Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
We may be compensated when you click on product links, such as credit cards, from one or more of our advertising partners. Terms apply to the offers below. See our Advertising Policy for more about our partners, how we make money, and our rating methodology. Opinions and recommendations are ours alone.
John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) is a busy airport for its size, transporting over 59 million passengers annually before the pandemic. Traffic congestion around the airport is reasonable, with good public transport connections around New York City and beyond.
JFK’s automated people mover, the AirTrain, makes it quick and convenient to move between terminals, while also transporting passengers to the outskirts of the airport for car rental services, pick-up and drop-off stations, and long-term parking. This eases central airport congestion further.
JFK Airport Layout
John F. Kennedy International Airport has 5 terminals numbered 1, 4, 5, 7, and 8, and these are located on the outside of a rectangular loop, with vehicle access and parking on the inside. The inside of the loop is landside, or pre-security, where all passengers and visitors can access, and the outside areas are airside, or post-security, where only passengers with a valid ticket are permitted.
The loop is defined by the AirTrain tracks, which is the way to get from one terminal to another, excluding access to Terminal 1, which is currently via free shuttle bus from Terminals 4 or 8. None of the terminals interconnect with airside walkways, so you do need to go through security again for a flight connection.
Facilities vary considerably between terminals, so if you’re looking to shop or grab a bite to eat before heading airside, then it’s best to check what options are available in your terminal. You can check this information on the airport’s website.
JFK Ground Transportation Pre-security
Inter-terminal transportation revolves around the AirTrain, and there are currently a couple of different lines you can ride depending on your destination. To move from one terminal to another, you can ride both lines for free, with a courtesy shuttle bus currently serving Terminal 1 while construction work sees an extended closure of the AirTrain station.
The shuttle service from Terminal 8 to Terminal 1 operates 24/7, while a bus route between Terminal 1 and Terminal 4 operates from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
The AirTrain lines usually loop round all terminals, before carrying on to either Jamaica Station (red line) or Howard Beach (green line). However, with the ongoing construction work at Terminal 1, these lines are running to Terminal 4 and back again. The 2 lines split at Federal Circle, with the green line also stopping at the long-term parking lot A/B and Kiss & Fly drop-off area.
If you’re riding the AirTrain between terminals, to Federal Circle, or to Lefferts Boulevard, then your ride will be free. If you start or end your journey at Jamaica or Howard Beach then a one-way trip will cost $8.25.
AirTrain stations are located outside each terminal, connected by walkways on the following levels:
- Terminal 1: Currently closed
- Terminal 4: level 3
- Terminal 5: level 4
- Terminal 7: level 2
- Terminal 8: level 2
JFK doesn’t encourage walking between terminals as the roads are busy on the inside of the airport loop. However, there are sidewalks available, and it is possible to walk between some of the terminals that are closer together, such as Terminals 4 and 5.
Layout of Terminals at JFK
JFK Terminal 1
Terminal 1 is on the southeast side of the airport, operating flights from international airlines such as Air France, Lufthansa, and Turkish Airlines. With the Terminal 1 parking lot currently closed, the nearest parking is located at Terminal 8 (red parking garage) with a quick journey on the free shuttle bus.
Level 1 – Baggage Claim
Baggage claim and Customs and Immigration is located on level 1. When connecting from Terminal 1, you’ll need to take the courtesy shuttle bus from outside the terminal to either Terminal 4 or Terminal 8, where you can pick up the AirTrain.
Level 2 – Departure Concourse
Terminal 1 has 14 gates numbered 1 to 4, 5A, 5B, 6, 7A, 7B, and 8 to 12. Passing through security, gates 4 to 12 are down the long corridor straight ahead of you, and gates 1 to 3 are to the right. Shops and restaurants are located on the concourse level, along with a Korean Airlines Lounge and Turkish Airlines Lounge near gate 3 and an Air France Lounge near gate 1.
