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I'm planning a trip to NYC in a month from now, and was looking for a taxi from JFK to Manhattan.

I've read that there's a queue for taxi in every terminal.

How does it work?
How can I recognize it?
How can I recognize a legit taxi?
How much will it cost to take the taxi from JFK to Manhattan? Is there a fixed fare?

  • Note that Uber is available at JFK as well. – JonathanReez Apr 12 '16 at 10:27
  • I think Uber might actually be more expensive than a yellow cab from JFK due to the fixed rate. Another alternative which I've taken is a bus. $30 return to central station, port authority, penn.nycairporter.com – Berwyn Jun 7 '16 at 5:24
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How does it work?

You go and stay in the queue for the taxi, usually just outside the terminal. When it's your turn, you get inside the taxi and tell the driver your destination. And than you ride in (sometimes smelly) taxi for a while (for a long while) and eventually you get to your destination.

How can I recognize it?

You won't miss it. There will be signs with directions, as well as the sign where the queue starts. Also, there is usually quite a lot of people queuing for the taxi.

How can I recognize a legit taxi?

Although it never happened to me, some people may ask you if you need a taxi INSIDE the airport terminal. Avoid them, they are not legit. Head to the exit, search for a man or a woman with a little printer and dressed in uniform. (credits to @Napolux for the information)

Once you are in official taxi queue you don't really have to worry about taxi being legit, but you can still check taxi medallion. It will look similar to this and will be attached to the bonnet (aka hood if you are American) of the car. Additionally, there will be numbers inside of the taxi.

NYC taxi medallion

You can check the number here: http://www.nyc.gov/html/tlc_medallion_info/html/tlc_lookup.shtml

How much will it cost to take the taxi from JFK to Manhattan? Is there a fixed fare?

There is a fixed fare, JKF to Manhattan is $52 + tolls + tips. Payable by card or cash.

  • @MichaelHampton I think it's somewhere on the bonnet, but I'm was not sure about it so I did not add it to the answer. Quick Google image search confirms it's indeed on the bonnet: yellowcabnyctaxi.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/… – rvs Apr 11 '16 at 20:44
  • @MichaelHampton duh, of course, they had to use different word! One more edit (sorry moderators!) – rvs Apr 11 '16 at 20:47
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    Back from NYC. This is the correct answer. Let me just add that many people will ask you if you need a taxi INSIDE the airport terminal. Avoid them, they are not legit. Head to the exit, search for a man or a woman with a little printer and dressed in uniform. You'll receive a recipt and you'll be headed to the next free taxi. – Napolux Jun 5 '16 at 18:15
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    @Napolux interesting. I've heard about it but than never happened to me. Thanks for addition, I'll update my answer. – rvs Jun 6 '16 at 20:49
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To answer your questions:

How does it work? Leave the arrivals terminal and the taxi ranks are opposite the doors. You will see signs for taxis clearly inside and outside of the terminal. Queue and wait your turn. There is usually a representative for the airport or someone official at the head of the queue asking you where your destination is.

How can I recognize it? There is a queue of people with luggage on the opposite side of the road with a steady stream of yellow taxis flowing into the bay. Only taxis and buses are allowed to enter this part of the airport.

How can I recognize a legit taxi? They're usually yellow in colour. Only legit taxis are allowed here.

How much will it cost to take the taxi from JFK to Manhattan? Is there a fixed fare? There is a fixed fare to Manhattan. $52 plus tolls, tax and tip. Other destinations are usually on the meter.

I would like to add some points that have yet to be mentioned.

  • Dont accept an offer for a taxi inside the arrivals lounge (gypsy cab). They're always people touting for business in the airport. This is illegal. A polite no will deter them. They are not very demanding so dont worry about them.
  • There is almost always a representative from the airport or NYTA at the head of the queue asking you where you want to go when its your turn next. They are legitimate workers helping people who are lost. They may also help with luggage.
  • If your destination is not Manhattan always have your destination address and a fair understanding where it is in relation to New York. NY taxi drivers are not like London cabbies and don't have 'the knowledge' of the city. My first time I did not know where we were going and the driver got lost and took the long way to my destination. If you are going to Manhattan and are on the grid you will be fine.
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You should read the information on the Port Authority Website with regards to your question.

The only taxis that are allowed to pick up at the JFK airport are NYC T&LC's Yellow Taxis, so look for them. Normally you would see a "Taxi" stand with a booth outside the terminal and a line of taxis there.

  • It is also legal to have an arranged pickup by a TLC-licensed car service. Drivers typically hold a sign with the name of the person they're picking up. Hanging around in the same place, you'll find people without signs offering rides. This is not legal, even if the driver and car are licensed by the Taxi and Limousine Commission. – phoog Apr 11 '16 at 15:32
  • Sure. But that would be a black car or a Limo. – Karlson Apr 11 '16 at 15:34
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    That's a distinction that would be lost on many people. In fact, if you take it far enough, it becomes tautological: you cannot get a ride from a taxi other than a NYC yellow taxi because anyone else picking you up at the airport isn't a NYC yellow taxi. – phoog Apr 11 '16 at 15:36
  • Legally that is. – Karlson Apr 11 '16 at 15:38
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    In many parts of the city (probably a large majority of the city's territory, in fact), you can really only call by phone for a cab (ignoring newfangled technology like Uber). The fact that this is formally known as a "community car service" doesn't stop people from calling the cars, among other things, "taxis" or "cabs." The terminology is relatively unimportant. It's more important to know what's legal and what's not, and the appearance of the vehicle is a better indication of that than vocabulary. – phoog Apr 12 '16 at 23:21

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