An AirTrain JFK Guide for travelers to New York

AirTrain JFK

What’s the AirTrain JFK?

AirTrain JFK is the 24/7 intra-airport monorail system at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, which also serves as an elevated railway outside of the airport. It’s 8.1 miles long, has 3 lines and is operated by Bombardier Transportation all day, every day of the year. If you ever wondered what the federal Passenger Facility Charge pays for, it includes airport-related improvements like this, which was a needed upgrade from the JFK Express. The AirTrain cost $1.9 billion, financed in part by this airport’s PFC.

You can access the AirTrain via subway, train or bus and it’s a fast, affordable, eco-friendly and convenient way to travel to or from the airport. Transport within the airport is free, including getting you to your airline terminal, parking lot, hotel shuttle area or rental car facility.

There’s a cost incurred for using the AirTrain to connect you with MTA New York City Transit subways and buses and the Long Island Rail Road. It’s a flat rate of $5 for using the AirTrain outside of the airport to connect to the subway (and then $2.75 for the subway fare). You need to pay the fare by MetroCard.

AirTrain JFK

Note that there are two types of MetroCard in New York – the regular MetroCard and the AirTrain MetroCard. You can’t use a regular multi-day MetroCard on AirTrain trips or vice-versa.

If you don’t yet have a MetroCard, it costs $1 from a vending machine, although there’s no cost if you buy one from an authorized vendor at one of the stations. If you’ll be using the AirTrain for multiple trips,  it may be cheaper overall if you get a 30-Day AirTrain JFK MetroCard, however, which is $40 for unlimited rides, or a 10-Trip AirTrain JFK MetroCard, which is $25 and good for ten trips.

The AirTrain system has three overlapping routes:

AirTrain JFK

  • The Howard Beach route.

AirTrain JFK

  • The Jamaica Station route.

AirTrain JFK

  • The free All Terminals loop, which serves the six terminal stations.

What else do I need to know about the AirTrain JFK?

AirTrain JFK

If you’re arriving at JFK Airport and you need to get to your hotel in Manhattan, then the economical fee of $7.75 per person can get you most of the way there with the AirTrain and the subway. If you have a lot of luggage or you’re traveling as part of a party, then it may be better to get an airport shuttle, rideshare or taxi, though, but otherwise the AirTrain is a great way to start your trip.

You can download the AirTrain brochure here, so that you already have it to hand before you travel.