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Will a flight scheduled to arrive at LaGuardia at 4:30pm leave me enough time to get to The Met by 7:30pm?
February 28, 2012 12:11 AM   Subscribe

If I'd like to attend an event that starts at 7:30pm at The Met in New York on Wednesday, is a flight that's scheduled to arrive in LaGuardia at 4:35 likely to make me late?

I've booked this flight from LAX->BWI->LGA -- the earliest flight I seem to be able to get out of LAX that day. Those details I linked say the on-time arrival record is excellent (100%), but the more I think about it, the more I'm worried that:

a) I may not be able to trust Southwest's stats (100%?), and the flight itself may not be on time -- I've heard New York airports have a big problem with air traffic congestion

b) I may be underestimating the amount of time it will take me to disembark, get transportation, drop off bags at a near-ish hotel, and get to the the Met.

Since I'm often not good at judging these things, I'd appreciate some other people's takes on whether Southwest's stats seem plausible, and what kind of travel time I might want to plan for on the ground at that time of day.

Thanks!
posted by weston to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (25 answers total)
 
Important questions: Are you going to check any bags, or just do carry-on? And do you mean the museum or the opera?

You'll be making your way through town during "rush" "hour". Eek.

Rather than dropping your bags off at the hotel, maybe you could look into whether one can check bags at the coat check for an extra fee?
posted by parrot_person at 1:18 AM on February 28, 2012


This sounds very doable. Yes, you are cutting it close with airport delays, but that's out of your control, and you'll still make it even if you're delayed a few minutes. I've generally had good luck with arrivals at LGA even if departures can be a bit slow (don't check bags). LGA to the Upper East Side is a very direct trip in a cab, so even if there is congestion and it takes three times as long as usual, you should arrive on time. I would choose a hotel very close to the museum if possible - if you're very far away you might be better off holding on to your bag.
posted by decathexis at 2:05 AM on February 28, 2012


If you can get out of LGA by 5:30 - meaning that your flight lands relatively on time, finds a gate, unloads, and you collect your bags by then - that gives you 2 hours to get to the Met.

IF you can also get into a cab by 5:30, then I'd say you have a fighting chance. Don't spend a lot of time at the hotel - quickly check in, have your bags delivered to your room, and grab another cab as quickly as possible.

The limiting factor, in my opinion, isn't the traffic/distance - on a good day, LGA to the Met could take as little as 45 minutes, so 2 hours would allow for a quick stop and plenty of traffic - but rather the availability of taxis. The taxi line at the airport frequently grows by dozens of people at a time as flights come in, with a dozen or so cabs arriving during every stoplight interval. You will be leaving the airport right after the infamous 4pm - 5pm city wide taxi shift change. During that hour, city wide taxi coverage drops by at least 25%, and combined with the rush hour demand spike that starts at 5pm, it's often near 6 by the time the city recovers. There's a risk that at that time of day you might find literally a hundred people waiting in the taxi line.
posted by ceribus peribus at 2:23 AM on February 28, 2012


Are you going to check any bags, or just do carry-on?

Definitely carry-on only.

And do you mean the museum or the opera?

Opera.

maybe you could look into whether one can check bags at the coat check for an extra fee?

I wondered about that too; the FAQ seems down on the idea, though...

You will be leaving the airport right after the infamous 4pm - 5pm city wide taxi shift change. During that hour, city wide taxi coverage drops by at least 25%, and combined with the rush hour demand spike that starts at 5pm, it's often near 6 by the time the city recovers. There's a risk that at that time of day you might find literally a hundred people waiting in the taxi line.

Hmm. If that turned out to be the case, how viable an option might public transportation be?
posted by weston at 3:02 AM on February 28, 2012


Hmm. If that turned out to be the case, how viable an option might public transportation be?

LGA doesn't have a direct subway/rail connection, so out of the three options of taxi, MTA bus, and hotel airport bus, taxis are still going to be your fastest bet (if not the cheapest).

