Terminal 1 check-in desks

JFK Airport Guide

14 Jun 2019

John F. Kennedy Airport is probably the most well know airport in New York City, and although it is a big airport it is very easy to navigate and get around and is full of shops, restaurants, and entertainment.

There are multiple ways to get to JFK from all around New York city including Taxi, Bus, and the Subway. The JFK AirTrain which connects all of the airport terminals also connects to the New York City Subway at the Jamaica and Howard Beach stations and is the best public transport option from Manhattan, depending on where you are coming from you may also need to change trains to get to the airport.

Catching a Taxi is the most direct way to get to the Airport from any part of NYC and charge a flat fare of US$52, this does not include any tolls or tips.

Arrive to JFK by Taxi or car with Terminal signage

Arrive to JFK by Taxi or car with Terminal signage

Before arriving at the airport it is important to know what terminal you will be flying out of as there are 8 different terminals at JFK. This will appear on your E-Ticket or if you check in online. If you are not sure there are signs when you come into the airport via car or taxi with what airline is at each terminal. The most common airlines are as follows –

Terminal 1: Air France, Japan Airlines, and Lufthansa

Terminal 2: Delta Airlines

Terminal 4: International Terminal

Terminal 5: Jetblue

Terminal 7: British Airways

Terminal 8: American Airlines

To transfer from one airline to another it is best to use the AirTrain which is free between each terminal and goes in a loop around the airport. To do this you will need to exit the airport and follow the signs to the AirTrain. If you have a connecting flight between terminal 2 and 4 you can also utilise the Delta Jitney bus, which is similar to the Qantas bus at Sydney Airport that connects domestic flights with the international terminal. If you do this you will not have to go through TSA security again.

On the Lufthansa 3 continent global fare the flight from the USA to Europe will be coming out of terminal 1. Lufthansa has dedicated check-in counters and a staffed service desk for Lufthansa, and Austrian Airlines.

Lufthansa dedicated Check-in and service desks

Lufthansa dedicated Check-in and service desks

Inside terminal 1 there 8 rows of check-in counters for different Airlines with security in the middle, some are dedicated to one airline, like Lufthansa, while others are not connected to any particular airline but change depending on what flight needs to be checked in. At the start of each row of counters, there are screens with flight numbers and the corresponding check-in counter so it is easy to find where you need to go. Check-in at the airport for most flights starts 3-4 hours before your plane departs (depending on the airline) most airlines do open online check-in 24 hours before, but if you need to check in your bags you will only be able to do so once the airport check-in has opened.

Terminal 1 check-in desks

Terminal 1 check-in desks

Behind all of the check-in counters on a mezzanine level is a food court with a variety of food options including McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts and other speciality shops. This is a great place to kill time if you arrive at check-in too early or you don’t want to proceed through security just yet. It is a good idea to have a bite to eat here before moving through security as there is a lot more variety here than in the rest of the airport which is mostly coffee shops or bars.

Food court outside security

Food court outside security

As expected the security at JFK is very busy and there can be quite a long line but it moves quickly and the staff want to help you get through as quickly and easily as possible. It is a good idea to be organised with your boarding pass and ID (passport open to the photo page) ready to go. As well if possible having your laptop or larger devices out of your bag, it is also required to remove your shoes. There is a bin for liquids at the end of the line so you can hold onto any drinks until the end of the line, any liquids that you wish to take onto the plane will need to be under 100ml and in a clear bag for security. After you have been cleared there is an area to gather all of your things together and put your shoes back on, but it is a good idea to move through here as quickly as possible to avoid congestion.

JFK Security

Terminal 1 in in the shape of a T with security in the middle and 3 corridors of gates coming out from it. Here you will find all of the shopping options including duty-free, and luxury brands as well as chocolate and food shops. As you move down towards the gates there are more cafe and restaurant options, with convenience stores located at the far ends with everything you will need for your flight. Each gate is clearly labelled and depending on the airline there may also be extra signage.

JFK Terminal 1

JFK Terminal 1

JFK Terminal 1 Duty-Free

JFK Terminal 1 Duty-Free

Through to the gates at JFK

Through to the gates at JFK

Restaurant options after security at JFK

Restaurant options after security at JFK

Other Services and Lounges

The JFK Airport is a hub to many different airlines and is home to many different lounges for you to enjoy while in the airport including the Lufthansa Business Lounge, and Air France lounge in terminal 1, Delta Sky Club Lounge, Emirates Lounge, and SWISS Lounge in terminal 4. If you don’t have lounge access you can still relax with a message at XpresSpa locations in terminal 1 and 4.