Built over the swampy marshlands of Idlewild Golf Course in southeastern Queens, construction of Idlewild Airport began in 1942, according to a 400-hectare plan. However, by completion the airport had far exceeded this scope. Named New York International Airport in 1948, the year of the airport’s first commercial flight, the airfield was still commonly known as Idlewild Airport until it was renamed John F. Kennedy International Airport in memory of the 35th US president in 1963. Today, JFK occupies 1,995 hectares and operates six terminals, where a mix of fast food fare, lounges, services and some of the world’s best-known retailers will keep you occupied in-transit.
JFK Quick Facts
Distance from CBD: 24 kilometres
Number of airlines: 90+ airlines operate out of JFK
Number of destinations served: All six inhabited continents
Number of terminals: Six
Number of runways: Four (two pairs of parallel runways)
The check-in areas are located at the arrivals level of each terminal, which is also the ground floor of Terminals 1, 2, 4, 5, 7 and 8. It is recommended that passengers arrive at check-in three hours before an international flight and 75 minutes prior to departure for flights within the United States. Ensure you have your plane tickets, passport and baggage ready for handling on arrival at JFK.
If you need to store your luggage at the airport for a few hours or days, JFK offers baggage storage facilities before you go through security at the arrivals level of each airline terminal except Terminals 7 and 8. The baggage storage service opening hours are between 07:00 and 23:00 and storage fees apply. Any lost property with an airline tag found within a terminal is returned to the respective airline. Other lost and found items are located in at the JFK Police Desk in Building 269, which is open 24 hours a day.
Currency exchange services are available pre-security at Terminals 4, 5 and 8, and after you have cleared security at Terminals 1, 2 and 7. For easy access to your money in US Dollars, consider purchasing a Cash Passport travel money card, which can hold multiple foreign currencies, before you fly from Travel Money Oz.
Internet Access/ Wi-Fi
Most public areas at JFK Airport offers Wi-Fi connectivity within each terminal. You can connect near ticket counters, at boarding gates, at designated work stations and within the food courts. There is an hourly rate or you can pay a flat fee for unlimited access within a 24-hour period. JFK is also trialling limited free Wi-Fi for an initial 30-minute period in late 2014 within the terminals. Free Wi-Fi is also available at Terminal 5. Take advantage of the power poles and charging stations throughout the airport to charge your portable electronic devices for free.
If you are travelling through JFK Airport on business, there are a few services available to ensure you make your meeting or flight on time. With valet parking, the free AirTrain JFK elevated rail, free Wi-Fi access in Terminal 5, and 19 dedicated airline lounges at most terminals, those travelling for work will be able to stay connected on the go. If you do not belong to an airline club, the Airspace Lounge at Terminal 5 near Gate 24 is accessible to all on a pay-per-use model and offers complimentary Wi-Fi, printing and scanning and a semi-private conference room that seats up to six people. Business travellers can also subscribe to receive alerts and advisories for flights and airport information by phone or email.
Travelling with children? JFK has limited entertainment options for little ones. Terminal 5 (T5) has a children’s area for toddlers to run around and stretch their legs before boarding the flight, or the AirTrain JFK is free to ride between terminals for a bird’s eye view of the airport. If you have a smartphone, tablet or laptop you can also take advantage of the free Wi-Fi at T5 or connect for a fee in the public areas of other terminals. JFK has baby change facilities adjacent to the toilets before and after security in all terminals. If you need last-minute supplies such as formula, nappies and baby wipes, you can purchase these items from the pharmacy in Terminal 4. There are also several child-friendly shops and places to eat at JFK Airport.
While JFK does not offer a dedicated concierge service, travellers can utilise the Welcome Centers – state-of-the-art portals available in every terminal where you can access information about getting around JFK, transport options, hotels and places of interest in New York City. The airport’s Customer Care Representatives, who can be identified by their red jackets, can also answer any of your questions about JFK Airport and New York City.
If you need to freshen up while in transit, shower facilities are available in the Airspace Lounge at T5 after security near Gate 24 and included in the price of the entry fee.
