NYC Airports – JFK, LGA & EWR

Which is the best New York Airport?

Image of author Maureen
Maureen
6. March 2020
885 ratings

There are three major airports in New York, through which about 130 million passengers pass every year. Even though all of them relatively close to Manhattan, there may be reasons to favor one NYC airport over another. So which New York airport should you choose?

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What airports are in NYC?

New York airport map

Three major airports are serving New York:

  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
  • LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
  • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)

All three NYC airports are operated by Port Authority.


JFK Airport

JFK Airport redevelopment
provided by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

Formerly known as New York International Airport, the airport was renamed after the 35th president John Fitzgerald Kennedy as a tribute following his assassination in 1963. John F. Kennedy International Airport (also referred to as JFK or Kennedy airport) is located in the borough of Queens, about 16 miles from Manhattan. It is the city’s most popular airport for international flights. In fact, it is the sixth busiest airport in the whole country handling over 60 million passengers and serving more than 90 airlines, including American Airlines and Delta Airlines.

There are six terminals a JFK: 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, and 8. If you are now wondering where 3 and 6 went; they were demolished after Terminal 5 was expanded. All terminals are connected by AirTrain which will also connect you to public transport (subway lines ACE) via Jamaica or Howard Beach station.

JFK Map

JFK Redevelopment: “A new JFK”

JFK airport redevelopment
provided by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

A redevelopment project called “a new JFK” will transform JFK into a modern 21st-century airport. The overhaul is set to start in 2020 and will target Terminals 1 and 6. Both will benefit from more and better retail and dining opportunities as well as new gates. The facilities are scheduled to open in 2023 while the full terminal is expected to open in 2025. Are you curious about the redevelopment? Have a look at the new JFK.

JFK Airport Transfers

Generally speaking, you have the option to use public transport or a private vehicle. In a perfect world without traffic or delays, public transport will take you an hour and a private vehicle 30 minutes. To be safe, I would always add on a few extra minutes. Airport transfers from JFK can cost anywhere from $10.

From and to Manhattan

  • AirTrain + Subway = $10.50
  • Shared Shuttle = $24
  • Private Transfer = $22
  • Taxi = $52.50
  • Rideshare = $70
  • Bus = N/A

More details

From and to Brooklyn

  • AirTrain + Subway = $10.50
  • Shared Shuttle = N/A
  • Private Transfer = $17
  • Taxi = $75
  • Rideshare = $70
  • Bus = N/A

More details

LaGuardia Airport

LaGuardia Airport was named after New York mayor LaGuardia who was in office when the New York airport was built. It is located in Queens, only 8 miles from Manhattan, making it the closest airport to Manhattan. As the 21st busiest airport in the country, it is the least busy one of the three NYC airports and mostly serving domestic flights. Why? There is no border control facility at LGA, meaning that international flights without border preclearance can only land at JFK or EWR where border control is present.

Traveling to and from LGA, you will find yourself in one of four terminals: A, B, C, and D. Reconstruction is in full swing at LaGuardia with 2021 being the to be completed in 2021. Includes an AirTrain facilitating transfer to Manhattan.

LGA Map

LaGuardia Airport Redevelopment: “A whole new LGA”

After years of heavy criticism for bad customer service and outdated facilities, an $8 billion modernization and redevelopment project broke ground at LGA in 2016. Within the redevelopment, the existing airport will be replaced with “a whole new LGA”. Once completed, the new airport will also operate an AirTrain that would provide 30-min travel to and from Manhattan. For up-to-date info, have a look at the whole new LGA.

LaGuardia Airport Transfers

Because LGA is the closest airport to Manhattan, a ride to Manhattan can be as fast as 20 minutes. While public transport may take a little longer, it is also more economical. Until the completion of the new LGA AirTrain, these are your airport transfer options:

From and to Manhattan:

  • Bus + Subway = $2.75
  • Shuttle = $22
  • Private transfer = $14
  • Rideshare = $15
  • Taxi = $40

More details

From and to Brooklyn:

  • Bus + Subway = $2.75
  • Shuttle = N/A
  • Private transfer = $18
  • Rideshare = $15
  • Taxi = $30

more details


Newark Airport

Newark Airport

Located in New York’s neighboring state New Jersey, Newark Liberty International Airport was the first airport in the New York metropolitan area. Now, it is the eleventh busiest airport in the country. Though it does not handle more passengers as JFK, Newark Airport, in fact, handles more flights. In total, about 50 airlines serve the airport, most noteworthily United Airlines.

EWR has three terminals: A, B, and C. They are connected by AirTrain, which also stops at Newark Liberty Airport Station connecting you to NJ Transit.

Newark Airport Transfers

Getting from Newark Airport to New York is not as difficult as you may think. Yet, it costs more than the transfer from JFK or LGA. If all stars align, you can be in Manhattan within 30 minutes. On a bad day during a bad time, it could also take up to 90 minutes. Have a look at all your transfer options, starting at $16.25.

