Which New York Airport Is Best To Fly Into?

New York is a bustling metropolitan city, with three major airports servicing the area. Two are international airports while the third operates primarily short- and medium-haul flights. These three airports are New York-JFK, Newark Liberty, and LaGuardia airport. All three have their strengths and weaknesses. So, which one is the best to fly into?

Airport operations
New York has three main airports that serve passengers. Photo: Dennis Jarvis via Flickr

JFK airport

When most people think of a New York airport, JFK comes to mind. This conjures up images of a crowded airport with long delays, aging terminals, and a logistical nightmare given the sheer number of passengers the airport serves. Although, some of JFK’s terminals are getting some upgrades and realignment.

JFK
JFK from the sky. Photo: Brandon Van Acker via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re looking to fly internationally on a variety of airlines (including some quirky ones), JFK is your go-to airport. Connections at JFK can be a bit cumbersome as you’ll likely have to take a train to transfer from one terminal to the next. At other airports like Atlanta, you’ll have more transfer options since the terminals are connected airside and you can choose to walk or take a train.

Newark Liberty

United operates a hub out of Newark Liberty. This is one of the largest hubs in their system and they operate a fair number of routes giving the possibility for lots of connections. However, Newark’s Liberty Airport is actually located in New Jersey. Some people may find this to be a harder to reach airport and may choose to avoid it. In addition, Newark is heavily disliked. Bloomberg reports that in 2019, Newark Liberty was the worst major U.S. airport in a survey.

Newark Airport
Newark Liberty is the worst-ranked American airport. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Newark also does not offer a lot of competition. United has a major market share of passengers flying in and out of the airport. This means that if you’re looking for other airlines to take you in and out of New York, you’ll likely find JFK or LaGuardia to be a better fit.

LaGuardia Airport

LaGuardia primarily serves short- and medium-haul flights. This is perfect if you’re traveling domestically. Also, LaGuardia is much closer to places like Times Square than the other airports. If you’re looking to save money on a taxi or Uber, LaGuardia is your best bet. Since LaGuardia is also smaller than the other two airports, you’ll have a little less walking to do since the airport is not as complex as others.

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LGA
LaGuardia Airport. Photo: Eric Salard via Flickr

LaGuardia, however, hasn’t been the most popular with passengers either. Former Vice President Joe Biden once likened the aging airport to a “third-world country”. Indeed, when compared to some airports in the Middle East and East Asia, LaGuardia severely lacks appeal and thoughtful design. On the other hand, Governor Cuomo announced a few years ago that LaGuardia is getting a major revamp.

Overall

The best airport for you in New York depends on your preferences. If you’re looking for international connections across multiple airlines, then JFK is a good choice. For those who are Star Alliance fans, Newark offers plenty of Star Alliance flights where you can earn miles. And, if you’re just flying to New York, LaGuardia will help you save a little money on transportation to and from New York City.

What is your favorite New York Airport? Let us know in the comments!

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Chris Mara

LaGuardia, LaGuardia, LaGuardia.
If you live in the city there’s no comparison. Close to the Triborough Bridge, Whitestone Bridge, Queensboro Bridge and the Midtown Tunnel there’s no comparison. Getting to Newark means fighting Holland or Lincoln Tunnel traffic and very high tolls. JFK is reachable for Queens/Brooklyn people by the streets but it’s way out there almost in Nassau county.

Paul Baker

JFK for INTL departures, EWR for INTL arrivals, and LGA for all domestic.

Mohammed Ibrahim

EWR needs major work and it’s damn shame because it has potential to becoming a major hub for int’l airlines like JFK. I live in NJ and don’t like commute due to gridlock on Belt Pkwy-EWR is 30-45 min drive.