Located at T5, the Airspace Lounge is open to all travellers for a fee and from 04:30 to 23:00, 365 days a year. Amenities onsite that are included in the entry price are unlimited cappuccinos, espressos, coffee and tea; soft drinks; a choice of snacks and fruit plus a credit towards the purchase of items from the Airspace Lounge premium menu. Transit passengers can also take advantage of the onsite computers within the lounge as well as free Wi-Fi and use of the showers and toilet facilities. Alcoholic beverages are available to purchase from the premium menu.
Several major airlines have dedicated lounges at JFK Airport, which are open to passengers travelling in business or first class or for members of that particular airline or airline alliance club. Single-use lounge access passes may also be purchased – check with your airline whether you can gain entry to these exclusive spaces to rest, refresh and recharge before your flight. These airlines are some of the carriers with lounges at JFK.
Delta Air Lines
With exclusive use of Terminal 2 and Terminal 4 as a major hub for the airline, Delta has two lounges – referred to as the Delta Sky Club. One lounge is located on the mezzanine level of Terminal 2, and the other Delta Sky Club is near Gate 31 within Terminal 4. Passengers are able to use Delta Air Lines lounges if they are travelling with the airline on a non-stop Delta First Class, BusinessElite, or on a full Y-Class ticket between select US cities; are a SkyTeam Elite Plus or Diamond Medallion Club member; or are a Delta Reserve credit cardholder travelling on a Delta flight. Passenger travelling with partner airlines such as Alaska Airlines and Virgin Australia Airlines may also be eligible to use Delta Sky Club facilities.
Delta Sky Club facilities at JFK Airport include the Luxury Bar option, which offers top-shelf spirits, wines and beers for purchase, as well as a fully stocked bar of complimentary house beer, wine and spirits. Other onsite amenities include fully equipped bathrooms with showers, complimentary Wi-Fi, a selection of sweet and savoury snacks, satellite TV, magazines and newspapers and office equipment. Opening hours for the Terminal 2 location are 05:00 to 20:45 daily, and the Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 operates from 05:00 to 24:00 from Saturday to Thursday and 05:00 to 00:15 on Fridays.
United Airlines has two lounges within Terminal 7 at JFK Airport: United Global First Lounge and United Club. Both airline lounges are situated one level above the ticket counter within the terminal. The United Global First Lounge grants access to eligible United Global First and Star Alliance First customers on long-haul international flights, while United Club allows United Club Members, United Global First, United First, United BusinessFirst and United Business passengers travelling on a international flight; as well as select Star Alliance Gold Members to use the lounge facilities.
Within the United Global First Lounge, guests can expect tailored services, complimentary hors d’oeuvres and top-shelf beverages. United Club amenities at JFK include a conference room; complimentary bar service, snacks and drinks; free Wi-Fi access, local phone calls, and business facilities; magazines and newspapers as well as the premium beverage menu with a wider selection of beers, wines and spirits for purchase. Both lounges operate from 05:00 to 20:30 daily.
Terminal 7 is operated by British Airways, and the airline’s two JFK Airport lounges are also found within this space. The British Airways First Lounge is located after departures security and caters to oneworld Emerald frequent flyer members and those travelling in First Class with British Airways. The British Airways Galleries Lounge can also be found after security, and passengers travelling with British Airways in First, Club World or Club Europe class; who hold Silver or Gold member status with the British Airways Executive Club; or are an Emerald or Sapphire member of any oneworld airline loyalty program can access this lounge.
Amenities available within British Airways lounges include a business centre; free Wi-Fi; complimentary light meals, snacks and beverages (including selected alcoholic drinks); TV and even pre-flight dining with waiter service in British Airways First Lounge for passengers on select flights. Both lounges are open from 05:00 to 22:00 daily.
Terminal 1 primarily handles the airplane movements of Air France, Japan Airlines, Korean Air and Lufthansa as well as 18 other international carriers. Terminal 1 is accessible by AirTrain JFK, which connects to the New York City Subway, the Airline Terminals Train, Long Island Rail Road, public and private buses, yellow cabs and the Van Wyck Expressway (I-678).
