The last time I flew into JFK, I took the "free" AirTrain from the terminal out to the subway. I was rather surprised and annoyed, on getting to the subway transfer, to discover that it wasn't free after all. Between terminals is free, but to transfer to the subway you had to pay a special exit fee of $5. Only after that could you then buy your subway ticket, and head into town. By the time I was at the subway station, it was too late to change plans, so I had to grudgingly pay. They kept this very quiet until you got to the end, and it was too late to change your plans!

For my next trip, I should have more time (I land mid-afternoon, but I'm not meeting friends until after work). I know that with other airports with high charges for the public transport connection, there's often a hidden way to avoid it that locals know. (In Sydney for example, there's a bus that'll take you a couple of miles to a normal railway station, or you can walk just over a mile to another one).

What I'm wondering is if there's something like that for JFK? I'm aiming to get to either lower Manhattan, or Brooklyn Heights. Can I get either to a subway station, or all the way down to somewhere like that, without having to pay the airtrain exit fee? (The subway from out by the airport to Brooklyn/Manhattan is only $2.25, and the current airtrain exit fee is an extra $5, so anything involving private buses/shuttles will likely work out much more!)

8 Answers 8


There is no safe way, as there is a high fence that bars access from the long-term parking lot.

To save money, I would take the Q10 bus from terminal 5 and transfer to the A train at Lefferts Blvd or the F train at Kew Gardens.

There are other buses (B15 to the 3 Train at New Lots, Q3 to Locust Manor LIRR or F Train at Jamaica), but I am not familiar with them.

  • Thanks for this! This is the best option I found to avoid the $5 AirTrain fee, which adds up if you travel often at JFK. Some notes: It'll probably add 15-25 minutes to your normal AirTrain commute. Also, you'll have to wait for the bus outside, so if it's cold beware.
    – Steve
    Commented Mar 6, 2016 at 22:08
  • This answer used to be correct, but as of a few years later, the Q10 bus does not go to the terminals anymore. Instead, take the Airtrain Howard Beach line to "Lefferts Boulevard - Long Term parking". It's still free. The exit fee is only at Howard Beach and Jamaica stations, $8.25 as of this writing. Transfer at Lefferts Blvd to Q10Ltd or Q3 or B15 buses. If you're not paying for the Airtrain, don't get the old Metrocard at all. Use the new Omny to pay $2.90 for the bus instead, and get a free transfer for the subway. Commented Aug 19, 2023 at 23:01

The $5 surcharge of the AirTran is only collected at the terminal stops, so when transferring to the Subway or entering the airport. If you're looking to avoid that charge, you can take the AirTran to the car rental exit (at no cost) and hop on the free shuttle bus to Jamaica station. There you can take the E, J or Z which serve southwestern Queens, Brooklyn and lower Manhattan, the LIRR is also at this station for those interested. That shuttle bus has two stops: Jamaica station and Federal Circle Rental Cars stop, so you don't have to worry about missing the right stop or if your bus is going in the right direction, etc.

JFK is horribly designed in that it's not optimized for pedestrians, this way minimizes you having to navigate through the maze.

  • 3
    What does the free car rental <-> Jamaica bus look like? (I've not spotted it before)
    – Gagravarr
    Commented Nov 8, 2015 at 17:28
  • It looks like a typical MTA bus but I did notice that there was a luggage storage space in the bus. The front of the bus (where the route is located) should say that it's a shuttle bus.
    – sashak007
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 16:56
  • If you manage to snap a photo of the front of the bust on your next trip, that'd be very handy!
    – Gagravarr
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 17:00
  • See related question: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/63814/…
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 15:25
  • @Gagravarr youtube.com/watch?v=bXbKkFS_vcc Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 22:56

Yes, it's totally doable, I walked it on Friday night from Howard Beach subway-A to Airtrain Lefferts Boulevard: ~30min. Nice Christmas houses at Howard Beach, but:

It's much quicker to step down at Aqueduct/Conduit subway-A and walk to Airtrain Lefferts Boulevard. ~20min walking which saves the $5. Depending on the Airtrain/Subway frequency, that might be worth it.

