Monday, August 20, 2007

Arriving in NYC: From Airport to City Basics

There are three major airports that service New York City:
- John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
- Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
- LaGuardia Airport (LGA)

Your airline carrier and their routes will determine at which airport you arrive and depart. Only one airline flies non-stop from Honolulu to New York. Continental Airlines has that honor with a daily flight to Newark and back. All other major carriers require a layover or change of flights at one of their hubs. If you’re counting miles, you’ll earn approximately 10,000+ from the round trip from Hawaii.

I’ve noticed that on American Airlines, flights from the west coast arrive at either JFK or Newark. Flights from hubs closer to NYC, such as Chicago and Dallas/Ft. Worth, tend to arrive at LaGuardia.

The distance to Manhattan from each of the three airports are:
- JFK 15 miles
- Newark 16 miles
- LaGuardia 8 miles

One option of getting to Manhattan is via taxi. You’ll easily find taxi stands outside airport terminals with dispatchers on hand during very busy periods. Don’t forget to tip your diver 15%-20% and always use an authorized taxi at the designated area outside the terminal.
- From JFK, the charge is flat fee of $45 not including tolls ($4-$5) and tips.
- From Newark, give the address to the dispatcher and you will be quoted the exact fare ($30-$38).
- From LaGuardia, you pay by the meter ($17-$27) plus tolls and tips.

With bags in tow, the alternative is a shuttle van service. If you are a party of two or more, the cost for a taxi is probably more economical than paying for the fare per passenger and tips for a shuttle van. Super Shuttle is one such company. Advance reservation from the airport is not required. A reservation is a must 24 hours in advance for the return trip back to the airport. Fares range from $15-$19 per person not including tips.

Ground transportation desks are found at each terminal at all three airports. The staff can answer all your transportation questions and help make arrangements for shuttle service.

The decision you make will likely be based on both cost and time. In the time category, by taxi to Manhattan:
- From JFK 45-60 minutes
- From Newark 35-50 minutes
- From LaGuardia 20-35 minutes
Note: adjustments need to be made for peak traffic hours

The time via shuttle to Manhattan will be determined by several factors:
- The number of stops for the passengers in the shuttle
- The distance between those stops
- The traffic
- Your location on the route determined by the shuttle driver
Being a solo hopeful traveler, I’ve usually taken the shuttle to Manhattan and back to the airport. Only once did I take a taxi from JFK and that was because I was feeling truly ill. If I depart from LaGuardia, I am more likely to use a taxi rather than a shuttle just to get an extra hour of sleep and get to the airport ASAP. Remember a shuttle makes several stops to pick up other passengers departing that day before finally leaving for the airport. So it’s possible your driver may be coming to your hotel in three hours in advance of your departure time if you are the first pick-up. So if you have an 8am flight, don’t be surprised if the shuttle service requires you be ready for a 5am pick-up.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

New York City, Here I Come (Again)!

My first visit to New York City was in June/July 1995. Like London, it was a city I had longed to visit and a city I have returned to a few times over the past twelve years.

What makes New York special? For starters unless you live there, it’s probably nothing like home. NYC is an international center for entertainment, creative arts, finance and fashion. You can shop to your heart's content, experience the best of the theater, enjoy world-class museums and basically nosh your way through an incomparable variety and quality of restaurants.

Think about how much NYC is part of your life. Watch any of the commercial networks. Their evening news broadcasts are telecast from NYC. Read the financial section of the paper. The world watches the ups and downs of Wall Street by the minute. Go to the movies or rent a DVD. It is likely you’ve seen more films set in NYC than you actually remember.

Despite what you see or hear about the city, nothing can prepare you for experiencing the city “live and in person”. Sometimes overwhelming, the city is anything but dull. It’s that constant whirl of activity centered in a very concentrated area, from morning to noon to night, that makes New York City one of the most exciting cities in the world. The common thought is New Yorkers tend to be fast walking, fast talking and brusque. True, it is a city where its inhabitants are in constant motion. But more often than not, you’ll be surprised to find how warm some New Yorkers can be.

So like the London trip in May, this visit to NYC was all planned within two weeks of departure. Although less taxing than flying half way around the world to Europe, the journey to NYC is still a long one and planning, like any trip, is still a must. The next series of posts highlights NYC from a visit in June/July 2007. Okay, I know....I am behind in posting.
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