Delta Air Lines has the exclusive use of JFK’s Terminal 2 with First Class and Business Elite check-in facilities. Terminal 2 is located next to Terminal 1 with easy access to the Green Parking Lot as well as public transport options such as the AirTrain JFK, Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), public and private buses, taxis and the Van Wyck Expressway, if you’re driving.
Along with Terminal 1, Terminal 4 is equipped to handle the Airbus A380 aircraft and serves as a major hub for Delta Air Lines. Situated next to Terminal 2, Terminal 4 can be reached by the AirTrain JFK, LIRR, public and private buses, taxis and the Van Wyck Expressway, and is located across from the Blue Parking Lot.
JFK’s most recent terminal opened in 2008 as a hub for JetBlue Airways, and also welcomes flights from Hawaiian Airlines and Aer Lingus. A range of shops and eateries can be found at Terminal 5, including a 24-hour Dunkin’ Donuts outlet. An extension to accommodate international arrivals, dubbed T5i, is slated for completion in November 1014. NYC buses B15, Q3 and Q10 travel to Terminal 5, which is also serviced by AirTrain JFK, LIRR and yellow cabs.
Next to Terminal 5, Terminal 7 is operated by British Airways, and is the only terminal operated by a sole foreign carrier in the United States. Other oneworld alliance partner airlines also operate from this terminal including Qantas, United, Icelandair, Cathay Pacific and Air Canada. Terminal 7 is across from the Orange Parking Lot and is accessible by public and private transport options such as the subway, buses and taxis.
On the same side of the transportation loop at Terminal 7, Terminal 8 is one of the main oneworld hubs with American Airlines as the major carrier. Air Berlin, Finnair, LAN, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian Airlines, TAM Airlines and US Airways also use this space for arrivals and departures. You can reach Terminal 8 by AirTrain JFK, LIRR, taxi cabs and private and public buses with parking available at the Red Parking Lot.
Whether you are in a hurry or want to arrive in New York City in style, JFK offers a variety of public and private transport options or a combination of services that connect travellers to Manhattan and other NYC boroughs from the airport terminals.
The Fastest: AirTrain JFK and LIRR
The fastest way to travel to or from the airport is via AirTrain JFK and the Long Island Rail Road. Running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, AirTrain connects with MTA New York City Transit subways and buses as well as the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) to get you to major destinations within New York and New Jersey. The trip to Penn Station in Manhattan takes 35 minutes via the Long Island Rail Road. During peak times on weekdays, the AirTrain runs every seven to 12 minutes, and every 16 minutes on weekends.
The hree AirTrain JFK lines (All Terminals Train, Jamaica Station Line and Howard Beach Line) stop at each terminal, car rental lots and parking lots. The Jamaica Station Line connects to the LIRR at Jamaica Station where you can then take the NYC Transit E train to get to Midtown and Upper Manhattan, stopping at Penn Station, and Queens.
The Cheapest: AirTrain JFK and MTA Subways
For the cheapest way to get into New York from JFK Airport, opt for the AirTrain JFK and connect to the MTA Subways network. Operating all day, every day, the AirTrain JFK connects with MTA New York City Transit subway with services every seven to 12 minutes on weekdays and every 16 minutes on weekends, and stops at every terminal, parking lot and car rental lot.
Take the Jamaica Station Line AirTrain to Jamaica Station and connect to the MTA NYC Transit E Subway to get to Midtown Manhattan, alighting at Penn Station at West 34th Street – a 50-minute trip. For addresses in Upper Manhattan, you will need to transfer to another subway or bus from Penn Station. From Jamaica Station, take the MTA NYC Transit J or Z Subway to get to Southern Queens or Northern Brooklyn. The Howard Beach AirTrain Line is best for any destinations in Manhattan below West 14th Street, swapping to the MTA Transit A Subway at Howard Beach Station.
