Taxi Tips for Tourists in NYC

Aug 25, 2015

When touching down at area airports, the first challenge for most tourists is actually just getting to Manhattan. After a long flight, who wants to worry about really getting “taken for a ride” by a swindling cabbie? Fear not, visitors. The Big Apple is just a short (legitimate) taxi or shuttle away.

One rule of thumb: never get in a car with someone who is soliciting at the terminal. This is illegal, and many of these “gypsy cabs” (as we natives call them) are unlicensed/uninsured and can end up charging a higher rate than originally quoted.

Here are some reliable and easy ways to get to Manhattan from JFK or LaGuardia airport:

1. Official NYC yellow taxis have a flat rate fee from JFK to Manhattan for $52 (plus tolls and tip). This fare covers all passengers and brings you to one destination. From LGA, there are metered fares, and prices vary depending on which part of Manhattan you are going to. Sample fares on the airport’s site range from $25-$40 (plus tolls and tip), but traffic is a big deciding factor -- this can make the meter soar. Taxi stands are easy to find and typically located outside each terminal.

2. Private car services are always an option. You can get a quote and reserve a car online prior to your trip and simply wait for pick-up at the airport. Some popular options include Dial 7 and Carmel.

3. If you have the time and don’t mind stopping to drop other visitors off along the way, try an affordable trip on the Super Shuttle or GO Airlink NYC from either airport. Trips can be booked in advance online or at various welcome centers/kiosks upon arrival.

4. Hop on the NYC Airporter, which will take you from JFK or LGA directly to main transit hubs: Grand Central or Penn Station. From Grand Central, NYC Airporter offers free shuttle van service to Times Square & Midtown hotels between 23rd and 63rd Streets.

5. Those feeling more intrepid (and cost conscious) can take the AirTrain from JFK and transfer to MTA subway lines, which will cost less than $10 total. The site estimates a trip to Penn Station will take 50 minutes -- but be prepared to wait for subway trains (especially during off-peak hours).

6. From LaGuardia, visitors can use a MetroCard (or have $2.75 in exact change) and take the M60 bus into Manhattan, where transfers can be made to various subway lines.

7. Ride-sharing and car-pooling apps: Established car services like Uber and Lyft can be challenging to order when leaving an airport. Your best bet is to uses these types of services when you’re en route to the airport. In summer 2015, UberX had a flat rate from Manhattan to JFK of $60. For those who want to try using the app at the airport, Uber recommends you wait until you have your baggage and a driver is on his or her way to give them the exact pickup location (terminal, door number, etc).

Another benefit with using these apps are they might be best option if you are staying somewhere off the well-worn tourist path because you can input your address and be confident your driver will know where you’re going.

Once you’ve reached your final destination, drop your bags and start exploring the many splendors of “The City That Never Sleeps.” Between the extensive subway/bus system and yellow taxis that fill the streets, finding your way around shouldn’t be a problem.

Travelzoo Tip: Take note, many car services and shuttles allow you to rack up frequent flyer miles with certain airlines when you make a reservation.
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