How To Navigate the JFK Airport

JFK is located 15 miles from Manhattan. As the nation's largest and busiest airport, it is a challenge to navigate since it operates eight separate terminals with almost 200 aircraft gates and more than 30 miles of roads. JFK airport in New York covers a huge area and those unfamiliar with place could easily get lost. The easiest way to go through the airport is get to know the main areas.

The JFK airport has eight main terminals. The Central Terminal Area (CTA) is a circular one-mile road serving all eight terminals.

  • Terminal 1 has arrivals, departures and mezzanine levels and on the concourse, it is assigned Gates 1-11.
  • Terminal 2 has arrival and departure levels only and is assigned Gates 19-29.
  • Terminal 3 likewise has arrival and departure levels and is assigned Gates 1-18. Terminal 4 and Terminal 8 have similar configurations where they have arrival, departure and concourse levels.
  • Terminal 4 is assigned concourse levels A and B.
  • Terminal 8 is assigned concourse levels B and C.
  • Terminals 5 and 6 are assigned Gates 1-24 and Gates 1-25 respectively. 
  • Terminal 7 is assigned concourse levels 1-12.

When departing, each terminal has a curbside unloading area for passengers and baggage. Often, these are located near each airline's entrance doors. When arriving, you will see a weather-protected passage that connects the jetways to the terminal. Each terminal has its own baggage claim area so you need not worry about finding where to get your checked-in belongings.

JFK airport has also installed an AirTran, a light railway system that connects all 8 terminals to the New York City subways and buses and the Long Island Rail Road. If you are commuting, you might as well consider this option because the lines take you directly to the terminals.

Once you enter any of the terminals, there you will find Flight information Monitors throughout the airport where you can obtain flight information.

If you decide to take your car, familiarize yourself with the locations of parking areas. The parking lots are located in the central terminal area. They are color-coded and divided into five areas.

Before leaving for a trip, make sure you know which terminal is specific to your flight schedule and carrier. You may call your airline to know more details. If you need to change currencies, each terminal has a foreign exchange center and an ATM center. So, it does not matter in which terminal you go in, each one has a foreign exchange facility.

You should also consider using availing of the CLEAR benefits if you are a frequent traveler. You just need to pay an optional annual membership fee and you get a fast-pass clearance as a frequent traveler. CLEAR allows you to breeze through security checks with little problem. 

If you are still confused, you can always call the airport or your airline customer service hotline for additional information on how to get through the JFK airport. Knowing where you are going, what terminal you should be in and allocating enough time before your departure would surely be helpful



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