I pity the fool that doesn't take the AirTrain to JFK from Hoboken

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I was gearing up for a new trip to London - a city I haven't been to in about 30 years - when a friend texted me, "I heard you were taking Uber to JFK - take the AirTrain. It's fast and not expensive."

Up until this point my method to get to JFK was taking the PATH into Christopher Street and then getting a flat rate yellow cab ($52 plus tip and tolls which can be about $65) from the city to JFK. While not perfect, it saved money for the tunnel and extra fare that Uber charged - a ride from Uber from Hoboken during rush hour was around $85 and would take 45-60m depending on traffic.

I was a bit intimitated by the AirTrain. When you have to catch a flight, I dreaded the idea of trying a new way to get to JFK, I was unfamiliar with it - and hated the thought of rushing to the gate because I was late.

My flight was for 9:45pm. It was an overnight flight and I was home from work around 5pm. I decided to leave Hoboken at 5:15 and give it a shot. I had plenty of time to test it out. 

My first step was taking the PATH to 33rd. This is easy, and if you lived in Hoboken for more than a month, i'm sure you have done this already. Total cost was $2.75.

Next, I walked to MSG and went to the LIRR. I bought a ticket to Jamaica Station. If you didn't know (and I only learned this), almost every train from Penn Station going to Long Island/Queens stops through Jamaica Station, except Port Washington. Trains are leaving every 10-15m during rush hour. It's ridiculously easy, and they have a billion or so people standing around that you can ask which track to take. Total cost, because it was rush hour, was $10.25. 

Last switch was at Jamaica Station. They have 50 signs everywhere saying "AirTrain" you would be blind to miss it. It's literally part of the station, up the stairs. You take the AirTrain Red which takes about 20 minutes to get to JFK, and has a station stop for each terminal. Total cost was $5, no matter what time of the day. Bring a metrocard.

For rush hour it cost me $18. It took me about 90 minutes, and was at the airport just before 7pm. 

Getting home, I returned on a Sunday during non-rush hour. AirTrain back to Jamaica was the same. Jamaica to Penn was a bit longer, I waited about 30 minutes for a train to show up, but the cost was only $4.25 since it was off-peak. My connection at the PATH was quick, I was lucky that the train showed up just as I walked into the station. All in all, it only took me 90 minutes to get back, even with the delayed train at Jamaica Station, and total cost was $12. 

The verdict? You would be a fool (or rich) to not take the Airtrain. Saving $74 over UberX? It's a no-brainer unless you are taking a tremendous amount of luggage. I was able to pack for a 9-day trip to London with a carry-on bag and a messenger bag which I put into the overhead compartments on the flight. Saved me a lot of time not having to wait for luggage. 

Hope this helps you on your next flight.

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This page contains a single entry by Furey published on January 8, 2018 7:09 AM.

How I Would Fix Hoboken: Parking was the previous entry in this blog.

We are the champions, my friends. is the next entry in this blog.

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