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NYC Newbie Needs Advice Re JFK Transportation

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I'm flying into JFK on May 24 to spend Memorial Day weekend playing tourist with my sister. I'll be flying in alone and need to get from JFK to my hotel on the Upper West Side with 1 carry-on bag. And, of course, I'll need to get back to JFK on Monday the 27th.

I've done a lot of reading and research and it sounds like taking a taxi from JFK to the hotel would be a great option, but at about $70 each way for one person that just seems like a lot of $$. The shuttle services all sound like they are fine if you happen to get on the bus when it's about full so you don't spend an hour just circling the airport looking for more passengers, but I'm not really sure I feel like taking the chance - I don't care so much about the time as I care about riding around in circles in an uncomfortable shuttle bus.

So I'm considering taking Airtrain to Penn Station and then taking a cab from there to the hotel (The Lucerne at West 79th and Amsterdam). BTW, I'm a 57 year old woman who also doesn't really want to lug that carry-on up and down a bunch of stairs, if that makes a difference.

Any suggestions or comments? Thanks!

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