The map indicates there are two routes from Manhattan to JFK:

  1. E-Train to Jamaica Center, then transfer to AirTrain to JFK
  2. A-Train to to Howard Beach, then transfer to AirTrain to JFK

My reading indicated that when coming from the east side of Central Park (UES) to take the first route.

Is there an advantage to taking the first route over the second route? If you have experience traversing the route, please indicate this in your response and any lessons-learned.

Update: my entry point is #6 train at 77th Station

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  • You could get a reasonable estimate by counting the number of stops along each route. The A train route has way more. Jan 2, 2017 at 19:10

3 Answers 3


From the Upper East Side...

  1. Take the 6 to 51st Street.
  2. Walk the tunnel to the Lexington Ave/53rd St station
  3. Take a Queens bound E to Sutphin Blvd/JFK
  4. Walk across the LIRR station to the JFK AirTrain*
  5. Ride the AirTrain to your terminal.

*You can do this either at street level by taking the escalator or on the LIRR Mezzanine by taking the elevator. But, the AirTrain station is literally on the other side of the LIRR tracks from the Subway. They are technically three different stations (though someone will doubtlessly quibble the AirTrain is actually a terminal). You must exit the Subway to get to either the AirTrain or LIRR.

Side note, if you're coming from Midtown during rush hour, especially in the afternoon, the F is noticeable less crowded leaving Manhattan. You just have to transfer to the E at Kew Gardens.

I've done all of these, many times.

  • Once one is in the 6, are there elevators to accommodate all changes in elevation or will steps need to be negotiated? I ask because this would shape how much luggage one could bring: especially if luggage has to be lugged many flights of step
    – gatorback
    Feb 15, 2017 at 4:06
  • @gatorback According to MTA, yes. But this is something I have not had to notice. web.mta.info/accessibility/stations.htm#manhattan
    – DTRT
    Feb 15, 2017 at 12:53

The E train tends to be faster in my experience. This will be especially true coming from the upper east side, where you can get the E train at 53rd Street and Lexington Avenue.

If you have a few dollars to spare and can get to Penn Station relatively easily, take the Long Island Rail Road to Jamaica instead. It's quite a bit faster.

Check your trip using the trip planner at www.mta.info, and using Google maps; these are both fairly accurate, but for a flight you should assume that your trip will require at least 20 minutes more than indicated.

  • +1 for the E train, less complicated and faster by fiat. You may want to revisit this answer when the 2nd Ave train is completed.
    – Gayot Fow
    Jan 2, 2017 at 4:28
  • 1
    By Fiat? Any particular model? I know they own Ferrari now so this might not be that unreasonable. =) Jan 2, 2017 at 4:59
  • 1
    @GayotFow as far as I know the Second Avenue subway is open. Travelers on 2nd Ave can take it to 63rd Street where they can get the F to Queens; the F uses the same line as the E for much of its run, so the transfer between those trains is simple. Even with the extra transfer, this is going to be faster than any itinerary involving the A.
    – phoog
    Jan 2, 2017 at 12:13
  • I have used the 2nd avenue subway last week: very nice. Is the idea to Transform from the F to the E where they share stations?
    – gatorback
    Feb 16, 2017 at 18:58
  • @gatorback yes. Take the Q to Lexington Ave and 63rd St. There, transfer to the F bound for Jamaica (Queens). I haven't been in that station since the Q started serving it, but I believe that if you're coming from the upper east side, you will need to go to the other platform. Take the F to Jackson Heights Roosevelt Ave, where you can transfer to the E on the same track.
    – phoog
    Feb 16, 2017 at 20:03

The E train will be about 10-25 mins faster depends what time you're taking it. The A trains is taking forever to get to JFK when you reach Brooklyn. The E is way quicker and your transfer to AirTrain will be approximately the same as if you took the A train.

  • +1 for the E train. The logical choice from anywhere in mid-town.
    – Gayot Fow
    Jan 2, 2017 at 4:29
  • yes, it's makes 1-2 stops from Central Park/UES and you are in Queens in no time. Form Queens to JFK it goes pretty quick.
    – k1rushqa
    Jan 2, 2017 at 4:46

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