So you've booked your flights and taken care of your hotels – just one piece of the puzzle remains: reaching Manhattan from JFK airport, used by Qantas, American Airlines, United, and Virgin Australia’s partners Delta and Virgin America on one-stop journeys from Australia.
The same applies if you’re arriving on Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, Emirates or Etihad, so whether your budget stretches to chauffeurs or was already pushed by the airfare, here are five easy ways to zip between JFK and your NYC hotel.
1. Uber Black
We’d peg Uber Black’s chauffeur-driven vehicles as the most popular option for busy business travellers between JFK and Manhattan, particularly with a flat rate fare that helps to keep your overall itinerary costs much more predictable.
You’ll pay an even US$100 in each direction plus toll costs of $5.33 if taking the Queens Midtown Tunnel, with no separate airport or credit card surcharges to worry about, no tipping required and a journey time of roughly one hour.
However, Uber Black vehicles can’t be pre-booked – you’ll need to have access to data roaming or a local mobile phone SIM to order up a car on demand via the Uber app, and you may need to call or SMS your driver with a more precise location than can be provided via the app.
You’re also at the mercy of Uber’s controversial surge pricing during peak periods of demand, although we didn’t find this to be an issue on our last trip to The Big Apple.
Want the convenience of a private driver at your fingertips but without the hefty price tag?
UberX is a similar concept to Uber Black and can be ordered via the same app, but rather than an executive-type vehicle you’ll get something more ‘everyday’ such as a Toyota Camry or Honda Accord, or if you’re lucky, a Lincoln Town Car.
Flat rates of $60+tolls apply whether heading to or from the airport, and although tipping isn’t officially required, if the driver provides free bottled water, snacks or lollies, they’ll certainly appreciate even a dollar or two for going above and beyond.
You can also use the Uber app to find another user heading in your general direction to share a car and slash the fare to an impressive $36 each:
If you’re not yet on the Uber bandwagon, head to Uber.com, register for free with the special Australian Business Traveller invitation code of uberAusBT and get $10 in credit towards your first ride.
(Disclaimer: we'll also pick up $10 of Uber credit when you take that ride, so it's a win-win.)
3. A genuine New York City yellow taxi
Widely recognised as an international New York icon and practically abundant whenever an umbrella isn’t needed, catching a taxi from the airport is an equally easy option and is a must-do for many first-time visitors.
NYC cabs also have a flat fare structure between JFK and Manhattan: $52 plus tolls, a 50c ‘MTA state surcharge’ and a 30c ‘improvement surcharge’, and passengers can pay by credit card without an exorbitant 10% fee whacked on top.
Crunching the numbers with a 15% obligatory tip on the fare (although not the add-ons) and a trip via the Queens Midtown Tunnel, you’re looking at $65.93, or a more realistic and even $66.
Comparing that to a $65.33 UberX ride, we’d suggest catching a cab when Uber’s surge pricing is in effect and ordering an UberX when the line at the taxi rank is frustratingly long or a cab is hard to flag down in the city.
4. JFK’s AirTrain + MTA Subway
If you’re counting every penny or travelling during rush hour when traffic jams are commonplace, jump on the JFK AirTrain for a faster and considerably cheaper journey.
Just $7.50 will get you from the airport to your hotel’s closest subway station – $5 for the AirTrain itself and $2.50 for the onward subway connection to anywhere in the city.
Commuters bound for Midtown Manhattan will reach their destination in roughly 50 minutes by connecting at Jamaica Station between the AirTrain and the E subway train, which travels via 34th Street/Penn Station at Madison Square Garden.
For Lower Manhattan, take the AirTrain to Howard Beach Station and jump on the A train, reaching the Financial District in roughly one hour.
Top tip: If you don't already have a MetroCard – New York’s stored value public transport card – there’s an extra $1 fee to buy the ticket, but you can then top-up and reuse that same MetroCard on future airport trips or when travelling throughout the city.
5. The NYC Airporter shuttle bus
Not comfortable tackling the subway system after a 24-hour flight? The NYC Airporter fills the middle ground with cheaper fares than a taxi or UberX and with more comfort than a train at just $16 one-way or $30 return, if booked online.
As an added bonus, there’s free on-board Wi-Fi, power outlets and reclining leather seats, with stops at Grand Central Station, Penn Station, the Port Authority Bus Terminal and Bryant Park – plus a free onward shuttle to hotels between 23rd and 63rd streets.
The downside? With several stops along the way and a shuttle transfer at the end, It takes up to 90 minutes to reach your hotel, and with services only running every 20-30 minutes between 5am and 11:30pm, that could easily push to two hours if you just miss the previous departure.
The cost for two passengers travelling together is on-par with what you’d pay for a taxi or an UberX ride, so unless you’re on your own, fork out the extra dollar or two for a car and reach your hotel an impressive 30-60 minutes earlier than you would on the shuttle bus.
Heading to New York City on business? Also read:
- Five tips for riding the New York subway like a local
- The best shows to see on Broadway in New York City
- Delta Boeing 767 BusinessElite business class review: LAX-JFK
- Snap up half-price tickets to Broadway shows in New York at TKTS
- Hilton New York Fashion District, Chelsea review
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