September 9, 2014 8:05 AM   Subscribe

Should I land at JFK or LGA on a Friday night?

I'm arriving from Canada with a Nexus card in late October. I'd like to be able to get to Pt Authority area for 7:30pm.

My options are:

JFK, landing at 5:02pm.

LGA, landing at 5:30pm.

Which should I choose?
posted by miles1972 to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (27 answers total)
LaGuardia's likely to be the faster trip. Coming from JFK you'll have to cross much of Brooklyn before you get into Manhattan while LGA is just a hop skip and a jump away.
posted by Mothlight at 8:10 AM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'd actually advise JFK, IF you are taking public transit. From JFK you can get on the AirTrain, which connects you to the A Train, which will whisk you straight to Port Authority itself. You'd have 2 and a half hours, too, which is more than enough time.

Taking a taxi, LGA is geographically closer, but the traffic isn't going to be great. But it wouldn't be great from JFK either.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:14 AM on September 9, 2014 [6 favorites]

If it were me, I would go to LGA, grab a cab over the Triborough (RFK) and be there pretty quickly. You are going against rush hour traffic at LGA, at JFK, that is only partly true. I would also research on-time stats. LGA is more likely to be delayed, but you have plenty of time built in.

Know that at that hour on a Friday you will have traffic at either airport into the city.
posted by 724A at 8:15 AM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

LaGuardia is by far the safer bet, but both are going to be cutting it very close.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:16 AM on September 9, 2014

I'd recommend JFK and take the LIRR to Penn station, should get you there in under an hour from JFK depending on the schedule.. Take a cab (15 minutes) when you get to Penn Station.
posted by sandmanwv at 8:16 AM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

JFK → AirTrain → Jamaica → LIRR → Penn Station sounds complicated, but it's going to be MUCH quicker than trying to drive into the city on a Friday night.

And LGA → Q70 bus → Jackson Heights → E Train → PABT is probably just as good an option.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 8:17 AM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm willing to do either cab or subway, just whichever gets me to 42nd St for 730pm.
posted by miles1972 at 8:18 AM on September 9, 2014

Agree with landing at JFK and taking the AirTrain. The traffic from LGA can be horrendous beyond belief. It took me close to an hour to get to my house from LGA just the other night -- a trip that usually takes literally ten minutes.
posted by holborne at 8:26 AM on September 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

If you're looking for data, Google Maps is showing mass transit from JFK to Port Authority on Friday at 6 p.m. taking anywhere from 79 to 98 minutes depending on how you go.

Same trip is calculated at 53 to 64 minutes from LGA by mass transit, though that trip includes a ride by bus before you get to the 7.

The same trips by car will vary pretty widely depending on conditions the day of, but if it were me I'd fly into LGA with plans to take a cab, then use my phone to check road conditions and if it's looking grim consider heading out by mass transit.
posted by Mothlight at 8:31 AM on September 9, 2014

Ugh, ignore my bad recommendation above about mass transit out of LGA. You don't want to be walking from the airport to catch a bus.
posted by Mothlight at 8:32 AM on September 9, 2014

Yeah, though my usual preference is LGA, because of your time crunch I'd do JFK -> AirTrain -> Jamaca -> E train to Port Authority or JFK -> AirTrain -> Howard Beach -> A train to Port Authority. Traffic on the roads from either airport at that time of day will be a crapshoot at best.
posted by bedhead at 8:33 AM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

JFK -> airtrain to jamaica->LIRR if you are willing to walk 8 blocks otherwise E. LIRR will be faster.

Jamaica is faster than Howard Beach on the E to PABT.

You do not want to be trying to take a cab cross town at 5:30 on a Friday unless you really can't do public transit.

If you cant do public transit tho LGA will be closer.
posted by JPD at 8:54 AM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just want to reiterate: *do not take mass transit from LGA to the Port Authority.* No no no no no. If you fly into LGA, plan to take a cab out. The only time mass transit from LGA might work is if you're going to Morningside Heights (M60 goes from LGA and ends in Morningside Heights) and you're not in a hurry.
posted by holborne at 9:07 AM on September 9, 2014

Day of the week matters a lot. Would this be on a weekday or a weekend?

Assuming a weekday, and assuming you're okay with a ten or fifteen minute walk:

I'd fly into JFK. It's just a more reliable airport overall and the public transit options are better.

Take the Air Train from JFK to Jamaica station, and then get the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) to Penn Station. From there, it's a very straightforward walk. Easiest, fastest, most predictable, least stress.

I just looked up the train schedules, and it seems completely manageable with lots of wiggle room. You could be catching a train at Jamaica as late as 6:45PM and you'd still get to Penn Station with more than enough time to spare.

Once you arrive at Penn Station, just get above ground as quickly as possible -- the station is super byzantine and easy to get turned around in. Once you're at street level, get over to 8th avenue and walk north. This keeps you out of Times Square and makes the walking part a lot easier.