I don't consider it unsafe, just a sidewalk next to a moderate speed way. A little narrow on the bridge entering the airport, but still good to me.

Here are the walking instructions.


In addition to what Choster has described there may be a way to do it without the transfer from Bus to Subway.

There is a long term parking adjacent to the Lefferts Blvd Airtran station and Howard Beach A train station. This used to be serviced by the free shuttle for all the terminals though it was running not as often as others. So if you take that shuttle to Long Term Parking Lot C you could just walk to the Howard Beach A train. One thing to check is whether or not this shuttle runs to the terminal it's possible this was changed it's possible the route is only within the long term lots.

P.S. Personally I try to avoid JFK like a plague

  • 1
    My information may be dated, but to my knowledge all parking shuttle buses ended when the AirTrain was opened, except for when AirTrain is closed for maintenance. Again, there is a fence separating the long-term lots from the subway station and the exit is on the far side from the subway station, so I would not recommend attempting the walk.
    – choster
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 17:05
  • @choster According to the map there is a shuttle running on the Long Term Parking. The problem is that I am not sure that these run to the terminal still. Walking 4 miles to the long term parking would be crazy although there are entrances to the parking at least those for the cars that you won't have to climb the fence.
    – Karlson
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 18:12
  • 1
    @choster Personally I'd spend $13 for the shuttle to take me to Manhattan then spend 1+ hours trying to use the AirTrain/Parking Shuttle/Subway.
    – Karlson
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 18:19
  • What airport would you recommend over JFK? Commented Nov 30, 2012 at 23:54
  • 2
    @JamesMohler Newark. 30 minutes by bus from Port Authority. 40 if traffic is bad.
    – Karlson
    Commented Dec 1, 2012 at 2:34

When leaving JFK, get the free Airtrain shuttle to the Lefferts Blvd station stop then get off and get the Q10 bus to Ozone Park Lefferts Blvd subway station where you can get the A train to the city. Transfers are free between bus and subway when you use a metro card. Do the reverse to get to the airport.

  • @choster says there is a high fence blocking access at Lefferts Blvd. Does the fence block access to only the A subway and not the Q10?
    – dbasch
    Commented Dec 7, 2014 at 21:08
  • The Q10Ltd last stop is right downstairs from the Lefferts Blvd Airtrain. There are lots of signs pointing to it, no fences. The exit is free. The A train is at the next Airtrain stop, Howard Beach. There is a fence there, intended to make you pay. Commented Aug 19, 2023 at 23:09

You need to make sure that you have a metro card as you can not buy one at Hudson’s or any outlet in JFK. Take the Q10 Bus from T5 going to Kew Gardens union TPK Station.Get off Lefferts Blvd and Cuthbert Rd. From here you can catch the A or C train into Manhattan. If you didn’t have a metro card pay 2.75 on the bus so make sure you have change. This is time consuming but it helps to avoid the Airtrain fee

  • The Q10 no longer goes to the terminals, unfortunately. But you can take the Airtrain to "Lefferts Blvd - Long term parking", exit is still free, and take the Q10Ltd, Q3, or B15 buses, and transfer for free to the subway. Don't get the old Metrocard. Use the new Omny instead. Commented Aug 19, 2023 at 23:14

Just feel like it needs to be stated here that an able and slightly intrepid traveler should also just be able to WALK from the 'Lefferts Blvd' station (the one right before 'Howard Beach') to to regular subway. It's about 20 minutes to the 'Aqueduct/Conduit' station or closer to 30 to 'Howard Beach'. Google maps will show the directions. It's not glamorous, but it's doable.

  • 4
    The accepted answer says that there's a high fence between the long term parking lot and the station which prevents you walking round. Have you done what you've suggested and found it worked? Can you clarify why it works when the top answer suggests otherwise?
    – Gagravarr
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 19:42

The best way to save money is going to Terminal 5, take the Q10 LTD bus (Or Local, it's just slower), and then transfer to A Train or E,F Train. Since there is a free transfer for travels less than two hour, you will only have to pay $2.75 in total.

  • It's $2.90 now. Commented Aug 19, 2023 at 23:11

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .