With three main airports serving the five boroughs of New York City, all managed by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, you're truly spoiled for choice when you're seeking cheap flights to New York City. Where you land will likely be determined by where you take off from, since each airport best serves different parts of the country and the world.
LaGuardia Airport is the closest to Manhattan and typically handles most domestic flights. Located in Queens, the airport has been operating as LaGuardia since 1947, but the land has been used as an airfield from as far back as 1929. Flights to LaGuardia operate from four terminals.
Terminal A is the original airport building, and Delta operates a number of daily shuttle flights to New York City from Boston, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Terminal B is the largest terminal -- usually referred to as the Central Terminal Building. It handles most of the domestic airlines' scheduled flights. Terminal C was built in 1992, and is also a hub for Delta fights, as well as US Airways and the Canadian carrier WestJet. Terminal D is connected to Terminal C by a walkway; it services Delta Airlines flights from its 10 gates.
There is no border control at LaGuardia, so the flights arriving from Canadian airlines are pre-cleared by customs before leaving Canada.
John F. Kennedy International Airport -- better known as just JFK -- is a little farther south, but also in Queens. Originally called New York International Airport, JFK saw its billionth traveler walk through its gates in 2000, and in 2013 it welcomed a record 50 million passengers. JFK is where The Beatles famously disembarked for their first US tour, and countless heads of state and international dignitaries arrive at JFK every year.
Currently there are six operating terminals at JFK. There are 11 gates at Terminal 1 that service four airlines: Air France, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, and Lufthansa. Delta Airlines operates out of Terminal 2, and Terminal 4 serves as its major international hub. Flights operated by Swiss International Air Lines, Asiana Airlines, Singapore Airlines, EgyptAir, Emirates, Pakistan International Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Etihad Airways, KLM, and Avianca also fly out of Terminal 4.
Low-cost carrier JetBlue is the main resident of JFK's Terminal 5, but now Hawaiian Airlines and Ireland's Aer Lingus operate flights to New York City here as well. Terminal 7 is home to British Airways, but Cathay Pacific, Iberia, Qantas, United Airlines, and ANA also use Terminal 7's 12 gates. Terminal 8 is home to the OneWorld alliance -- American Airlines operates the most flights from here, but Finnair, Royal Jordanian Airlines, Air Berlin, Qatar Airways, LAN Airlines, TAM Airlines, and US Airways also operate flights out of Terminal 8's 29 gates.
Newark Liberty International Airport is in New Jersey, and since it's a bit farther afield than LaGuardia or JFK, you can often find great deals for flights to New York City. More than 150 non-stop destinations are served by the 25 airlines that operate out of Newark's three terminals. Terminal A has no immigration facilities, so it mostly houses domestic scheduled flights. Terminal B is mainly international airlines and flights, and Terminal C is a main hub for United Airlines, with domestic and international flights to New York City operating from its 59 gates.
The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey also manages three other airports in the region: Stewart International Airport, which is 60 miles north of NYC in the Hudson Valley, Atlantic City International Airport, which is roughly 125 miles southwest of Manhattan in South Jersey, and Teterboro -- a relief airport just 12 miles from NYC that mainly handles smaller aircraft and domestic charter airlines.
Finding cheap flights to New York City will probably be the easiest part of planning a trip on a budget. In fact, the challenge may lie in narrowing down your affordable airfare options. The three main airports manage over 4,000 flights daily, providing many opportunities to get a great flight at a great price. Since all major airlines fly into all or most of the area's major airports, you can focus on the low-cost carriers for the best deals. But don't rule out the major airlines either! They often have flights into New York every hour, and frequently offer deep discounts to fill empty seats.
Delta has a domestic hub in LaGuardia, and their international hub is at John F. Kennedy. JFK also serves as the international hub for American Airlines and is the operating base for JetBlue; it also serves as a secondary hub for both Alaska Airlines and America West. United Airlines' area hub is at Newark. Using a flight search aggregator like Hipmunk is your best bet for narrowing down your many options to the best combination of price and flight time.
New York City is one of those special destinations where high season happens year-round. It's most hopping between March and December, although the slightly quieter months of January and February are interrupted with romance seekers around Valentine's Day. But much of the beauty and excitement of New York is due to the hustle and bustle, so there is really no point in trying to avoid the crowds. If you visit during July and August, you may find the streets a tad quieter, but that's likely because many local New Yorkers have fled for nearby beaches in Long Island and New Jersey.
The weeks just before Thanksgiving in November through to January are the busiest and it's the most expensive time to visit New York. International visitors and tri-state area residents alike flock to Manhattan to experience the holiday decorations, activities, and shows that celebrate the festive season.
Transportation is another of the more affordable things to include in your getaway budget. In addition to the abundance of cheap flights to New York, getting around Manhattan and the five boroughs is also remarkably affordable. While taxis from the airport can seem pretty steep, especially from JFK and Newark, once you're in town the fares seem much more reasonable, even if you're going more than a few blocks.
Although there is an abundance of private shuttle companies that are convenient and quite affordable, using public transit and train service is definitely the easiest and cheapest way to get to and from the area airports and around town.
It takes roughly 30 minutes on the train from Newark to Manhattan's Penn Station, and costs $12.50. There are two AirTrain routes available to Manhattan from JFK -- they range between 30 and 50 minutes and involve transferring to Manhattan Transit Authority (MTA) subways. The fares range from $7.50 to $15.50 for those routes, and you can purchase a pre-paid MTA Metrocard at JFK that can be used on all MTA vehicles. LaGuardia has an MTA express bus service that connects to the city for a fare of only $2.50, and prepaid fare cards can also be purchased at LaGuardia.
The New York City subway system may seem intimidating, but it truly is an easy and affordable way to get around the city. The free Citymapper app can assist with real-time routes, maps, and directions to help you find your way.
Many of the best New York City attractions are low-cost or no cost. Times Square, the New York Public Library, Central Park, Rockefeller Center, and the Staten Island ferry are all free. Many of the museums are free for young children, and most of the area's smaller museums and galleries encourage a suggested contribution instead of an entry fee. If shows and attractions are musts for your trip, the NYC CityPASS will save you 40% on admission to six top attractions -- including the Empire State Building, the American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island. Buy Broadway show tickets at the Times Square TKTS booth on the morning of the show for big savings.
With a bit of planning you can truly experience all the city has to offer. Unless you plan on shopping until you drop the whole time, a trip to New York City on a budget is totally within reach.
© 2015 Hipmunk, Inc. Hipmunk is a trademark of Hipmunk, Inc.
© 2015 Hipmunk, Inc. Hipmunk is a trademark of Hipmunk, Inc.