Guest Author - Julia Reed Zaic
Like most of you, I am trying to save some money and conserve resources during these tough financial times. For years Iíve heard how simple it is to hop a subway and a train and find myself standing in the appropriate terminal at JFK for about $12. Yet until recently, I had never tested the route. Now that I have, I would recommend it, but with a few caveats.
First of all, this method of transportation to JFK from Manhattan is not perfect. If you despise crowds and big cities, Iíll say right off the bat, donít do it. However, if you have a reasonable level of tolerance for commuting, and want to save several Andrew Jacksons, give it a try.
It all comes down to cost really. Getting from Manhattan to JFK can run you anywhere from $40 to $90 in a cab depending on your point of departure from the city. A town car or limo service is obviously more. So after a long week in the city where I encountered several unexpected expenses, I felt the need to be a bit resourceful. After discussing it with a co-worker, she and I decided to give the AirTrain a test ride.
I am not one to shy away from public transportation, in fact, I love it. That is, when I donít have heavy bags in tow and a plane to catch. Yet, I must say I was pleasantly surprised by my experience with this little journey of which started in the city. The map online seemed simple enough to follow. The goal was to take either the A-train or the E-train (blueline), both trains heading to Queens. So from my original point of departure, I caught the A-train from the World Trade Center/Chambers Street station.
The first realization that hit us after we committed to this adventure was: There is no elevator from the surface streets in the Manhattan down to the subway platform. Never noticed it before, because we never needed one. It presented a challenge since we both had a weekís worth of winter clothes and work files packed in our large rolling suitcases, plus briefcases and backpacks on our arms and backs. The view from the top of the subway stairs seems daunting. Did I mention it had just finished snowing?
I made the trip down the wet stairs to the platform slowly but surely with my bags. I then risked leaving them on the platform to come right back up and assist my friend who has a bad wrist. Low and behold, before I could get there, two young strapping New Yorkers swept her bags up and helped her down. New Yorkers are so very nice, donít let anyone tell you otherwise.
Once on the subway, the only challenge was moving my bag out of the way so that people wouldnít trip over it as they boarded and exited at the several stops the A-train makes out of Manhattan and through Queens. The subway ride was about 30 minutes to the AirTrain station, which we transferred to at the Howard Beach subway station. We exited the subway and took the elevator up to the next platform. The signs were easy to follow to the AirTrain.
Once on the AirTrain itself, the ride was smooth sailing. The train itself is built for travel with luggage, with seats on one side, and large areas to place your bags, or stand with them. The terminals were clearly marked and the operator made it clear which station we should exit for our airline. Our terminal on this trip was Terminal 5 for JetBlue Airways, my personal favorite. There were escalators and elevators to assist with heavy baggage and we walked right into the terminal where we checked in and cleared security.
Again, if you donít like crowds or diversity when commuting, or need to make important phone calls on the way to the airport, this mode of airport transportation isnít for you. However, given the right circumstances, Iíd do it again. The AirTrain operates 24-hours a day, but check the connecting subway schedules below if you have a late flight.