From and to Manhattan:

  • AirTrain + Train = $18
  • Shuttle = $24
  • Private transfer = $21
  • Bus = $21.25
  • Taxi = $70
  • Rideshare = $40

More details

From and to Brooklyn:

  • AirTrain + Train + Subway = $18
  • Shuttle = $26
  • Private transfer = $34
  • Bus + Subway = $24
  • Taxi = $90
  • Rideshare = $75

More details


Which NYC Airport should you fly into?

All three NYC airports are easily accessible and offer many transfer options to the city. They do, however, differ in their distance to Manhattan and therefore also their transfer duration. Different options also result in a more convenient way to get to Manhattan, or less convenient respectively.

Most Popular

John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)

Closest

LaGuardia Airport (LGA)

Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)

Distance to Manhattan

16 miles
8 miles
16 miles

Transfer Time

> 30 minutes
> 20 minutes
> 30 minutes

Transfer Cost

from $10
from $2.75

from $16.25

Transfer Options

  • Subway
  • Taxi
  • Private transfer
  • Shuttle
  • Rideshares

see details

  • Bus
  • Taxi
  • Private transfer
  • Shuttle
  • Rideshares

see details

  • Train
  • Taxi
  • Private transfer
  • Shuttle
  • Rideshares

see details

Destinations

189

87

185

Airport Amenities

  • Free WiFi
  • ATMs
  • Currency Exchange
  • Shops
  • Restaurants
  • more
  • Free WiFi
  • ATMs
  • Currency Exchange
  • Shops
  • Restaurants
  • more
  • Free WiFi
  • ATMs
  • Currency Exchange
  • Shops
  • Restaurants
  • more

JFK vs LGA

If you have the choice between JFK and LGA, choose LaGuardia. It is closer to Manhattan and also offers you cheaper transfer to Manhattan.

JFK vs EWR

When choosing between JFK and EWR, go for JFK. Though the distance of each airport to Manhattan is similar, the transfer from JFK is a little cheaper. Also, keep in mind that landing at JFK means you are already in NYC. Both tunnels connecting NJ with NY, the Lincoln Tunnel and Holland Tunnel, can be horrendous during rush hour, resulting in a longer commute.

LGA vs EWR

If you are between EWR and LGA, I would prefer LGA, as it is much closer to Manhattan and therefore also takes less time. For those who are traveling on a budget, you can transfer for as little as $2.75. This price can’t be beaten!

JFK, LGA, or EWR?

My recommendations

If your destination is Manhattan, I would choose LGA > JFK > EWR.

  • Because of LaGuardia Airport‘s proximity to Manhattan, you will spend less time commuting. LGA also offers the cheapest transfer to Manhattan at a cost of only $2.75.
  • When traveling internationally, John F. Kennedy Airport is the best NYC airport to choose from. You’ll have many flight options and public transport to and from the airport can be as cheap as $10 for one way.
  • Landing and departing from Newark Airport makes the most sense if you are saying in NJ. Otherwise, it is further away from Manhattan and the transfer is also a little more expensive.

FAQ

What’s the closest airport to Manhattan?
Out of all airports in the NYC area, LaGuardia Airport is the closest airport to Manhattan. The distance between the airport and Manhattan is only 8 miles, which is why the transfer is also the shortest. The other two airports, JFK and Newark Airport are both about 12 miles away from Midtown Manhattan. JFK is located southeast of Manhattan in Queens while Newark Airport is located across the Hudson River, southwest of Manhattan.

Is it better to fly into JFK or LaGuardia?
LaGuardia Airport is closer to Manhattan than JFK, making it more convenient to fly into. Your transfer to the city will be shorter. If you are traveling internationally, however, you are more likely to land at JFK. Both airports are located and Queens and offer plenty of transfer options.

Is EWR or LGA closer to Manhattan?
With a distance of 8 miles, LaGuardia Airport is closer to Manhattan than Newark Airport with 12 miles. Because of its shorter distance, the airport transfer from LGA is also less time-consuming.

Which is the closest airport to Times Square?
Comparing all NYC airports, LGA is the closest airport to Midtown Manhattan and therefore also Times Square. If your hotel is located in that area, it’s most convenient to fly into LGA because you can easily take the bus, a taxi or rideshare to your hotel.

How many airports are there in New York?
There are three major airports in New York City: John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, and Newark International Airport. While JFK and LGA are located in New York City, EWR is located in New Jersey. Distance-wise, however, it’s almost as close to Manhattan than JFK.

Does New York have an airport?
New York City is home to two airports: JFK and LGA. Both are located in the borough of Queens and are easily accessible by public transport. When flying to New York City, you may also land at Newark International Airport in New Jersey. It’s one of the three airports serving the NYC area.

What are airports near NYC?
John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), LaGuardia Airport (LGA), and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) are the closest airports to New York. JFK and LGA are located in Queens while EWR is located in New Jersey.

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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