However, given that you'll have no checked bags, it's a safe estimate that you can walk from the airplane to the taxi lineup in about 15 minutes. If you could get into that lineup by 5:00pm, then even if it's an hour long wait that puts you into a taxi by 6pm at the latest. That should be a reasonable worst case estimate for a Wednesday. If it's after 6:30 when you get a ride, I'd consider skipping the hotel and going directly to the event. If it's before 6, then you should have plenty of time to drop off your bags on the way.
posted by ceribus peribus at 3:46 AM on February 28, 2012


There will be taxis at the airport, despite shift change. Don't worry about that.
You can check your bag at the very nice coat check, slip a fiver in hand as you do.
You have the right amount of time, in my opinion.
posted by thinkpiece at 4:11 AM on February 28, 2012


If you go directly to the opera, I meant! Also, enjoy.
posted by thinkpiece at 4:11 AM on February 28, 2012


I've taken the M60 from LGA to the subway at Astoria Blvd. It's pretty easy - 20 minutes at the best of times. Traffic at rush hour would be the same as a taxi.
posted by exois at 4:59 AM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


One way to guarantee yourself a ride immediately rather than waiting in the taxi stand line would be to call ahead and hire a limo to pick you up at the airport. Not a stretch limo or anything, just a black Lincoln with a driver. I haven't used them very much, so I can't recommend a particular car service, but maybe others can. Let them know your desired itinerary and they'll probably be more than happy to wait for you at the hotel while you check in. And heck, you'll arrive at the opera in style.
posted by postel's law at 5:08 AM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've taken the M60 from LGA to the subway at Astoria Blvd. It's pretty easy

Yeah, I was going to suggest the M60 as a totally doable option. But to get to Lincoln Center, don't get off in Astoria, just stay on the bus across 125th St and transfer to the 1 or 2 train, which will take you the few stops down to the Met. I would guess the whole thing would take an hour give or take. Which may be faster than a cab or about the same. LGA to the Upper West Side isn't the greatest commute at that time of day, but typically an hour should get you there.

(If you do take the bus, make sure you have coins, or pick up a metrocard at a newsstand at LGA, which will give you the free transfer to the subway.)
posted by torticat at 5:26 AM on February 28, 2012


If you want to take postel's law's suggestion, I can recommend Town Car (800/831-7259) as a very reliable option.
posted by troywestfield at 6:00 AM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Honestly, I think everyone is overthinking it. The cab can take routes that are not very heavily trafficked by rush hour traffic (something like this going over the triboro bridge). Even with that slightly indirect route, google maps only estimates 30 minutes. I'd say at most it'll take an hour if you stick to a route that doesnt go through midtown.

Just take the cab, you'll get there with plenty of time.
posted by jourman2 at 6:11 AM on February 28, 2012


Where is the hotel? This is key info.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:22 AM on February 28, 2012


Don't take any luggage. Or carry-on. Ship it to your hotel via FedEx. That will cut a significant chunk of time out of your schedule.

I also think you should be concerned not just about LGA, but about BWI and that change or stopover as well. Can you get a direct flight to JFK and take the train?
posted by AugustWest at 7:43 AM on February 28, 2012


Where is the hotel? This is key info.

43rd Street/Times Square. It'd seem that the A line is near both there and Lincoln center and Google tells me I could travel it in about 15 minutes, or I imagine I could have a cab wait briefly while I drop off bags (I'm also meeting another party there who will already be checked in, which should help).

Should I be as concerned about that as I am about whether the flight is likely to get in on time and how likely it is I can get as far as Times Square?
posted by weston at 8:03 AM on February 28, 2012


In that location, and if you don't even have to check in, you should be fine.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:16 AM on February 28, 2012


Another option: the "airlink" shuttles and buses. These make round trips between the airports, Grand Central Station, and Port Authority; the trip takes about an hour. If you take the one to Port Authority, you'll be a block from Times Square (you'll be at about 42nd and 8th); it'd take about a 5-minute walk to get to your hotel (maybe ten, if the bus drops you off inside the terminal).

If you get out of the airport at 5:30, that'd get you to Port Authority by 6:30, your hotel by 6:45, and you'd have about 15 minutes to drop off luggage and then still have a half hour to either take the cab or subway to the 7:30 curtain.