Buses, Taxis and Car Hire
Public buses and private coaches are another option for travelling to and from JFK. Three NYC MTA bus routes service the airport, providing transport to local neighbourhoods and connections to the subway. You can access these bus services from the roadway adjacent to Terminal 5 - a free AirTrain trip will get you to this terminal from other locations within the airport. The Q10 and Q3 buses will take you to Queens, while the B15 bus goes to East New York. If you have a MetroCard, you also get free transfers between buses and subways. The NYC Airporter express shuttle bus service travels between Grand Central Station, Penn Station and the Port Authority Bus Terminal as well as stopping at Times Square and select Midtown hotels.
A trip into Manhattan in an iconic NYC yellow cab is also an option. Taxis can be found at the taxi stand outside each terminal, and you can also book a shared-ride van or a private car at the Arrivals area in each terminal. Depending on the time of day and traffic conditions, a cab ride between JFK and Midtown Manhattan can take between 35 to 90 minutes, however the licensed yellow taxis offer a flat-rate fare of $52 between the airport and your first destination in Manhattan, excluding tips, surcharges and tolls. Car rental companies at JFK include Budget, Hertz, Avis and Thrifty.
Short Stay Parking
With 17,000 parking spaces within the JFK Airport terminal space, parking is a breeze. Each terminal has short stay parking lots available nearby, which are also easily accessible via the free AirTrain that stop at all parking lots, car rental lots and terminals. A reservation system allows you to pre-book online for an extra fee and take advantage of special offers.
The five short stay parking lots at JFK are priced according to duration and are not recommended for durations longer than 24 hours. Short stay parking rates are charged in half-hour increments up to a daily maximum for 24 hours and are inclusive of taxes. Electric vehicle charging is also available at the Yellow Parking Lot near Terminal 5.
Long Stay Parking
If you are spending a while in the Big Apple or wish to travel upstate or to neighbouring states on your holiday, long stay parking will ensure your vehicle is covered. JFK Airport has one Long-Term Parking Lot (Lot 9), which is situated at Lefferts Boulevard and around 6.5 kilometres away from Terminals 1 to 8. For further peace of mind, Long-Term Lot 9 is staffed all day, every day and is also accessible via AirTrain.
Long stay parking incurs a flat-rate fee for the first 24 hours and charges then increase for each eight-hour period after that.
JFK Airport offers valet parking from the Lefferts Boulevard AirTrain JFK Station. The service is available at all hours of the day and throughout the week. Customers simply drop off their vehicles for a nominal daily fee with a further incremental cost every 12-hour period, and then take the free AirTrain JFK service directly to their terminal.
Need to travel between terminals at JFK? With a schedule that runs 24 hours a day and seven days a week, getting around JFK by AirTrain is easy. The three AirTrain JFK lines stop at various points around the airport, including each airline terminal, for free. During peak times during the week, the AirTrain runs every seven to 12 minutes and every 10 to 20 minutes at other times. On weekends, the frequency of AirTrain services is every 16 minutes. The six terminals are positioned in a loop and connected by access roads, which allows passengers to walk between terminals.
JFK Airport is serviced by several international airlines. Please refer to the below list for more information on the airlines that fly to New York.
The following airlines reach New York. Don't see the airline you are looking for? Talk to a consultant to book your New York flights with your preferred airline.
Transiting through JFK before the next segment of your flight, in town for a brief business meeting or want to sleep off your late night arrival on a long-haul flight? As it stands, there are currently no onsite airport hotels, however there are a wide variety of hotels and motels located near JFK Airport, and many offer hotel courtesy shuttles, avoiding the need to wrangle your luggage onto public transport or battle with traffic on a costly cab ride into the city.
There are several hotels located near JFK Airport to choose from, including the 5-star Hilton New York JFK Airport for a luxurious stay after your flight, and the Hampton Inn NY-JFK hotel, also part of the Hilton chain. Other accommodation choices near the airport include well-known and budget hotel chains such as Marriott, Holiday Inn and Best Western. To get from JFK to a hotel shuttle transfer, take the AirTrain JFK from any terminal to Federal Circle Station. And to book your JFK Airport accommodation, search below or view more accommodation options.