The Differences Between the 3 New York City Area Airports (JFK, LGA, EWR)

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New York City is one of the largest cities in the world and it has three airports supporting the metropolitan area: John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR).

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Both LaGuardia Airport and Kennedy Airport are located in Queens, New York, which is a borough of New York City. Kennedy Airport is largely for international flights as the runways are longer than 14,000 feet.

JetBlue has a decent presence at Kennedy Airport, though it’s all domestic and Caribbean flying. American Airlines has several flights as well, however as mentioned Delta Air Lines is the largest carrier with the most flight options.

Just north of Kennedy Airport is LaGuardia Airport, which is a much smaller airport with just two runways spanning just about 7,000 feet. This airport is largely for domestics flights since it’s too small to accommodate the larger aircraft. American Airlines and Delta Air Lines maintain hubs at LaGuardia. The airport is about to go through the a multi-billion dollar renovation.

Newark Liberty International Airport is located in Newark, New Jersey and is the main hub of United Airlines. The airport is for both domestic and international flights. I like Newark Airport the best because it’s close to New York City, especially lower Manhattan.

An Lyft ride will likely cost $40 to midtown Manhattan, roughly the same cost for a ride from New York City to LaGuardia, but less than the $60 a ride to Kennedy Airport costs. Plus, there is a monorail that travels from Newark Airport to a train station, which passengers can then take a train to New York City’s Penn Station.

Kennedy Airport also has a monorail to the Jamaica, Queens train station – which offers multiple trains to Penn Station.

LaGuardia Airport has the worst travel options to New York City as there is no public transportation option other than a bus.

Bottom Line

If you need help redeeming your credit card or airlines miles for free flights to New Yorkwe recommend using the Juicy Miles award booking service, who can help you redeem for the lowest amount of miles.

What’s your preferred airport when flying into NYC, and how to do you get into the city from that airport?

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed on this site are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed.

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  1. I am usually forced to fly into LGA and either rent a car (if leaving the metro area) or taxi to train station or hotel. I try to avoid international connections in NYC since it means I usually have to transit LGA to JFK which is plain stupid with no subway connections.

  2. Does anyone know how bad TSA lines have been recently at JFK? We have Precheck but know it is not always open in term.8 ?

  3. LaGuardia is the “New Yorkiest” of the 3 airports.
    When you land there, you really feel like you are in New York.
    Kennedy was fun when it was Idlewild and had a sense of glamour to it. Now? It’s like going to Uzbekistan International Airport.
    Newark used to have one terminal so very close to the Turnpike and had a serious destination restaurant called, “The Newarker”. You’d find Zsa Zsa dining there.
    Now, even though EWR is actually closer to Manhattan (it always was!) than JFK, don’t you get a sense that you are in Pittsburgh or Columbus when you are there? It’s wierd; nobody looks or sounds like they’re from New York City!
    Nice airport. But it’s not New York.

  4. The airtrain at Newark is like a monorail connecting the terminals and the train station. Staff are at the airport to assist w tickets for the airtrain and on to Manhattan. If you take it to the station to connect to the train to Penn station in Manhattan, there is an indoor/outdoor platform. Trains run about every 20 minutes. The trip on the train takes about 30 minutes or less from airport to Penn. over age 62 saves about $4 each. On return, Due to rain, we ubered back to to Newark airport from Manhattan. But also due to rain, Uber and Lyft both switched to high demand pricing. Uber said it would cost $100 instead of $62 quoted before the rain started. Not knowing the train schedule and worried about missing our flight, we used Uber. Took about 1 hour due to rain traffic in Manhattan. Uber then charged $130 due to Holland Tunnel and other fees. To their credit, when I protested on their website, they reduced it back to the quoted amount of $ 100 at time of booking. Overall, we should have planned better for rain. Maybe used taxi or car service to Penn station and checked train schedule or checked into the many shuttles that run vans to the airports.

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  7. Do not make any international arrivals in Newark if you can avoid it.
    4 hours standing in line for customs.
    Yes 4 hours with only one officer for US Citizens and 3-4 for foreigners and 2 for crew members who just stand there and won’t move over to help

  8. I always use Newark as United (Continental) have flights from regional airports around the UK, so you don’t have to travel to London to fly into NYC. I’ve flown from Manchester and Glasgow, but I’m pretty sure they fly from places like Edinburgh and Bristol too. I’ve use the monorail or Air Train which connects to the train station and Amtrack in the past but the issue seems to be missing trains and waiting around in the cold with a suitcase. You still have to get from your destination from Penn station too. I prefer the bus service outside of the terminal which is cheap and takes you directly into the city for a few dollars. Its pretty quick and includes turnpike fees. We usually jump off opposite Grand Central and walk to our hotel. Newark is pretty convenient for central and lower Manhattan and also has great views over the skyline from the terminal.

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