Also, if you're trying to get to Lincoln Center, you may want to take the 1 train rather than the A train - take the 1 train to 66th Street. Not only is that a closer stop to Lincoln Center, but the 1 train is also closer to your hotel than the A train; the A is back over by Port Authority, on 8th Avenue; the 1 train is at Times Square, and there is an entrance right outside the door to your hotel. Look for the traffic island at 43rd and 7th with the New York Police Department shed on it; there is an entrance to the subway right there.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:30 AM on February 28, 2012


Oh, and make sure you take the 1 train rather than the 2, 3, or 9 - the 2 and 3 run over the same line, but they won't stop at 66th Street. The 1 train is a local; but from 42nd Street to 66th Street is only 3 stops, which should take no more than 15 minutes' travel time.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:32 AM on February 28, 2012


If it's Times Square you want to get to first, I take back what I said above about the M60. If it were me, and I wanted the best bet for getting from LGA to Times Square as fast as possible at that time of day, I would either take a cab to 61st St/Roosevelt and take the 7 express train into the city, or take a cab to the Astoria Blvd N/Q stop and take one of those trains into the city. In either case the cab ride will be about 15 minutes and the train 15 or 20 (plus waiting for the train, but that's not long). The main thing is getting on a train to avoid the bridge and cross-town car traffic at rush hour.

I live in Astoria and commute into and across the city multiple times a week by car and train. Honestly most of the options suggested above are likely to get you where you want in an hour, most days. If it were me and I were worried about it, though, definitely cab-->train.
posted by torticat at 10:52 AM on February 28, 2012


I also think you should be concerned not just about LGA, but about BWI and that change or stopover as well. Can you get a direct flight to JFK and take the train?

I'm also worried about the BWI change, but I don't know what to do about it without paying an additional $500. The closest affordable thing I can find is an AirTran flight that stops (rather than doing a plane change) in MKE and arrives at 4:06pm.

If it were me, and I wanted the best bet for getting from LGA to Times Square as fast as possible at that time of day, I would either take a cab to 61st St/Roosevelt and take the 7 express train into the city... The main thing is getting on a train to avoid the bridge and cross-town car traffic at rush hour.

torticat, that makes a lot of sense to me -- I think your strategy might be what I try!
posted by weston at 11:57 AM on February 28, 2012


Alternatively, Q33 bus from LGA to 74th St/Roosevelt Ave in Queens, then the E to Times Square. Probably around an hour total travel time best case scenario.
posted by weaponsgradecarp at 12:00 PM on February 28, 2012


torticat's strategy sounds good! Keep in mind while packing that you'll be walking up two flights of stairs to get to the elevated N platform and then multiple flights of stairs to get out of Times Square Station.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:13 PM on February 28, 2012


A cab to the 7 train that takes you right near your hotel is probably your best bet, and you shouldn't even feel rushed.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:06 PM on February 28, 2012


Thank you everyone! I really appreciate the whole discussion... even the advice I didn't end up using this trip helped me feel better prepared.

For anybody who's curious how it turned out: the plane actually got to the gate by 4:45 (despite taking off a half hour behind schedule), and with that much time, I actually decided to skip the cab and take the Q33 bus to the 7 line. It worked out great -- we ended up at the Met just a bit after 7pm.

The only bumps I'd mention (partly out of curiousity, partly to make this question more useful to others in the future):

* another guy waiting at LaGuardia said that the M60 and Q33 that arrived about 5:10 were the only buses he'd seen since 4:30pm -- I guess he was waiting for a Q72. That makes me wonder if the buses are reliable... or maybe if there's better places to wait for the buses within the airport than Southwest's terminal.

* Between the fact the bus I was on didn't have any stop announcements and the fogged/rainy windows, I had a bit of a hard time knowing if I'd recognize my stop. I feel pretty lucky the 7 is on a giant raised platform that's hard to miss (at least where I crossed it). The cab to a Roosevelt stop might've been the surer bet that would alleviate that problem, and I'm sure it would have been faster and essential if my flight had been later.

* After I got on a local 7 from 82nd, I stopped at 61st to see if I could catch an express. I saw a few outbound expresses stop, but no inbound... which made a lot of sense as I thought about it (outbound is where you want your express resources during pm rush, you'd want inbound express trains in the am rush), so I just got back on a local, which was fine.

Thanks again!
posted by weston at 9:29 AM on March 1, 2012


Thanks for the great update, glad you made it! I think the airlines have been starting to add NYC delays into their schedules.

You can always bother the bus driver and ask them to let you know where to get off, or ask other bus riders. They're usually a helpful sort.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:35 AM on March 1, 2012


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