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JFK is one of New York’s most prominent Airports. Located in Queens, not that far from Manhattan, and boasting half a dozen terminals, JFK serves millions of passengers every single year. But its size and prominence doesn’t make it any less problematic to maneuver. Airport travel is a hassle for most people. In fact, most people would rather avoid airports altogether. In this quick post, you can find 10 tips from a New Yorker on how to improve JFK airport travel experience.

They are messy, crowded places with long lines, impatient people, sometimes rude staff, so what is there to like except that it’s one step closer to helping you get away. Unfortunately, airports are an essential component of life when your life includes travel. So, basically, you have to learn to make the best of your situation. Hopefully, this information will help you to navigate JFK smarter so that you are less traumatized by the experience.

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What You Can Do to Improve Your Experience at JFK International Airport

This is the issue many New Yorkers ponder on a regular basis. JFK is not a bad airport, but even the most alluring JFK Discounted Parking offers won’t make your time spent there any less irritating or palatable. Is there anything that would?

We hope to improve your experience, to overcome (or lessen) most of the obstacles, as you transition through the Airport’s many checkpoints without losing your mind! Think we can do it? Well, consider some of these tips:

1. Timing

Timing is everything, haven’t you heard? You want to make sure to arrive at least two hours before your flight (sometimes even earlier if you are traveling internationally). But, that being said, make sure to check your flight before you go.

JFK Airport and most airline sites will post delays/cancellations. Why spend the night in the airport?

If you’ve checked out of your hotel already and your flight is delayed just a couple of hours you can easily find luggage storage in NYC so you can go see the sights and not have to carry your bags with you. 

Note: Don’t forget to “check-in” online in advance on your airline’s website. Will save you one extra step before your arrival.

Also, some airlines will close their gates for certain flights if you are not there in advance. There’s nothing worse than having to change your flight last minute at the airport.

You can’t imagine the fees, time and stress that it will cost you. Better to arrive in plenty of time to get through baggage, security, reaching your gate, etc. – Better to be safe than sorry. 

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2. Cars

People think that cars are convenient but this isn’t always the case in New York City. Traffic is simply too unpredictable. It isn’t that unheard of for travelers to miss their flights because they couldn’t get to JFK on time.

For that reason, you are better of using a car service rather than actually driving to the Airport. A personal car is like an oasis. You simply can’t abandon it on the side of the road because you’re running late and traffic has refused to let up.

Car services/taxis provide a great convenience, for a price, for getting in and out of JFK. Since many don’t have the option of simply walking to your destination, unless you’re staying somewhere just a few minutes away from the airport (there are many hotels nearby), sometimes it’s better to pay extra for your sanity, I mean convenience. 

Shuttle services are also available, such as The Blue Van – Super Shuttle and, oftentimes, cost less than a private car. It depends on whether you are traveling alone and/or your destination. Remember: You will need to add more travel time since many shuttles are not private but shared rides (your time needs to account for the many drop-offs or pickups they’ll make).

Bottom line: Do not drive to JFK. You will probably regret it.

3. Parking

if you still prefer to drive, consider your parking options. If you intend to fly out of JFK, then you have to leave your car somewhere for the duration of your trip.

JFK Parking isn’t cheap. And it isn’t always as easy to access as some people presume, especially if you attempt to secure a last-minute parking spot.

This is why you should consider Parkos.com, especially for your Long Term Parking JFK needs.

The company will find you a secure spot near the airport at affordable parking rates. You can even make your bookings ahead of time. In fact, it is encouraged.

Just visit the portal and browse through the litany of parking options available. The primary draw of this service are the low prices and convenience, and they cater to clients looking for short or long term parking.

JFK is such a large airport (having served thirty million passengers in previous years alone). The demand for parking is real(!), so no surprise that a number of entrepreneurs have arisen to fill this gap. I recommend Parkos, based on my previous experiences. Best to save yourself the worry about parking.

Suggested reading: Where to find the best pizza in Manhattan?

24 hours in NYC- A one day itinerary for New York City written by a New Yorker

4. Public Transportation

If you want to really save some money, and don’t mind lugging your luggage around, then I recommend that you consider New York City’s public transportation options. There are both buses and subways (or a combination of the two) that will get you to JFK and other NYC airports. The MTA has a great site outlining the different options. I especially recommend the “Trip Planner” link (in the last column) which allows you to specify your location and provides various travel options for you, along with an estimated travel time. It’s usually pretty accurate, barring any unforeseen problems.

5. Money

Money is a very important consideration for anyone looking to transition through JFK. Not just the money to buy your ticket but any additional things you may want along the way (snacks, gifts, etc.).

