Flying into JFK Airport? From geographical location to airport layout, food and drink options, hidden gems, how to kill time and more, here’s what you need to know.
Where Is It?
Like LaGuardia, JFK International Airport is located in the borough of Queens. It’s situated in the Jamaica neighborhood, which is 16 miles southeast of Midtown Manhattan. Originally opened in 1948 as New York International Airport, the establishment was renamed in 1963 as a tribute to the 35th President. Cab fare from JFK to Manhattan is a flat fare of $52 to the first destination, and may experience increases due to tolls, surcharges or peak traffic times; shuttle services can be a cost-friendly alternative.
JFK spans 5,200 acres and supports two pairs of parallel runways surrounding the central terminal area. It’s a hub for American Airlines and Delta Airlines, and it acts as the primary operating base for JetBlue. There are six terminals and 128 gates. The terminals are numbered 1-8 but beware of the fact that terminals three and six have since been demolished, hence the six. The terminal buildings are situated in a misshapen U-format around a central area and can be navigated by a connected AirTrain system and access roads.
- Terminal 1 accommodates 21 airlines. These airlines include: Aeroflot, Air France, Air China, Air Italy, Alitalia, Austrian Airlines, Azerbaijan Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Cayman Airways, China Eastern Airlines, EVA Air, Interjet, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Lufthansa, Norweigan Air, Philippine Airlines, Royal Air Maroc, Saudia, Turkish Airlines and VivaAerobus. Do note that Terminal 1 will eventually combine current Terminals 1 and 2 and expand into the former Terminal 3 space; a $7 billion, 2.9 million square foot terminal on the airport’s south side and expected to be completed by 2025.
- Terminal 2 is exclusively used and operated by Delta Airlines.
- Terminal 4 includes 38 gates across two concourses, A and B. It also functions as a major international hub for Delta Airlines and serves domestic flights to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle-Tacoma. This terminal also acts as the primary gateway for international arrivals. Additional airlines serviced by Terminal 4 include: Aeromexico, Air Europa, Air India, Air Serbia, Asiana Airlines, Avianca, Caribbean Airlines, China Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Copa Airlines, Delta, EgyptAir, El Al, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Hainan Airlines, JetBlue (late night international arrivals only), Kenya Airways, KLM, Kuwait Airways, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Swiss International Air Lines, Thomas Cook Airlines, Uzbekistan Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Volaris, WestJet and Xiamen Airlines.
- Terminal 5 is the hub for JetBlue, but also services Hawaiian Airlines, TAP Air Portugal and Aer Lingus.
- Terminal 7 services Aerolineas Argentinas, Alaska Airlines, All Nippon Airways, British Airways, Eurowings, Iberia, Icelandair, LOT Polish Airlines, Qatar Airways and Ukraine International Airlines.
- Terminal 8 is twice the size of Madison Square Garden and is the largest passenger terminal at JFK. It is a hub for American Airlines and also currently services: Cathay Pacific, Ethiopian Airlines, Finnair, LATAM Brasil, LATAM Chile, Qantas, Qatar Airways and Royal Jordinian Airlines.
You can access live updates for security wait times, walk times to gates and taxi wait times directly on the JFK website.
Eating & Drinking at JFK
From sit-down restaurants and quick bites to convenience markets and more, below is a restaurant roundup of eatery expectations in the various JFK terminals.
Terminal 1 doesn’t have a vast selection of food options, but here’s the lowdown on what you can expect:
- Martini Bar can be found post security and is a retro-styled establishment with a sit-down bar offering martinis, beer, wine.
- For a quick bite, check out Jikji Cafe. This pre-security spot in the food court offers counter-service for Korean and Japanese food like bulgogi, udon noodle soup & kimbap.
- Other grab and go options include: Dunkin’, Euro Cafe, McDonald’s, Panini Express, Soho Bites, Soy and Sake, Starbucks, The Local, Wok & Roll and a few others.
In Terminal 2, you can find everything from sandwiches and sushi to pizza, burgers and more:
- For a sit-down meal, check out Italian-inspired Due Amici or Shiso for a more leisurely dining experience. Craving a beer and a brat? BKLYN Beer Garden offers sit-down iPad ordering as well as 20 beers on tap plus a tasty selection of sausages and burgers. All restaurants can be found post-security.
- In search of a quick bite? Visit Croque Madame for an open-faced sandwich, crepe or quiche. In the mood for Italian? Tagliare has you covered with pizza slices and breakfast options, too.
- If you’re seeking a grab and go experience, pop into Cibo Express Gourmet, Wendy’s or World Bean.