You could also get a cab from Penn Station, but honestly, walking might be faster at that time of day.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 9:15 AM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm torn between cab from LGA and AirTrain + LIRR from JFK. I wouldn't take the subway from the AirTrain, though - it's a real slog. If you go with LIRR, you can walk the 8 blocks to Port Authority from Penn Station or cab it if you are in a hurry or don't want to walk. If you take a cab from LGA, tell the cabbie to take the Triboro bridge, make a left on 2nd Ave., go crosstown on 116th, then make a left on Manhattan Ave., then downtown on Columbus.

I'd frame this as much in terms of what you shouldn't do. Don't take a cab from JFK, don't take public transit from LGA, and don't drive crosstown in Midtown (or on 125th). Probably I'd go with the JFK route, all in all, mainly because that extra half an hour gives you a little more wiggle room.
posted by breakin' the law at 9:17 AM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would say that subway is the way to go during Friday rush hour, from either airport. Google says that both are doable in the time you have, and I tend to agree. I'd use Mothlight's links and plan on taking the Q23 or Q48 bus to the 7 subway, and taking that to times square.
posted by Phredward at 9:30 AM on September 9, 2014

Definitely JFK and take the airtrain to Jamaica to the E to Port Authority. It'll take max 1.5hrs, which gives you plenty of time, and if you are even a little lucky you'll catch good transfers and it'll be just one hour.

Phredward: "I would say that subway is the way to go during Friday rush hour, from either airport."

There is no subway from LGA. You'd have to take a bus to a subway. Or a taxi. Both a bus and a taxi could be a potential nightmare on a Friday evening with traffic at rush-hour, regardless of which way you're going. Remember, people are flooding into the city for dinner and shows and stuff on Friday nights, as well as flooding out to get home from work, so rush hour isn't just a one way thing.
posted by Grither at 9:38 AM on September 9, 2014

The LIRR from Jamaica is also a good option instead of the E, if you won't have a lot of stuff and don't mind the relatively short walk.
posted by Grither at 9:39 AM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

I am a bit of a bozo when it comes to finding my way around and I can easily find my way from my gate at JFK to AirTrain. So I'd go JFK to Jamaica by AirTrain, then take the LIRR to Penn and walk to Port. If you need a snack, I'd get it at Penn rather than Port.
posted by kat518 at 10:01 AM on September 9, 2014

Not only do you have to factor in distance and time, you have to factor in room for error. If you have to take a bus and two trains etc etc, any delay will totally throw you off. So it's best to take the least complicated. JFK Airtrain to Jamaica, E train straight to Port Authority. That trip should take about an hour and some change. You'll get there in time, you won't have to worry about catching the bus on the correct side of the street, or traffic on the highway, or lugging around bags from transfer to transfer, or any of that mess. Also do some research ahead of time about how to find your gate at Port Authority because it can be a bitch, especially during rush hour.
posted by greta simone at 10:11 AM on September 9, 2014

If you fly into LGA, take a cab; public transit is slow and unreliable. If you fly into JFK, AirTrain + E train is going to mean the least walking for you.

If you need a snack, I'd get it at Penn rather than Port.

Exception: Shake Shack (if you have time).
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:30 AM on September 9, 2014

LGA is much closer, but I find the cab lines are consistently lengthy and, as mentioned above, public transit is not convenient to get to Port Authority. Anecdotally, it seems that any of my late afternoon flights into LGA have delayed landings or landings where the plane is held on the tarmac for a while before deplaning. (I believe LGA is also higher on the airport delay lists than JFK, though that stat may be outdated.)

I'd take the extra 28 min at JFK and, as suggested above, take the Airtrain to Jamaica and then either the E right to Times Sq or the LIRR to Penn, then (depending on weather and your luggage), either walk, one-stop subway or cab to Port Authority.
posted by Bailey270 at 11:42 AM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Agreeing with everyone suggesting landing in JFK and taking the Airtrain to the LIRR at Jamaica to Penn Station, then walking/cabbing/subway-ing it to Port Authority. The LIRR is significantly faster than the E train getting to Manhattan.
posted by black_lizard at 11:45 AM on September 9, 2014

Also, just an FYI: you can technically take the subway one stop from Penn Station to 42nd Street (Times Square), which connects with Port Authority via underground tunnels, those tunnels are long and confusing and involve a lot of stairways to haul your luggage up. Walking would almost definitely be faster.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 11:51 AM on September 9, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks all. Very helpful. JFK booked.
posted by miles1972 at 11:59 AM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Coming in too late...if you had the option of flying to Newark it would have been your best.
posted by brujita at 4:57 PM on September 9, 2014

For all those scared of the bus from LGA, I've taken it several times in the past year after a long history of being scared to death of it and all the dumb local stops on the old Q33 line. It used to be annoying sharing luggage space with local riders. Turns, out the (new) Q70 is super easy and convenient as it only stops at the airport and the subway now. It stops once at terminals B, C and D, and then goes direct to the E, F, M, R.

I'm too late, but I'd probably fly into JFK take the Airtrain (Jamaica) to the E train in your case mostly because LGA is crowded with air traffic, and I wouldn't be surprised if you had a 30 minute holding pattern to land. Luckily on a flight from Canada, it won't likely be cancelled, but one weekend last year flying from Rochester, I had 3 different flights to LGA cancelled because of congestion.
posted by yeti at 8:55 AM on September 10, 2014

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