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AirTrain JFK links the Howard Beach A and the Sutphin Boulevard E J Z subway stations, and LIRR's Jamaica Station directly to JFK. It takes about an hour from most parts of the city, and about 15 minutes from LIRR's Jamaica Station.

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      11.01.2010 14:24
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      The best way to get you started on your journey into the city.

      The JFK Airtrain is a monorail style system within the John F Kennedy Airport, New York. It is a handy and convient way to get from the terminal you arrive at to any other terminal, 2 train stations and subway station to get you into any of the 5 boroughs of New York.

      When the wife and myself arrived in JFK last September, we had already decided we would get the subway into Manhattan to save on spending alot on a cab. On looking at maps inside the airport, we discovered we would need to get the Airtrain to a train station to be able to continue the journey.

      We had arrived in Terminal 5, so I can only say how it is from this terminal, although it does service every terminal, so it would be a case of following signs.

      After leaving the terminal, we followed the signs for the Airtrain. Simple enough, it's not rocket science. Then it gets confusing. We came across a junction that had a 4 different signs for the Airtrain, with 4 arrows pointing in 4 different directions. How confusing. We picked one way and found the station, so even with the confusing arrows, it was simple enough. There was a few entrances into the station, so I can only assume this is why there are different arrows.

      There isn't much to the station really. A platform that is completely enclosed in glass, with automatic doors at set intervals (to allow you to board the train when it arrives). There are 2 sides to the platform, with trais arriving on either side, so make sure you pick the right side for the direection you want to go. There are a couple of maps of the Airtrain system on the platform, so you can work out where you are and the direction you need to be going. A few benches and a lift complete the set up of the platform. There are electronic signs displaying the next train along and how long it will be.

      At this point, we are looking around for somewhere to pay, but cannot find anywhere. Brilliant we think, a free train. The train arrives and is very smart, clean and quiet. It is rather fast in getting to the other stations and eventually your train station you require. Still haven't paid anything, so all is good.

      Now comes the shocking bit, you do have to pay. We have led into a false sense of security. To get out of the Airtrain station and into the main train station, you have to pay $5 each. Not exactly bank busting, but unexpected. The reason for this, I have discovered, is that you can go around the whole airport, all the terminals on the Airtrain for free, but have to pay to get to one of the 2 train stations.

      After this, we then paid $2.50 each for a train into the city on the subway system. To get from the airport to our hotel had cost us $15. To get a cab or minibus, it costs $50 minimum. The Airtrain followed by subway is a great saving. It only took us an hour from getting our bags at reclaim to getting to the hotel.

      On the Airtrain, there is plenty of space to cater for you and your luggage. The trains are fairly big, with minimal seating due to everyone having luggage, etc. As I've already said, it is very clean and quiet.

      There are 3 routes to the Airtrain. The first is for all terminals, going around to each terminal in turn. You then have one that starts and stops at Howard beach Train Station, that has connections to the subway and bus system. The third is Jamaica Train Station, again having conections for the subway, bus and also the Long Island Rail Road. Jamaica Station has alot more connections than Howard Beach and would probably be the best route to go by, but that depends on the destination you are going to.

      As said, it costs $5 each person if you are going to get off at a train station, so don't be surprised by having to pay that. It is far cheaper than getting a cab and the same time span to get you into the city, if not slightly quicker.

      You can use this to get you back to your leaving terminal when your trip is complete. We did do this, as we were leaving the city during rush hour and didn't want to go on the subway with our cases. If you do this, it is just the reverse of everything above.

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