Don't be afraid to try this; it sounds more difficult than it is. Basically, to get to JFK from Brooklyn, or vice-versa, by public transit requires taking two or three trains. But it saves about $30 if you are traveling solo, and it can be faster and more reliable than a taxi, especially during busy traffic times or bad weather.
Train to the Plane Basics
Three different trains are involved, including the subway. All are cheap, efficient, and fast.
AirTrain, New York's very short airport train. It's not as efficient as the trains connecting airports to major European cities because it doesn't actually go directly into Manhattan. It starts and ends in the borough of Queens.
The Long Island Railroad, despite its name, it will take you to Brooklyn.
New York City Subway, Once you arrive at Brooklyn's Atlantic Avenue station, you'll probably need to hop on a subway to get to wherever you are going to Brooklyn.
Why so many lines? Because the subway and LIRR trains are different systems, with different fares, different tracks, and they go to different places.
AirTrain Transit Times & Fares
- AirTrain travels to the airport from Jamaica every 4 to 10 minutes.
- Transit time on AirTrain from JFK to Jamaica: 10 minutes.
- Transit time on LIRR from Jamaica Station to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn: 10 minutes
- Total Fare JFK to Brooklyn: $12.50 up.
- AirTrain from JFK to Jamaica: 10 minutes ($5 with a Metrocard).
- LIRR from Jamaica Station to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn: $7.50-$16, depending on whether the ticket is purchased on or off the train, on or off-peak, etc.
- Subway (optional): $2.50.
- Children under 5 ride free on AirTrain.
Get from JFK to Brooklyn's Atlantic Terminal For Under $10
It’s fast and easy to get from JFK to Brooklyn’s Atlantic Avenue subway station by public transportation. Conveniently, the Atlantic Avenue subway station is a huge hub, where you can easily transfer to many other New York City subways to get to just about anywhere in Brooklyn.
- Don't get confused by the fact that sometimes people call the Atlantic Avenue station the Atlantic Terminal, Atlantic Avenue Station, Atlantic Avenue stop. It's all the same place, in the same building, at the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.
- Find the AirTrain at Your Terminal. Every airline terminal is accessible by the Air Train. AirTrain makes frequent stops everywhere around the airport — including the airline terminals, parking lots, hotel shuttle areas and rental car facilities. It is free and operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
- Get on the right AirTrain for Brooklyn! This is a step where a misstep can cause travelers a headache. There are three different AirTrain lines. The AirTrain line that goes to Brooklyn's Atlantic Terminal will have a sign on it saying "Jamaica Station." Make sure you get on the correct AirTrain.
- What is Jamaica Station? Jamaica Station is a major New York transit hub located not far from JFK, in the New York neighborhood called Jamaica, in the borough of Queens. Trains at Jamaica connect various elements of the NYC metropolitan mass transit system, namely the Long Island Rail Road, the NY City subway (specifically the E, J and Z lines), local buses, and AirTrain.
- It’s a short ride, about ten minutes, from Jamaica Station to Brooklyn by the Long Island Railroad (compared to about a half an hour by cab).
- At Jamaica Station, change to the LIRR. This sounds complicated, but it’s easy as cake. Once you are at the Jamaica Avenue Station, you do not need to go outside to transfer from the AirTrain to the LIRR. Both systems are under one roof. It's easy. Just follow the signs to the Long Island Railroad.
- LIRR Tickets: Buy a ticket for the LIRR from Jamaica to Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal. Inquire about special fares if you are a senior, have a child with you, or are traveling on weekends or off-peak hours. Fares vary. Buy the ticket before you get on the LIRR train unless you want to pay extra.
- Timing: The LIRR is a commuter train that runs on a regular schedule. Generally, there are trains from Jamaica Station to Atlantic Avenue station every 15 minutes.
- Get Off the LIRR at Atlantic Terminal. Congratulations! You’ve made it to Brooklyn, in less time and for significantly less money than if you had taken a taxi. From here, you can call a cab, meet a friend, take a bus, or head to the Barclay Center, Atlantic Mall, Brooklyn Academy of Music or Atlantic or Flatbush Avenues!
TIP - If You Have Heavy Luggage, Can You Take the Train to the Plane? AirTrain JFK is connected to the Railroad's hub by escalators, elevators, people movers and an overhead mezzanine bridge. However, the NYC subways do not all have elevators, so if you cannot carry your own luggage up (and sometimes down) stairs, then you might need to take a car service from this station, or arrange to be met by a friend who can help you carry your baggage.
AirTrain JFK - 877-JFK-AirTrain (535-2478).