Level 3 – Check-in
The ticketing desks and security checkpoint are located on level 2. There’s also a VIP One Lounge outside of security.
Level 4 – Food Court
The terminal food court is located on level 4, with options such as Mcdonald’s and Dunkin’. The pedestrian bridge across to the AirTrain station (currently closed due to ongoing construction) is also located on level 3, accessible from the check-in area.
JFK Terminal 4
Terminal 4 consists of 42 gates split across 2 concourses and operates international and domestic flights. It’s located at the southern end of the airport with available parking in the blue garage outside the terminal.
Level 1 – Arrivals
Baggage claim is located on level 1 of the terminal, where international arrivals will also pass through Customs and Immigration. The Global Entry enrollment office is located in the arrivals hall.
Level 4 – Check-in
Check-in desks are located on level 3. As you pass through security, you’ll need to take the escalator or elevator down to the departures level where Concourse A is to the left and Concourse B is to the right. Once inside the secure area, eligible passengers can also access the American Express Centurion Lounge and Delta Sky Clubs on this level.
Concourse A has 16 gates numbered A2 to A7 on the upper level and gates A9 to A17, A19, and A21 on the lower level. There’s a good selection of shops and restaurants in Concourse A with more located in the connector between Concourses A and B.
Level 4 of the concourse has a Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, Air India Maharaja Lounge, and an Emirates Lounge.
Concourse B has 29 gates numbered B20, B22 to B39, and B41 on the upper level and B42 to B49 and B51 on the lower level. There’s a Minute Suites, XpresSpa, and a large choice of shops and restaurants in the concourse.
JFK Terminal 5
Terminal 5 is situated on the east side of the airport and is connected to the TWA Hotel. JetBlue and several other airlines operate out of Terminal 5 for domestic and international flights, and passengers may park in the yellow parking garage for the easiest access.
Level 1 – Baggage Claim
Baggage claim and a USO Lounge are located on level 1 of Terminal 5. A welcome center is located in the arrivals hall and ground transportation is available at the arrivals curbside.
Level 2 – Arrival Gates
The international flight arrival gates are on level 2, and after processing, passengers will continue into the main arrivals hall. Hotel guests can also walk along the connector bridges between Terminal 5 and the TWA Hotel on this level.
Level 3 – Departure Concourse
When you clear security, you’ll have gates 22 to 30 to the left, gates 1 to 7 to the right, and gates 8 to 12 and 14 to 21 straight ahead along the long corridor. Terminal 5 has shops and restaurants located pre-security and a wide selection after security.
Hot Tip: If connecting from Terminal 5, then you would need to take the escalator or elevator from arrivals to the Skywalk, where there are moving walkways to take you to the AirTrain.
JFK Terminal 7
Terminal 7 is used for both domestic and international flights operated by United Airlines, Icelandair, Eurowings, and several other airlines.
Level 1 – Baggage Claim
Baggage claim and Customs and Immigration are located on level 1. There are very few places to eat or shop outside of the secure area on the arrivals or departure levels.
Level 2 – Check-in
Check-in and the security checkpoint are located on level 2. When you clear security, you will need to take the escalator to level 3 for departures.
Level 3 – Departure Concourse
Terminal 7 has 10 departure gates, an Alaska Airlines Lounge, and a good selection of shops and restaurants. Gates 1 to 6 are to the left, gates 7 and 8 are straight ahead, and gates 9 to 11, 11A, and 12 are to the right.
JFK Terminal 8
Terminal 8 is located in the northwest side of the airport and operates both domestic and international flights. Terminal 8 has 33 gates split across Concourses B and C.
Level 1 – Arrivals
Customs and Immigration and baggage claim are located on level 1. A Dunkin’ is available for refreshments and there’s a welcome center in the arrivals hall. The AirTrain walkway is accessible from level 2.