Terminal 4 kicks it up a notch with a famed Manhattan steakhouse, a Marcus Samuelsson inspired eatery and more:
- If you have time to enjoy a fine dining experience, then enjoy the cuisine at The Palm Bar & Grille. For classic American fare like catfish & grits and chicken & waffles, sit down at Uptown Brasserie and check out the open kitchen, too! You can also enjoy ribs, sausages and sandwiches at Blue Smoke on the Road, or Mexican street food at Mi Casa Cantina and Restaurant.
- For a quick bite, you have your pick from two, yes two, Shake Shack locations or breakfast fare from La Brea Bakery.
- Other options include: Buffalo Wild Wings, Canal St. Noodle House, Central Diner, Dunkin’, Jamba Juice, McDonald’s, So Chocolate, Urban Crave and more.
From Spanish-style sandwiches and a Parisian bistro to Italian fare, sushi and more, Terminal 5 won’t leave you hungry!
- For a sit-down meal, pop into Italian eatery AeroNuova; Deep Blue Sushi for – you guessed it – awesome airport sushi; La Vie for a drink, coffee or full-fledged French meal; or Piquillo for paella or a glass of wine with a sophisticated Spanish snack.
- If you want a quick bite, grab a sandwich at the Boar’s Head food hall stand – high quality meat in made-to-order deli sandwiches.
- Other grab and go options include: Away Cafe, Cheeburger Cheeburger, Cibo Express Gourmet Market, Dunkin’, Horizon Bakery Cafe, Lucy’s Asian Kitchen, New York Sports Grill, Re:Vive Bars, Starbucks and more.
Terminal 7 features limited options, but those available should not be overlooked:
- Check out Le Grand Comptoir, a free-standing wine bar, which also features cheese and charcuterie.
- If you’re looking for something quick, pop into Wolfgang Puck Express for a sandwich, soup, salad or gourmet pizza.
- Additional options include: Balducci’s Food Lovers Market, Dunkin’, Kobeyaki, Long Island Brew House, Red Mango, Starbucks, Subway and Thirsty Beer & Wine Bar.
Last but not least, here are your highlights for Terminal 8:
- Sit down at Bobby Van’s Steakhouse for everything from breakfast to salads, sandwiches and steak. Oh, and a full bar, too.
- If you need a quick but substantial bite, hit up Brooklyn National Deli for classic New York food like pastrami sandwiches and hot dogs.
- The rest includes options like: Abitino’s Pizza, Au Bon Pain, Auntie Anne’s, Dunkin’, Europan, Juan Valdez Cafe, McDonald’s, O’Neal’s Restaurant, Soho Bistro, Starbucks, Vino Volo Lounge and more.
How To Spend Waiting Time at JFK
Whether you’re shopping for business, pleasure or to just to move the clock hands, Terminal 1 has you covered. You can find everything from standard retail store options like Hudson News to higher end boutique shops like Cartier, Coach, Hermes, and Salvatore Ferragamo. If you’re in search of relaxation, book a pre-flight facial or massage at one of the terminal’s two XpresSpa locations.
Terminal 2 doesn’t offer much in the way of shopping or activities, but you will easily find a place to charge electronics so you can at least take advantage of WiFi to pass some time. Additionally, you may be able to get into an airline lounge as a premium economy passenger if you’re willing to pay extra cash for the day.
If you’re into beauty brands, then Terminal 4 is a good landing spot for you. Not only can you stock up on duty free goods, but you also have the option to visit name brand storefronts like Hugo Boss, Keihl’s and Tumi. Even better, if you’re an art buff but didn’t get a chance to grab a souvenir during your museum marathon in NYC, you can peruse the Metropolitan Museum of Art Store. Terminal 4 also houses 3 XpresSpa locations as well as an interfaith chapel, which is located pre-security on the departures level. Want to checkout an airport lounge? For $50, travelers can visit Wingtips for 4-hour access to the common-use lounge.
Terminal 5 offers an optimal location for rejuvenation at BeRelax Spa. From manicures and pedicures to facials, massages and aromatherapy treatments, you can unwind before or after a flight. Prefer to shop? There are a variety of retail outlets as well, including MUJI To Go and the Benefit Cosmetics shop.
Terminal 7 also offers shopping options, including: duty free shops, Hudson News storefronts and more upscale shops like Mont Blanc and Juicy Couture. There’s also an M&M store if you’re looking for something more playful. If relaxation is your preference, you can visit XpresSpa located in the Terminal 7 Retail Hall.
Activity options are limited in Terminal 8, but you can browse a variety of retail outlets, including: Brooks Brothers, Brookstone, L’Occitane, Pandora and the Solstice Sunglass Boutique. You can also revisit Vino Volo for a glass of wine or two if your stay is much longer than expected.
If you have any important tips or tricks you’ve acquired throughout your travels to, through and from JFK Airport, please share as we’re sure our community would love to hear!