Generally, most international flights go in and out of John F. Kennedy or Newark Liberty airport, while domestic flights go in and out of both of these, as well as LaGuardia Airport.
The major air gateways to New York City are LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in the borough of Queens, and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) in the state of New Jersey.
Car services can be a great convenience, because upon request the driver can meet you in the baggage-claim area and helps with your luggage (though more likely, the driver will wait in the car to rendezvous with you in a designated airport-pickup zone). Airport flat rates are often comparable to taxi fares, but some car services charge for parking and wait time at the airport. To eliminate these expenses, other car services require you to telephone their dispatcher (or order a car through an app) when you land so they can send the next available car to pick you up. The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission rules require all car services to be licensed and pick up riders only by prior arrangement; if possible, call 24 hours in advance for reservations or at least a half day before your flight's departure. Drivers of nonlicensed vehicles ("gypsy cabs") often solicit fares outside the terminal in baggage-claim areas. Don't take them: you run the risk of an unsafe ride in a vehicle that may not be properly insured and will almost certainly pay more than the going rate. Reserving a car with Lyft, Uber, Juno, or other ride-sharing services is another option—just be sure you know which airport terminal you're at before setting the pickup location.
Transfers—Taxis and Shuttles
Outside the baggage-claim area at each of New York's major airports are yellow-cab stands where a uniformed dispatcher connects passengers with taxis. Cabs are not permitted to pick up fares anywhere else in the arrivals area, so if you want a taxi, take your place in line. Shuttle services generally pick up passengers from designated spots along the curbs.
GO Airlink NYC, NYC Airporter, and SuperShuttle run vans and some buses from JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark (NYC Airporter does not run to Manhattan from Newark) airports to popular spots like Grand Central Terminal, the Port Authority Bus Terminal, Penn Station, and hotels in Manhattan. Fares on NYC Airporter, for instance, cost about $15–$18 one-way and $28–$34 round-trip per person to or from JFK or LGA. Those rates are significantly cheaper than taking a taxi if you're on your own, but probably not if there are two or more of you traveling together. If you choose to use such services, keep in mind that customers' satisfaction with them is very mixed; online reviews often complain of rude employees and significant waits for vans to both arrive and reach their destinations. In any case, allow extra time for the shuttle's other pickups and drop-offs along the way.
Transfers from JFK International Airport
The rate for traveling between JFK and Manhattan by yellow cab in either direction is a flat fee of $52.80 plus surcharges and tolls (which average about $6). The trip takes 40–60 minutes. Prices are roughly $25–$55 for trips to most other locations in New York City. You should also tip the driver for safe driving and good service (around 10%–20% of the final fare).
JFK’s AirTrain ($5) connects JFK Airport to the New York City subway (A, E, J, and Z trains) and the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR)—both of which take you to Manhattan or Brooklyn. The AirTrain monorail system runs 24 hours, though it's far less frequent overnight. Not sure which train to take? Check citymapper.com/nyc, www.iridenyc.com, or tripplanner.mta.info (or their corresponding apps) for the best route to your destination. Subway travel between JFK and Manhattan takes about an hour and costs $3.75 in subway fare (including the $1 fee for a refillable MetroCard) plus another $5 for the AirTrain. The LIRR travels between JFK's AirTrain stop (Jamaica Station) and Penn Station in around 30 minutes, for about $17, including the AirTrain fee. When traveling from Manhattan to JFK via subway, take the E train to Sutphin Boulevard or take the A train to the Howard Beach station; then, in either case, transfer to the AirTrain. If you are riding the A train, be sure to take an A train marked "Far Rockaway" or "Rockaway Park," not an A train bound for "Lefferts Boulevard."
Transfers from LaGuardia Airport
Taxis cost $30–$50 (plus tip and tolls) to most destinations in New York City, and take at least 20–40 minutes.
For $2.75 (pay with a MetroCard or exact change in coins, no pennies and no dollar bills) you can ride the Q70 bus to the Woodside–61st Street subway station in Queens (with connections to the 7 train, or to the LIRR, with service to Penn Station) or to the Jackson Heights–Roosevelt Avenue subway stop, where you can transfer to the E, F, M, R, and 7 trains and reach many points in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Another option is to take the M60 bus to its end point at 106th Street and Broadway on Manhattan's Upper West Side, with connections en route to several New York City Subway lines (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, A, B, C, D, N, and Q trains). Allow at least 60 minutes for the entire trip to Midtown, and perhaps a bit more during heavy traffic or rain.
Transfers from Newark Airport
Taxis to Manhattan cost $50–$70 plus tolls and tip and take 20–45 minutes in light traffic; inquire with the airport's taxi dispatcher about shared group rates, too. If you're heading to the airport from Manhattan, there’s a $17.50 surcharge on top of the normal taxi rate, plus tolls and a customary tip.
AirTrain Newark, an elevated light-rail system, can take you from the airline terminal to the Newark Liberty International Airport Station. From here you can take New Jersey Transit (or, for a much higher price, Amtrak) trains heading to New York Penn Station. It's an efficient and low-cost way to get to New York City, particularly if you don't have many in your group and aren't carrying massive amounts of luggage. Total travel time to New York Penn Station via New Jersey Transit is approximately 30 minutes and costs $13. By contrast, a similar, slightly faster trip (about 25 minutes) via Amtrak costs roughly $28. The AirTrain runs every three minutes from 5 am to midnight and every 15 minutes from midnight to 5 am. Note that New Jersey Transit trains first make a stop at the confusingly named Newark Penn Station before they reach New York Penn Station, their final stop. If you're not sure when to get off the train, ask a conductor or fellow passenger.
Coach USA, with Olympia Trails, runs Newark Airport Express buses that leave for Manhattan and stop at Port Authority, Bryant Park (at 42nd Street and 5th Avenue), and Grand Central Terminal about every 15–30 minutes until midnight. The trip takes roughly 45 minutes, and the fare is $16 (plus a $1 administrative fee). Buses headed to Newark Airport depart at the same intervals, from the same Manhattan locations.
Transfers Between Airports
There are several transportation options for connecting to and from area airports, including shuttles, AirTrain and mass transit, and car service or taxi. SuperShuttle and NYC Airporter run vans and buses between Newark, JFK, and LaGuardia airports. AirTrain provides information on how to reach your destination from any of New York's airports. Note that if you arrive after midnight at any airport, you may wait a long time for a taxi. There is also no shuttle service on NYC Airporter at that time.