Taking an Uber or Lyft from the JFK airport to Manhattan is almost identical to taking a cab. I prefer the Uber/Lyft option because the cars are usually nicer than cabs, I like getting my receipt emailed to me, and I don’t like fumbling around with my wallet when I have all my bags with me. Another nice option about Uber/Lyft is you can pre-arrange a ride including pre-arranging an Uber/Lyft family ride that includes a car seat. Finally, I just kind of like to follow the map on the app.
Of course Uber is not the only option, New York City offers many options for getting from JFK to the city. We cover all of them, but the size of everything here can be overwhelming so we are here to simplify some of the details.
Avoid the scams
One quick note is you should only use your app to hail an Uber/Lyft and only get in your car at the designated location. There may be drivers offering limo service as you exit baggage claim. Ignore these people. Navigating JFK is pretty easy otherwise.
Finding the Uber/Lyft pickup location at JFK
Generally if you follow signs for “Passenger Pick Up” you will find the ride sharing waiting areas at JFK. The signs are hard to miss, and are usually right across from the taxi stand, but each terminal is a little bit different so we’ll cover a quick visual guide below.
Terminal 1 serves Air France, Japan Airlines, Korean Air and Lufthansa. The taxi stand from JFK Terminal 1 is directly outside of the baggage claim area. The arrivals area is not very big and the signs for passenger pickup are very large. To get to passenger pickup, you can either walk around the giant signs blocking the door for the taxi stand, or just go to the taxi stand and continue to your right. The passenger pick up used for ride sharing is about 100 meters away from the taxi area. Note in the image below, you can see the taxi area in the background on the bottom right, it's that close.
Terminal 2 is the Delta terminal and is even smaller than Terminal 1. The sign for the passenger pick up used for ride sharing services is directly overhead the doors to the exit and will nearly slap you in the face. When you walk outside, the taxi stand is immediately on your right and the pick up location is both across the street and to the left.
Terminal 4 is the largest international terminal at JFK serving Aeromexico, Air India, China Airlines, El Al, Singapore Air, Etihad, Avianca, Uzbekistan Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, etc. The best way to find passenger pick up in Terminal 4 is to first find the taxi stand, which is very well marked. Once you find that, exit the arrivals area through the doors to the right of the taxi stand. Once you get outside, you want to immediately turn left and cross the street to the passenger pick up area. From here things should be fairly obvious.
Terminal 5 is primarily served by Jet Blue, Aer Lingus, Cape Air, TAP Portugal, and Hawaiian Airlines. Finding the passenger pick up at Terminal 5 is actually easier than finding the taxi stand. The first thing to look out for outside of the baggage claim area is the sign overhead. (apologies for the glare on my photo). Note there are no signs for passenger pick up! DO NOT FOLLOW THE SIGN FOR THE TAXI. Follow signs for the pet relief area. The good news is, these are the first doors you should notice once you leave the baggage claim area. It's just not well marked. Once outside, the pickup locations are identified in by the numbers inside the red boxes.
Terminal 7 serves Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Eurowings, Iberia, Iceland Air, LOT, Norwegian Air, and Ukraine International Airlines. Finding the passenger pick up here is also easy as long as you can read signs. When you exit baggage claim, turn right and smack in front of you is a sign for the taxi stand. It can be a little misleading because the sign is directly above the door so it is tempting to go out the door, but notice the arrow to the right. Ignore that arrow and walk right through the door. It's funny how you walk right under the giant sign for the taxi to get to passenger pick up, but nobody said the person who designed this is going to win usability of the year. Once you get outside, simply cross the street and you will arrive at the passenger pick up area for ride sharing at terminal 7.
Terminal 8 serves American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Ethiopian Airlines, Finnair, Qantas, Qatar Airways, and Royal Jordanian. The terminal serves both domestic and international arrivals, but the taxi stand and passenger pick up area are in the same place for both. When arriving on a domestic arrival, as you exit baggage claim, follow the sign out the door to the right. For international arrivals, the route to the pick up area is straight ahead. Unfortunately the signage at Terminal 8 neglects to mention where the passenger pick up area is, so just follow the sign for the taxi stand. Once you get outside, cross the street and you will see a big booth for the taxi stand. The passenger pick up location is on the other side of the median from the taxi pick up area.
This is the sign for the domestic arrivals
This is the sign for international arrivals
But how do I know where to stand?
The apps make hailing an Uber or Lyft easy from JFK airport. Once you exit the baggage claim area, pull up your app and it will not only recognize what terminal you are at but will also give you the option to choose what passenger pick up location you want. Note in the image below, I am standing in passenger pick up D, but you can see pick up location C in the background. Uber and Lyft give you the option to choose whatever zone you want, as you can see from the screen shots I took below.
Cost of an Uber from JFK airport
The cost of a ride share from JFK airport is 100% variable and there are many factors that go into the calculation. That said, below are ball park estimates of an UberX ride based on plugging in a few known addresses into the app.
Upper West Side
Newark Liberty International Airport
$130 – $150 (including surcharge)
Questions answered about Uber/Lyft from JFK airport
Is it cheaper to take a taxi or Uber in NYC?
Uber/Lyft and Taxis charge using a different rate calculation so the pricing varies. Because of this taxis are cheaper in New York City when traffic is slow, while Uber is cheaper in most other cases. Surge pricing, however plays a major role. As a New Yorker, I can tell you the pricing is nearly identical and evens out in the end. Just take what you prefer.
Is Lyft or Uber cheaper in New York City?
Lyft’s surge pricing is supposedly lower, but as of right now, I just plugged in about 15 different routes and Uber was cheaper on 7 of them, while Lyft was cheaper on 8. Lyft will always show a price that is higher than Uber, but it crosses it out and gives some sort of discount on some routes that makes it cheaper than Uber.
How much should you tip Uber or Lyft drivers in NYC?
Do not tip a ride share driver any less than you would a Taxi driver. A standard tip is between 20% and 30%. The app will give you the option to pick a percentage and do the math for you.
Is there a flat rate for an Uber from JFK to Manhattan?
No. Taxis offer a flat rate from JFK to Manhattan but ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft do not.
Is it rude not to tip an Uber driver?
Yes. Don’t be a scrooge. These folks are not paid that well and the cost of living in NYC is brutal.
Do you sit in the front or back of an Uber?
Just like a taxi, passengers should sit in the back of an Uber, but feel free to ask the driver if it’s OK to sit in the front if you prefer, or if you have 3 or more people.
Mike is a software engineer and father of three young boys. He works closely with a study abroad program at a large university in New York City, so he gets a healthy dose of culture at home and gets to travel to amazing places for work. When he’s not staring at a screen trying to figure out why a semicolon is causing an entire system to malfunction, he enjoys spending time with his family outdoors immersed in culture and nature.