How to use the AirTrain JFK

What you should to know before boarding the JFK AirTrain

Image of author Maureen
Maureen
6. March 2020
841 ratings

If you are thinking of taking public transportation to or from JFK airport, you will probably need to use the AirTrain. Because we receive a lot of questions about the JFK AirTrain, I have summarized all you need to know.

Contents

What is the JFK AirTrain?

The AirTrain is a people mover system that moves passengers not only around JFK Airport but also connects them to the public transportation system. The driverless system runs frequently and makes several stops at terminals, parking lots, and car rental facilities. Just like the NYC airports themselves, the JFK AirTrain is operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

JFK AirTrain Map & Lines

The JFK AirTrain operates three lines: red, green, and yellow.

view AIRTRAIN MAP

Red AirTrain

The red AirTrain not only connects all passenger terminals, but it also gives you access to the public transportation network. It stops at every terminal, followed by the Federal Circle where you can access rental car facilities and hotel shuttles. The next and final stop of the red AirTrain is Jamaica after which the AirTrain returns to the JFK terminals, starting with Terminal 1.

Red JFK AirTrain Stops:

  • Terminals 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8
  • Federal Circle (rental cars and hotel shuttles)
  • Jamaica Station

At Jamaica Station, you’ll be connected to “Sutphin Blvd – Archer Av – JFK Station” where you can board the MTA subway line E that will lead you through Queens and Midtown Manhattan down to the World Trade Center. Therefore, the red AirTrain to Jamaica is great if your destination is in Midtown or Uptown Manhattan. A subway ride costs $3 when purchasing a single ride, $2.75 with a pay-per-ride MetroCard, and nothing with an Unlimited MetroCard.

NYC Subway Map

At “Sutphin Blvd – Archer Av – JFK Station”, you will be in walking distances to bus lines Q8, Q41, Q25, Q34, Q65, Q20A, Q20B, and Q6.

An even faster way to get from JFK to Midtown Manhattan by public transportation is the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR). In Jamaica, instead of getting on the subway, you can take the LIRR to Penn Station. Within 20 minutes you will arrive at Penn Station. While taking the LIRR is way faster than the subway, it is also more expensive, costing $7.75 per ride off-peak and $10.75 during peak hours. The same applies to the other way around when taking the LIRR to JFK.

LIRR Map

Green AirTrain

The green AirTrain also connects you to all passenger terminals and the public transportation network. While the red line stops at Federal Circle before arriving at Jamaica the green line makes one more stop at Lefferts Boulevard. There, you can access long term parking. The last stop then is Howard Beach.

Green JFK AirTrain Stops:

  • Terminals 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8
  • Federal Circle (rental cars and hotel shuttles)
  • Lefferts Boulevard (long-term parking)
  • Howard Beach Station

At Howard Beach, you can take the southbound subway lines A and C, connecting you to Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan, before continuing to Uptown Manhattan. If your destination is in Midtown or Uptown Manhattan, it’ll be faster to take the red AirTrain to Jamaica. Again; a single subway ride costs $3, a ride with a Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard $2.75, and a ride with an Unlimited MetroCard is free.

NYC Subway Map

Yellow AirTrain

The yellow line only circles between the passenger terminals. It does not grant you access to public transportation. Interestingly, the yellow AirTrain operates in reverse order (from Terminal 8 to Terminal 1). To leave the airport, you will need to take the red or green lines to either Jamaica or Howard Beach.

Yellow JFK AirTrain Stops:

  • Terminals 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8

The yellow line can make sense, even when traveling to and from the airport!

Have you ever been in a rush to catch a flight? Your answer is probably yes! Should you find yourself in that situation and you are trying to get to Terminal 8 or 7, here is my travel hack: Instead of passing Terminals 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, and then 8, you can change into the yellow AirTrain at Terminal 1. Because the yellow line operates in reverse order, the next stop will be 8, meaning you will only be one station away as opposed to give. The same applies to Terminal 7 and, of course, when traveling from the airport.


AirTrain JFK Cost

Using the JFK AirTrain is free within the airport, meaning that you can transfer between the terminals without having to pay. Simply board the AirTrain and head to your terminal of choice. You can ride on the AirTrain how often as you have to.

Most likely, however, your journey will start or end at Howard Beach or Jamaica. If you want to get out of the airport by using public transportation, there is no other option. In that case, there is a fee for the AirTrain. The current fare is $7.75. Children under the age of 5 years ride for free!

How and when to pay for the AirTrain

You pay the JFK AirTrain fare upon entering or exiting the system at either Howard Beach Station or Jamaica Station. That means you pay before boarding the AirTrain when traveling to the airport and after exiting the AirTrain when traveling from the airport.

  • When you travel from JFK, you do not need to worry about a ticket when boarding the AirTrain. You can board it for free and will pay the fare when exiting the system at Howard Beach or Jamaica.
  • When you travel to JFK, you will take care of the fare at either Howard Beach or Jamaica Station, before boarding the Air Train. You cannot enter the system without paying the fare.

The AirTrain accepts:

  • Pay-Per-Ride MetroCards
  • JFK Air Train 30-Day MetroCard (costs $40)
  • JFK AirTrain 10-Trip MetroCard (costs $25)

The JFK AirTrain fare is payable only by MetroCard. If you already own a MetroCard, you can use it to pay your fare. Keep in mind, however, that unlimited MetroCard (e.g. 7-day or 30-day) cannot be used to pay the fare. You would need to add additional money to your card to cover the cost of the AirTrain. A Pay-Per-Ride card can be used without a problem.

If you do no have a MetroCard yet, don’t worry. Both stations, Howard Beach and Jamaica, are equipped with MTA machines. For each new MetroCard, there is a fee of $1.

Our MetroCard Guide

Save money, buy a 10-trip card!

A 10-trip JFK AirTrain ticket costs $25, making the card worth it even when just using 4 journeys. (4 x $7.75 = $31). If you are traveling with a party of two or more, you can save by using the 10-trip card for $25. Sharing the card between 5 people (one roundtrip each) means you pay only $2.5 per ride. It is valid for 31 days after its first use.


JFK AirTrain Schedule

You can always count on the JFK AirTrain! It operates 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, guaranteeing you access to public transportation whenever you need it. It runs regularly every few minutes.


FAQ

Is the JFK AirTrain free?
Using the AirTrain within JFK Airport is completely free. You can get from one terminal to another without having to pay. Only when entering or exiting the AirTrain system at Howard Beach Station or Jamaica Station, there will be a fee of $7.75 which you can pay by MetroCard.

Where does the AirTrain go from JFK?
From JFK, the AirTrain passes all passenger terminals and goes to Howard Beach Station or Jamaica Station where you have access to public transportation, such as subway, bus, and the Long Island Rail Road.

Hoch much is AirTrain from JFK to Manhattan?
After a price increase in 2019, using the JFK AirTrain now costs $7.75 (compared to $5.50 before the increase). If you choose to buy a 10-trip JFK MetroCard, however, one trip will only cost $2.50. It is the cheapest way to ride the AirTrain.

Is the JFK AirTrain safe?
The AirTrain is a driverless system, meaning there is no conductor operating the train. It is, however, safe to use. Millions of people board the AirTrain every year.

About the author
Maureen

Oh, how lucky I am… always at the pulse of the greatest city in the world – what could be better? New York City is my passion and I’m happy to be able to share my experiences along with insider tips and helpful tricks with you. With me by your side, you’ll never miss a beat!

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