You need to take a moment to do research. Find out if there are baggage fees that must be paid, or taxes that need to be cleared; avoid last minute surprises. You don’t want to delay your movement through JFK just because you don’t have the money on hand to meet some unexpected charge/fee. While there are ATMs at the airport, there can be extra fees incurred when used.

You can find out about most of the charges you will encounter at JFK on their site and/or your airline’s website.

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A few TIPS for saving money:

Everything is more expensive at the airport. For example, a bottle of water can cost you $4-5 (when you’d normally pay $1-2). Carry a collapsible water bottle, and you can fill it up at the water fountain for free). The Airport is not the place to shop for souvenirs. You will pay 5 times more there than anywhere else. Same goes for gum or snacks, books or magazines, alcohol, food, etc. Nowadays, airlines don’t even feed you. Buying a few snacks to bring with you may make all of the difference to your pocket. Just be mindful and save your money for more important spending.

Looking for other ways to save money? Book your flight for less by using Skyscanner. I truly love their anywhere tool, especially when I am flexible on where to go. I love exploring new places.

I also, enjoy carrying with me a portable wifi device such as Tep wireless, since it keeps me connected at all times.

Recommended: Where to shop in NYC on a budget?

6. Organization

Organization is critical. It isn’t enough for you to account for every single item you need at the airport. You need to make sure that all of your things are conveniently stored. You don’t want to comb through several layers of luggage at a checkpoint looking for your boarding pass or passport while other travelers behind you get impatient.

At the very least, make sure that your essentials (passport and ticket) are easily accessible. There are great travel organizers available to hold these items, and more (such as money, credit cards or important papers). Some are even coated to block identity theft. Just food for thought.

If you have medication, keep it in a bag that you can carry on with you. The same goes for any combs, toothbrushes and/or electronics that you might want/need as you transition through the Airport.

Also, learn your flight number. Sometimes gates can change last minute so it’s important to stay alert and periodically check the departure/arrival information.

7. Branding

Everyone understands the importance of labeling their luggage before sending it off onto the plane. However, you also have to find a way to make your belongings ‘stand out’ besides simply attaching luggage tags.

Some people buy suitcases in very distinct colors or patterns. Others wrap bright strips of cloth around the handles of their bags. I’ve even seen small pom poms attached to some.

Whatever you choose to do, it might look silly, possibly even embarrassing, but it will make the locating of your luggage a whole lot easier. Think outside the box. Stamp your brand on your things in a manner that will enable you to find it right away as it goes around on the conveyor belt.

Another favorite: Where to eat the best cheesecake in New York City

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8. Baggage Limits

This goes without saying. You need to figure out beforehand the limits JFK and/or your airline places on baggage (especially for carry on luggage). This also includes determining which items are banned. You do not want to encounter scenarios in which you are forced to either discard your belongings or cough up more money because you exceeded the baggage limit. In fact, consider buying a portable luggage scale so that you can weight your items in advance to avoid problems at the airport.

It is incidents like these which can quickly turn a pleasant Airport experience into a disaster. Who needs the added stress? 

9. Clothing

Most people want to look good, especially when they are traveling, so why should JFK International Airport be any different? However, if your goal is to make your airport experience as pleasant as possible, make an effort to dress with comfort in mind.

Avoid uncomfortable heels, tight clothing, complicated belts or anything that will slow your progress through the airport. Sometimes it’s a longer walk to your terminal than expected. Stay loose and relaxed. Remember, there are bathrooms all over the place, so you can always change before boarding and/or immediately following landing and touch up your make up, hair, etc., later.

10. If all else fails, at least try to keep smiling no matter what happens

You would be surprised how much further you can get with a smile versus a grimace. It will also be a much more pleasant experience if you just remember to keep your temper in check and be polite at all times. I’ve been traveling since childhood but it’s only been in the past few years that I’ve seen people kept off lines or ejected by security, or worse, for losing their cool. Hard to travel if you get banned by the airport and/or airline.

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Hope that we’ve helped you to ‘know before you go!’

Ultimately, you can’t plan for everything. Even the best-prepared travelers face challenges at the airport. That being said, pre-planning will decrease your chances of encountering obstacles at JFK. 

Take the time to learn the rules, including knowing which items security will permit and what they might reject. Dress comfortably, prepare for any additional airport fees, and think about parking and travel to/from the airport beforehand.

If you can do all of this and more, you might actually have a more pleasant, stress free JFK Airport Travel experience.

Looking for more posts about New York City? Read on.

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