Can I get out of NYC via Newark today?
September 2, 2021 4:30 AM   Subscribe

I'm supposed to fly out of Newark airport at 4:30pm today via United. I was planning to travel there via subway and NJ Transit from Manhattan. What's the best way to get to the airport? How can I tell how likely my flight is to leave before I travel there? What should I do?

I'd been keeping an eye on the storm, and woke this morning to a lot of very concerning news. Subway lines are shut down or delayed. NJ Transit service is suspended. Newark has experienced severe flooding and had a lot of extreme delays as well as cancellations last night. I'm overwhelmed looking at different options and trying to understand what I should do.

How can I figure out the likelihood of my flight getting out the airport tonight? How can I get to the airport? If this method of travel is not going to work today, what's the best way to think about backup options - should I be looking at rescheduling my flight out of somewhere else that's easier to get to? In short, how can I get to where I need to go?

*For various complicated reasons, I would strongly prefer not to have to cancel or reschedule this very important trip! (For reference, I've also been taking all the COVID precautions I can short of staying put: I'm vaccinated, have been isolated for the past ten days aside from testing, have tested twice, am planning to test again on arrival.) I've seen some guidance from early this morning that says "if you do not have to travel, please don't" - because of the circumstances around this trip, this does seem like "have to travel", but if I'm going to end up stuck on a subway or train or tarmac I want to figure out alternative travel plans if possible.
posted by earth by april to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (12 answers total)
There are busses from Port Authority to Newark Airport, Newark Airport Express (hourly) and Transbridge (a commuter bus that goes to Doylestown PA). After Sandy, they were running via surface roads when the subways and tunnels were still shut.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 4:45 AM on September 2, 2021

You should do some due diligence and call your airline and make sure your flight has net been cancelled. After that, the PATH train does appear to be running with some modifications, and there are shuttle busses from various companies, including Coach, so if you can look on their respective websites and or call ahead that will be your best bet. It’s not going to be particularly easy to travel today, but if you plan ahead it will be doable if this is what you want. If this is too much hassle for you right now, you can always call the airline and push your flight plans off until tomorrow. Best of luck to you!
posted by Champagne Supernova at 4:46 AM on September 2, 2021

A cab is your backup option, but those shuttles should be fine.

Really depends where you are flying? Are you flying to and from a place United has hubs, you may be delayed since flights last night and today got pushed back. I’m flying from JFK today actually and am not too worried (different circumstances but also planning on taking a 4 month baby with me)
posted by sandmanwv at 4:54 AM on September 2, 2021

Are you flying to and from a place United has hubs

Newark is a United hub (it was an Continental hub pre-merger).
posted by hoyland at 5:28 AM on September 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

So - the worst of the storm passed over the city at about 1-2 am. This morning the city started getting to work on clearing things up - and because capitalism, they're going to focus on clearing up the major travel routes first, then the major business areas, and then the richer neighborhoods. What this means for you is that there should be SOME way for you to get to the airport in time for your flight, but there is a non-zero chance you wouldn't be able to use the subways.

What I would do is this:

1. Figure out how long it would take you to get to the airport under normal conditions, and then double it. Assume that is going to be your travel time to the airport. So, assuming that usually it would have taken you an hour to get to the airport, you're going to now assume it takes two hours. That will give you a "time I need to leave for the airport" (since you probably need to allow the hour for check-in, let's assume you need to be at the airport by 3:30, so with that two-hour travel time you would need to leave for the airport at 1:30; adjust for your own circumstance, of course).

2. Starting an hour or two before the "I need to leave for the airport" deadline (so, say at about noon for an "I need to leave by 1:30" situation), start monitoring the plane schedule, and the subway situation. The MTA's service updates are here, and New Jersey Transit status updates are here. This will give you a) information about whether the plane is flying, and b) advice about whether your subway/NJ Transit plan is even going to be feasible, and it will give you that information in enough time to find a cab. (Of course, if you see that your plane is delayed or cancelled, adjust your "need to leave for the airport" deadline accordingly.)

3. If it's down to like a half hour before your "leave for the airport" deadline and you're still seeing "the subways and New Jersey Transit are down" alerts, give up and call an Uber or get a cab. You'll be allowing plenty of time for the cab to get you there, so even if the cab does hit some traffic you'll still make it. It'll be spendy, but it will get you there on time, and that peace of mind is worth the tradeoff.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:22 AM on September 2, 2021 [4 favorites]

Worse still, this Twitter thread depicts a Newark airport that is a scene of near-chaos and trapped and frightened/frustrated people.

that twitter thread depicts someone losing their shit in a completely disproportionate way, live-tweeting their ultra-and-over-panicked thoughts.
posted by lalochezia at 6:54 AM on September 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

Go to the app Flight Aware. Find out where your plane is coming in from. See if it is still scheduled and on time. If your plane is coming in, you are very likely to be going out.
posted by AugustWest at 6:58 AM on September 2, 2021 [4 favorites]

that twitter thread depicts someone losing their shit in a completely disproportionate way, live-tweeting their ultra-and-over-panicked thoughts.

Did you actually read the thread? I thought it was pretty measured for someone sitting on a plane with no power for 4.5 hours.
posted by FencingGal at 7:22 AM on September 2, 2021 [4 favorites]

Step one in these situations is always to call your airline to find out what the status of your flight is and potentially discuss re-booking options if necessary. For United the number is +1 800-864-8331. They've mostly resumed operations at EWR -- those Twitter links upthread don't reflect current conditions.

If you can't speak to anybody, check online -- here's the status checker for United.

Olympia Trails runs the Newark Airport Express bus. Here's the current schedule and pickup locations with a link for buying tickets. Coming from Manhattan I might just spring for a taxi, though, if you can swing it.
posted by theory at 9:13 AM on September 2, 2021

United seems to have departures back on the board. Flights to Vegas, Tel Aviv, Palm Beach, LA, and San Francisco are listed as still happening. Cross-checking against United, it looks like Vegas has a 19 minute delay, Tel Aviv, Palm Beach, and LA are still projected to be on time, but San Francisco has a 2 hour 50 minute delay up.

Best of luck and safe travels.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:07 PM on September 2, 2021

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