Many people place a trip to New York City at the top of their bucket lists. It’s a uniquely American city, bustling with activity and built on a rich history of cultural exchange. All five boroughs have a great deal to offer, from famous landmarks to delicious and unique food.
However, NYC is also famous for its traffic. With over eight million residents in total, the city never truly sleeps. Everybody’s got things to do and places to be. The area can be difficult to navigate for tourists and other visitors. At NYC Perfect Transport, our goal is to take the stress out of traveling from place to place.
If you plan to visit New York City soon, you’ll need to know more about your transportation options. Let’s start with the main hubs: New York City’s three main airports. Here’s everything you need to know about JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark.
John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
JFK International Airport is a hub for people traveling all over the world, on par with London’s Heathrow. It’s the home base of JetBlue Airlines—walk by Terminal 5, and you’ll see it decked out in their signature blue. If you like meeting people from every corner of the globe, JFK is the perfect place to be.
Originally called Idlewild Airport, this major hub was initially built to relieve some of the stress on LaGuardia Airport, which opened in 1939. Idlewild’s first flight occurred in 1948 and expanded rapidly over the following years. By 1954, it was the busiest international airport in the world.
Idlewild Airport was renamed in honor of John F. Kennedy on Christmas Eve of 1963, just over a month after Kennedy’s assassination.
This airport is located in Jamaica, Queens and is easy to reach via either public transit or private car service. It features six large passenger terminals that are used by over 70 international airlines. JFK is still the main air travel gateway into North America—lots of international travel here!
The six terminals at JFK are numbered from 1 through 8, skipping Terminals 3 and 6, which were demolished a number of years ago. If you’ve got time to spare before your flight, check out Terminal 4 for its exquisite dining options. Want to do some shopping before you board? Terminal 1 is where it’s at.
JFK Airport is about 16 miles southeast of Midtown Manhattan. To travel seamlessly from Manhattan to the airport, consider hiring an airport black car service to get you there on time. NYC Perfect Transport’s drivers are familiar with every block of this great city, and we know the flow of traffic like the backs of our hands.
LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
This mostly-domestic airport in Queens is the third-busiest of New York City’s three main airports. It’s a hub for popular domestic airlines like Delta, Southwest, United, and American Airlines. And after several years of criticism for its run-down facilities and dingy decor, LaGuardia is undergoing a few renovations.
As of 2022, Terminal B has undergone an impressive renovation, and a new and improved Terminal C—a major hub for Delta Airlines—has opened to the public as well. At roughly $4 billion, Terminal C is Delta’s largest-ever investment.
LaGuardia Airport is named in honor of former New York City mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, whose tenure lasted from 1934 to 1945. As the story goes, the mayor had an angry outburst after landing at Newark Airport, which is in New Jersey, when his ticket clearly said “New York.” Newark was the only commercial airport serving the NYC area at the time. Then-Mayor LaGuardia’s frustration led him to give an off-the-cuff press conference calling for a new airport in New York City proper.
The new airport was built in Queens and dedicated in 1939. It is currently the closest airport to Manhattan (about eight miles away) and is largely reserved for domestic flights. LaGuardia Airport enforces a “perimeter rule” that prohibits nonstop flights farther than 1,500 miles. International flights must land at nearby outstations as LaGuardia does not have its own customs or border protection facilities.
Despite LaGuardia’s close proximity to Manhattan, there are very few public transportation options that will get you there directly. The best option to get to LaGuardia on time is a professional car service. Recent renovations in and around the airport have opened up more highway access so cars can deliver you to your terminal more efficiently.
Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
This international hub sits on the border between the cities of Newark and Elizabeth, New Jersey. Despite technically being in a different state, Newark Airport is only nine miles west-southwest of Manhattan. It proudly serves the five boroughs—even if some New Yorkers, like former Mayor LaGuardia, would rather not fly into Jersey.
Newark is a major hub of United Airlines. If you’re flying United into the city, prepare to land here. It’s also a bustling international airport with a little less chaos than JFK. Flying through Newark will generally be a less crowded, less anxiety-causing experience than rushing through Kennedy. There’s also much less auto traffic outside the airport! Whether you hail a taxi or hire a private car service, your driver will have an easier time navigating the traffic in Newark.
Once you’re past security and are killing time before your flight, you’ll notice how different the terminals are. Terminal A is known for being more crowded than the others, without much to do besides eat typical airport food and wait for your flight. Luckily, Terminal A has been undergoing a massive reconstruction project. By the end of 2022, it will boast a total of 33 gates, plus a brand-new parking garage.
Terminal B is directly overseen by the Port Authority and handles most of the international travel (with the exception of United flights). The food is a little more diverse, and there are lounges to enjoy while you wait for your international flight.
Terminal C is the home of United Airlines, as well as a wide array of international food options. Many people view this spot as the highlight of the entire airport; Fodor’s Travel Awards named it the best airport in the nation for foodies. Many of the restaurants you’ll find there are helmed by celebrity chefs.
New York City is home to over eight million people, as well as countless sights to see and thousands of restaurants to visit. You may view its airports as purely utilitarian—a place to get you in the air—but that couldn’t be further from the truth. New York City’s three main airports also have plenty to offer! So what do you need to know? Easy: have your driver get you there with time to spare, and your travel experience will be that much more rewarding.