Three NYC Airports: Which to Pick?

If you’ve never been to New York City before, it can be bewildering. With three airports under the “NYC” umbrella, it can be a daunting task to even select the flight. 

No matter which airport you pick, be prepared for delays. New York airspace slows down—and even shuts down—during winter snowstorms and summer thunderstorms. If you have a meeting you absolutely have to make, arrive the night before. 

Still, there are better and worse options:

1) John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) – locals call it “JFK” or “Kennedy” 

The busiest NYC airport and where most long-distance domestic and international flights depart and arrive. Want to fly in from Amman, Seoul, or Budapest non-stop? JFK’s your only option.

Catching a cab from JFK can be a soul-crushing experience. Town car drivers may try to hustle you for a larger fee, but if you want a standard city cab, politely say “no, thank you,” and head to the sanctioned cab stand outside on the curb. Be warned: with JFK being the farthest airport from Manhattan and the amount of traffic on that route, the ride can take much longer than expected.

Consider taking the AirTrain (people mover) instead and connecting to the subway or Long Island Railroad, which goes to both Long Island and Manhattan. 

2) LaGuardia Airport (LGA) – locals call it “LaGuardia”

LaGuardia is the closest airport to Manhattan by distance, but has a “perimeter rule” meaning no transcontinental or intercontinental flights can fly there.

Despite its proximity to the city, traveling from LaGuardia can also mean a stressful cab ride, especially during rush hour or bad weather. And there’s no subway or train station at the airport, so if you need to count on public transit, you’ll have to catch a bus and then connect to the subway.

On the upside, when traffic is light, LaGuardia can be a breeze: airport to downtown in under 20 minutes. 

3) Newark Liberty Airport (EWR) – locals call it ”Newark.” 

This airport is actually in New Jersey, but serves many people going to New York. It has several unique flights, including the longest-in-the-world Singapore-Newark non-stop. Other than that, there’s not much to recommend it; it has the worst customer reviews of any airport in the US, and, remarkably, 40 of the 100 most-delayed flights in the country are either to or from Newark.

Getting from Newark to New York can be a mess. During bad weather or rush hour (notice a trend?), you’re easily looking at more than an hour in a cab. And while there are NJ Transit and Amtrak trains that go from Newark Airport to Manhattan, they only runs a few times an hour.

Protip: If you want to search all three airports at once, use the catch-all “NYC” code on Hipmunk.

Now you tell us: if you’re a regular into New York, which airport do you prefer and why?


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Manhattanhenge is here!

This is a Hipmunk guest post from Jodi Ettenberg

This is a picture I took during last year’s Manhattanhenge, a jaw-droppingly beautiful spectacle that occurs when the sun sets just so between buildings in Midtown Manhattan. This surreal photo op only happens twice a year, when the sunset actually aligns with New York’s precise street grid and sets the skyscrapers aglow with light. 

This photo was at the corner of 51st street and 6th avenue, but there are several other great spots to see the sunset, and according to Gothamist, this summer’s Manhattanhenge is today and tomorrow.

The Hayden Planetarium provides some background:

Unnoticed by many, the sunset point actually creeps day to day along the horizon: northward until the first day of summer, then returning southward until the first day of winter. In spite of what pop-culture tells you, the Sun rises due east and sets due west only twice per year. On the equinoxes: the first day of spring and of autumn. Every other day, the Sun rises and sets elsewhere on the horizon. Had Manhattan’s grid been perfectly aligned with the geographic north-south line, then the days of Manhattanhenge would coincide with the equinoxes. But Manhattan’s street grid is rotated 30 degrees east from geographic north, shifting the days of alignment elsewhere into the calendar.

If you’re in New York today and tomorrow, you can view Manhattanhenge on the wider, clear cross streets (the ones that cut a swath directly across the city): 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd and 57th streets are each a great pick, as well those directly adjacent (the photo above was at 56th, so one before or after usually works). Of course, having the Empire State Building or the Chrysler building in your photo will be particularly iconic and thus 34th and 42nd streets will be popular choices for tonight’s show.

For those wanting learn more, you can also check out this evening’s talk at the planetarium about the Manhattanhenge phenomenon. (h/t to Kevin)

Enjoy! If any Hipmunks manage to catch the show today or tomorrow, link to your photos in the comments and we’ll include them in a post later this month.


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The Secret to Getting Cheap Broadway Tickets

Plan a trip to New York and you’re bound to consider a ticket to one of our fabulous shows. We’ve dropped knowledge about our beloved city before, but here’s the lowdown on how to get the lowest prices possible for Billy Elliot or Book of Mormon (good luck, this one is all kinds of popular right now).

Keep in mind that average Broadway shows are over $100 a seat. It’s worth going through a bit of trouble for a 25% or (often) higher discount.

TKTS Booth at Times Square / South Street Seaport / Brooklyn

Show up the day of your show at least one hour before TKTS opens to make sure you can get the show you want — they’ve got a limited quantity and popular shows sell out fast.

Student or Senior?

Rush tickets (just $20 or $25) are available to folks with a valid Student ID and are often available to Seniors, too. Do your research on forums like Talkin’ Broadway to see what’s available for each show.

Comfy shoes? Standing Room Only (SRO) is an option

Like Rush tickets, these are often also available at the theater, but you’ll need to show up wicked early — do your research and find out theater SRO policies (often students only) and what time the box office opens. eHow has a good strategy guide.

Tip from commenter Le Plu

You can try going to Broadway on Wednesday they have low prices and usually the first show is cheaper… Ask the teller for obstructed view seats, you might not see the whole stage but you can find tickets as low as $30USD.

More of a long-term planner & don’t get enough email?

You could always sign up for one of the myriad of Broadway newsletters that will periodically send some great deals.

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