Transferring between LGA and JFK airports
March 25, 2005 5:06 PM   Subscribe

I am trying to book a flight for my honeymoon. I live (and will be departing from) Toronto, and there is a stop in NYC. The flight is scheduled to arrive at La Guardia at 9am and my connecting flight is scheduled to depart at 12:30pm. I do not travel very frequently, so I am not sure how long it will take to get out of the airport at LGA (customs, baggage, etc), how far it is between airports, how bad traffic is on a Sunday morning/afternoon in NYC, and how long it will take to check in at JFK. How can I determine whether the 3.5 hours I have are a long enough time? I don't want to book this flight until I am reasonably sure. Under normal circumstances, I would be adventurous and take the chance, but I don't want to risk any problems for the honeymoon!
posted by omair to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (14 answers total)
The traffic at that time of day is usually okay, but the trip is an enormous hassle and involves an expensive taxi fare (no real public transport). You also have to worry about whether or not your first flight lands on time. I'd find a way to avoid the LGA-JFK connection if I were you. Can you go through Boston or Dulles? Or Chicago?
posted by Saucy Intruder at 5:10 PM on March 25, 2005

Try this information on the Port authorities website.
posted by schyler523 at 5:16 PM on March 25, 2005

I would suggest that if you take this trip, you save yourself the headache, spend another $10, and get black car/limousine service, as opposed to taking a cab. You'll go through customs in Canada, because LGA isn't technically an international airport, so your time at the airport will be determined by whether you end up checking baggage.
posted by LiliaNic at 5:50 PM on March 25, 2005

It's doable, but it will likely be a huge pain. I would do yourself the favor and find a less annoying connection -- you're probably going to be exhausted after your wedding and I bet you'll be grateful for an easier itinerary.

Where is your destination? Maybe someone who's flown it before will be able to recommend a better connection.
posted by boomchicka at 5:50 PM on March 25, 2005

Every time I've flown from Toronto (Pearson) into the US all the customs stuff gets done before you leave Toronto. So you should be able to go straight to the taxi stand when you get to LGA.

I've never had to fly out of JFK so can't help on that part.

The only risk is if your flight lands at LGA gets delayed. I once spent an hour on the tarmac after landing because a gate wasn't ready for us. And I've had to circle LGA for 1.5 hours on what appeared to be a decent day for flying. Good luck!
posted by birdherder at 5:56 PM on March 25, 2005

There are express buses that shuttle between them. At least an hour each way, i'd guess. It's a pain.

I'd try to switch my Toronto-NY flight to one landing at JFK--it takes time to go from one terminal to another anyway, within JFK.
posted by amberglow at 5:57 PM on March 25, 2005

I have done the Toronto to LGA to JFK before. Make sure you know all the details before leaving - a cab worked for us - you should be ok.
It is easier to just take a cab than to look for a bus, find the right bus - also avoid the angst when the bus is a few min late.
posted by bright77blue at 6:07 PM on March 25, 2005

Ughh! This is a terrible idea. It is hassle enough to make a connection within one airport, much less to have to travel to another airport across town. How much stress do you want on your honeymoon? From personal experience, the wedding and honeymoon can be pretty stressful without this kind of travel. I would try to find a direct flight, or at least a connection within one airport. I am sure there are flights to JFK from Toronto. Also, if this is a charter flight you are taking from JFK, make sure you are scheduled to get there many hours in advance as generally if you miss the charter flight that is it; there are no later flights etc. and no refund.
posted by caddis at 6:07 PM on March 25, 2005

I was in NYC about a month ago. The Shuttle that amberglow suggested is a great idea, because it's only $30 ($15 to Manhattan, and $15 to JFK) but 3.5hours might cut it short. I believe its about 1hr from LGA to Manhattan and another hour to JFK. So if you're catching a quick flight on JetBlue or something from JFk that might be no problem, but if you might have to wait in line/go through customs or if security is really tight/lines super long, it might be a risk. But a taxi from LGA to JFK shouldn't be more than $50 I don't think, and that'll likely be only an hour drive.
posted by ruwan at 7:24 PM on March 25, 2005

ruwan, the bus i linked to only goes back and forth--it doesn't go into Manhattan at all.
posted by amberglow at 8:28 PM on March 25, 2005

Having worked for a retail franchise at both NY airport locations I frequently drove to and from them for my job. I have also done this twice for relatives this year giving them the lift from LaGuardia to Jfk with one time having only 2 hours in btwn connections. Bottom line is with a yellow cab it will take you anywhere from 25 - 40 minutes from taxi stand to taxi stand. You will be cutting it tight but you should be fine. Cab fare will be between $28- $34. Also the timing is very good in your favor--Sunday morning traffic is very easy flowing. I could be bold and even bet you could make the yellow cab trip in 20 minutes if your cabbie has had a strong cup of coffee in him.
posted by stavx at 9:23 PM on March 25, 2005

You don't have to go in and out of NYC to get from one airport to another--they're both actually east of the island of Manhattan. LGA is just over the river in Queens, and JFK is further out, basically on the border b/w Brooklyn/Queens and Long Island.

That being said, it is definitely not a simple commute--both airports can be mess to get around, and the Grand Central/Van Wyck parkways (which is the main route to JFK) can easily get jammed at any hour of the day.

Technically, stavx is definitely right. In the right circumstances, you could actually make it with time to spare, but that's if nothing goes badly wrong with your first flight or with the traffic. Stressed out and checking your watch on the Van Wyck is not a great way to spend the first day of your honeymoon. (Unless you're one of those couples that thrives on adrenaline and nightmare-travel stories. You can spend the next 20 years regaling people with the story of how you spent the first night of your honeymoon sleeping on the floor at JFK.)
posted by LairBob at 5:36 AM on March 26, 2005

3.5 hours is about right in my experience, again if (as everyone has said) the flight arrives on time, you don't get hassled in Customs, and there aren't nutty accidents on that section of the parkway.

Take a cab. The other options really suck.
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:53 PM on March 26, 2005

I'd try to switch my Toronto-NY flight to one landing at JFK

I've poked around a bit on the Web; couldn't find any direct am flight from Toronto to JFK (and very, very few, in general). This sounds like something to ask a travel agent about, or look at a copy of the Official Airline Guide.

In general, to avoid a tight connection in the morning, one option is to arrive the previous night and stay at a nearby hotel. (The JFK website has information on nearby hotels.)

In the US, you're often advised to arrive up to three hours early for international flights, particularly because getting through security can take a while. However, it appears that security delays at JFK at the time you're going out are minimal.
posted by WestCoaster at 9:51 PM on March 26, 2005

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