Level 3 – Check-in and Concourse A
Check-in is located on level 3 with the security checkpoint. Once clearing security, passengers will arrive into the central concourse area with a good choice of shops and restaurants.
Once you’ve passed through security, you’ll enter Concourse A first with gates 1 to 8, 10, and 12 to the left and gates 14, 16, 18, and 20 to the right. There’s a good selection of shops and restaurants along the concourse and the joint lounges for British Airways and American Airlines are located on level 4.
Level 3 – Concourse B
To reach Concourse B, you’ll need to go straight from security and walk to the terminal via the underground tunnel. Gates 31A to D and gate 42 are to the left and gates 43 to 47 are to the right.
There’s a small selection of cafes, restaurants, and shops along the concourse and an Admirals Club.
Flight Connections at JFK
For all domestic-to-domestic and domestic-to-international flight connections from a different terminal, you’ll need to exit the terminal and re-clear security. If you’ve booked 2 flights on 1 reservation, then double-check any checked luggage is tagged through to your final destination.
If you’re connecting between domestic flights or domestic-to-international, and your onward flight departs from the same terminal you arrive at, then you wouldn’t have to re-clear security (provided you have an onward boarding card and your luggage doesn’t need re-checking).
For international-to-international or international-to-domestic connections, passengers will have to clear Immigration, claim baggage, and then clear Customs. After passing through Customs, there are recheck counters available for bags tagged to an onward destination.
Hot Tip: Be sure to leave plenty of time to transfer to the next terminal as security checkpoint times can vary, and consider whether you will have to check in and bag-drop if you’ve booked 2 flights separately.
All terminals at JFK are accessible to those with mobility issues and wheelchair users. There are elevators stationed at all level changes and for access to the AirTrain, where each train has 2 designated wheelchair areas. All airlines offer accessibility services if you request this before your flight.
Hopping on the AirTrain is a quick and convenient way to get between terminals at JFK, with the current exclusion of Terminal 1. The only downside is the lack of post-security transportation, unlike the post-security people-mover at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. However, Atlanta receives criticism about not having enough pre-security transportation options, so there’s no right or wrong answer here.
As the terminals have received renovations at different times over the years, there is a clear difference between the facilities and the modernization of each building. If you’re arriving early or are planning a layover at JFK, then be sure to check out the restaurants and shops available to you pre-security to establish whether you would be better off waiting out your time at another terminal.
For more information about JFK, check out this in-depth review that has everything travelers need to know about JFK.
Featured Image Credit: mindconcepts via Pixabay
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you get between terminals at JFK?
The quickest and easiest way to get between terminals at JFK is by hopping on the AirTrain. This operates 24/7 between all terminals, excluding Terminal 1, which has an extended station closure due to ongoing construction work. The AirTrain is free to ride for connecting between terminals or to Federal Circle or Lefferts Boulevard stations.
How do I get from JFK to the AirTrain?
The AirTrain is located outside each terminal, excluding Terminal 1, which has an extended station closure due to ongoing construction work. As the AirTrain runs on an elevated platform, from arrivals you will need to take an elevator to the upper level and follow the signs for the AirTrain.
Do you have to go through security between terminals at JFK?
The AirTrain operates outside the secure area, so passengers have to re-clear security when connecting between all terminals.
Can you walk between terminals at JFK?
There are sidewalks around the airport; however, JFK doesn’t promote walking between terminals as a way of getting around as the roads are busy outside of the terminals. It is possible to walk between some of the terminals that are closer together, such as Terminals 4 and 5.
Do you have to pay for JFK AirTrain?
The AirTrain is free to ride for passengers traveling between terminals, or to Federal Circle and Lefferts Boulevard stations. If you start or finish your journey at Jamaica or Howard Beach Station, then the fee is $8.25 per one-way route.
Was this page helpful?
UP's Bonus Valuation
This bonus value is an estimated valuation calculated by UP after analyzing redemption options, transfer partners, award availability and how much UP would pay to buy these points.