John F. Kennedy International Airport
Located in the borough of Queens, approximately 12 miles from Lower Manhattan, John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) is part of the largest airport system in the U.S. JFK, LaGuardia and Newark are all run by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. JFK airport was originally called Idlewild, but it was renamed in the wake of President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963.
JFK is one of the busiest passenger and cargo airports in the country. When combined with the other two airports in the NY/NJ system, it is second only to the London airport system (which includes Heathrow and five other airports) in terms of passenger traffic worldwide.
History of JFK Airport
JFK was built in 1943 on an area of land that used to be Idlewild Golf Course, hence the airport’s original name. The popular early 1960s television show “Car 54, Where Are You?” referenced Idlewild Airport in its catchy theme song. Idlewild, now JFK, was primarily built because LaGuardia, which had been officially dedicated in 1939, was already running at full capacity. Initially, the idea was to build a relatively small airport, but as travel needs grew, so did the airport.
Terminals at JFK
JFK currently has seven terminals. Though it may seem odd, they are numbered one-eight. When terminal five was expanded, they decided to take down terminal six, but left the other terminals numbered as they had been originally. Eventually the plan is to expand and demolish other terminals until there are only six.
As part of the larger airport system, JFK uses a color signage system that is used also at LaGuardia and Newark. Yellow signs help passengers find ticketing and gates, green signs point to ground transportation options and black signs indicate restrooms, telephones and other such services.
AirTrain JFK, which makes stops at all terminals, is connected to the city’s subway and commuter rail system. Besides stopping at all the terminals, AirTrain also stops at parking lots, shuttle areas, and rental car agencies. A number of bus lines also run from the airport to subway and rail systems, and the city’s yellow cabs provide service from city to airport, and vice versa, for a flat fee. The airport is also easily reachable by car.
There is ample parking at JFK, including Short-term/Daily Garages, Long-term/Economy Lots and Lots for those with restricted mobility. Spots can be reserved. Since it’s such a busy airport, there are no quick drop off or pick up areas immediately in front of the terminals. However, there is a free Cell Phone Lot about five minutes away from the airport for those simply coming in to pick up arriving passengers. There is also the “Kiss & Fly” station about ten minutes from the airport, where passengers can be dropped off and complete their trip to JFK via AirTrain.
JFK covers almost 5,000 acres. The airport employs about 36,000 people. As such a large employer, the airport takes its role in the community seriously and even hosts annual career days for students interested in exploring jobs in aviation.
Perhaps because of its size and prominence, JFK has become something of a cultural icon over the years. It has been mentioned in numerous songs and television shows, and was most notably the site of the Beatles’ first press conference on American soil in 1964.
Airlines Serving JFK
Serving as the busiest gateway into New York City, John F. Kennedy International Airport is a major hub for three large domestic airline companies. The busiest carrier at JFK Airport is Delta Air Lines, which has the entire Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 complex to itself. Additionally, Delta offers some service in Terminal 4.
Delta connects New York City’s busiest airport with some of the largest cities in all major regions of the United States. Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis, Memphis, and Salt Lake City are cities that are accessible to passengers at JFK Airport. The main airports in these important cities serve as hubs for Delta Air Lines. Of course, this busy airline also operates non-stop flights to other large U.S. cities like Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, Phoenix, Seattle, and Washington District of Columbia. The Delta Air Lines international schedule includes a diverse lineup of destinations in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, South America and the Caribbean region.
John F. Kennedy International Airport serves as the main base for JetBlue Airways. This company specializes in low-cost service to destinations in the United States and the neighboring regions in South America and the Caribbean Sea. Terminal 5 at JFK Airport is almost entirely dedicated to JetBlue Airways, as Hawaiian Airlines is the only other company to use this terminal.
New York City’s busy low-cost airline takes passengers to Caribbean resort destinations such as Aruba, Bermuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Saint Martin. JetBlue Airways is also a popular option to get to Florida’s vacation destinations such as Jacksonville, Orlando, Miami, Tampa, and West Palm Beach.
American Airlines is the third domestic company that uses John F. Kennedy International Airport as a major hub. This airline connects New York with major domestic and international destinations. The extensive American Airlines schedule includes Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, and South America. All American Airlines service is offered in Terminal 8 at JFK Airport. Additionally, Terminal 8 is also home to the American Airlines affiliate company American Eagle, which offers regional service within North America.
More than 40 international airlines from all over the world serve John F. Kennedy International Airport. Terminal 4 is the busiest facility in terms of international flights. This terminal receives service from major airlines such as Aer Lingus, Air India, El Al, Egyptair, Emirates, KLM, South African Airways, and Transaero. The rest of the international carriers use Terminal 1, 7, and 8 at John F. Kennedy International Airport.