all three major U.S. legacy carriers.
Qantas also flies to New York daily, with one-stop flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane available to JFK via Los Angeles. (Note that U.S. immigration and customs formalities are completed during the transit in Los Angeles, so you’ll arrive in New York as a domestic passenger when flying from Australia.)
There is plenty of information on the internet about things to do while on holiday in New York. This AFF stopover guide focuses on making the most of a New York stopover – be it for a few hours or a few days!
New York Airport Airports
The main New York area airports are:
- John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) – the main international airport located in Queens. It’s a hub for American Airlines & Delta. Qantas flies to JFK airport, which is the focus of this New York stopover guide.
- Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) – a large international airport located in Newark, New Jersey and a Star Alliance hub for United Airlines.
- LaGuardia Airport (LGA) – a smaller airport in Queens which is closer to Manhattan than JFK, but has inferior transport connections. This airport does not have immigration facilities, so is used exclusively for domestic flights and services to/from Canada (as U.S. immigration formalities are completed in Canada).
The IATA code “NYC” covers all three New York area airports (just like the “LON” code for London area airports).
There are various other smaller airports in the New York vicinity, such as MacArthur Airport in Long Island (ISP – used mainly by Southwest and Frontier), Stewart International Airport (SWF – used mainly by Allegiant) and White Plains Westchester Airport (HPN – used by American Eagle and JetBlue). Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) is also within a 2-hour drive from New York, or 2.5 hours on the train.
How to get from JFK Airport to Manhattan
There are of course plenty of yellow taxis available in New York, but the cheapest way to get from JFK airport to the city is by train. During rush hours, this may also be quicker than sitting in New York traffic. You can take the AirTrain from any of the 8 terminals at JFK airport to either Howard Beach or Jamaica subway stations, and then catch the subway from there.
The only catch is that the AirTrain is not part of the New York subway system, so you’ll need a separate ticket for that part of the journey.
When flying into JFK and staying in Manhattan i always take the air train plus subway, in peak times it is the quickest way, and also least expensive when travelling solo. Ive done it several times with my checked case, wheeled carry-on and a small back pack. Airtrain to Howards Beach (or Jamaica depending on what part of city im staying in) , then subway, ensuring if i need to change lines i do so at a station where connection is other side of same platform this is usually J St Metro for me.
The Airport stations all have lifts and escalators, the platforms are level and subway trains mostly empty when boarding at Howards Beach or Jamaica. The stations in the city however do not all have lifts or escaltors and if they do maybe not at every exit.
New York Greeters
If you only have a short time in New York during your stopover, and want to learn about the city from a local’s perspective, drron recommends the Big Apple Greeter service. This service connects you with a local volunteer that shares similar interests or is familiar with a neighbourhood you’d like to explore.
It’s a completely free service and the greeters do not accept tips, although our members suggest bringing a packet of Tim Tams or a koala bear to show your appreciation!
Where to stay near JFK Airport
There are several dozen hotels within a short drive from JFK Airport, and many of these provide an airport shuttle service. But if you want to stay right at the airport – or you’re an aviation enthusiast – you can’t go past the TWA Hotel at Terminal 5! Princess Fiona stayed there last year and prepared a trip report about the TWA Hotel experience.
Even if you’re not staying overnight, you can pay for access to the TWA Hotel’s outdoor swimming pool overlooking the airport. Or, visit the cocktail lounge inside an old Connie aircraft during your New York stopover!
New York JFK Airport Lounges
There are over 30 airline and third-party lounges across the 8 terminals of JFK airport! This includes 6 Priority Pass lounges that you can access if you have a Priority Pass membership or a credit card that offers Priority Pass lounge access. However, there are no Priority Pass lounges in Terminal 8 – only a restaurant partner.
Qantas and American Airlines use Terminal 8 at JFK airport. If you’re flying from Terminal 8 and you’re in international Business class, or have Qantas Gold/Oneworld Sapphire status or higher, you’ll have access to the American Airlines Admirals Clubs and Flagship Lounge.
Note that American Airlines AAdvantage members don’t automatically receive lounge access when flying on domestic U.S. itineraries – even in First class. However, Qantas Club members flying with Qantas or American Airlines are entitled to use American Airlines Admirals Club lounges.
British Airways uses Terminal 7, where it operates its own Club Lounge and First Lounge, as well as the exclusive Concorde Room. The British Airways lounges are quite good in the evening – when the bulk of flights to Europe depart. But according to a recent MileLion review, even the BA First Lounge can be rather dire at other times!
If you’re flying Delta and you have Virgin Australia Velocity Gold or Platinum status – or you’re connecting on the same day to an international Business class flight on Delta or Virgin Australia – you can use the Delta Sky Club.
Do you have a great New York stopover tip to share? Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: New York (JFK) Stopover Tips