Between the dueling garbage fires that are the subway and NYC’s airports, it feels like we’re better off just staying home.
But there are places to see and lives to be lived, so travel, we must.
The next time you find yourself in a JFK or LGA bind, we’ve got 10 great hacks for making the whole affair a little more bearable.
Spoiler: invest in TSA’s pre-check and never, ever go to Newark.
Headed to LGA? Uber lets you schedule a ride 30 days in advance. Do that. If you’re into more economical or communal transport, try the New York Airport Service Express Bus, the ETS Air Shuttle or Super Shuttle Manhattan. Avoid rush hour, and the whole ordeal should only take 45 minutes (versus, say, a hour and a half). Not too shabby. If you’re headed to JFK, use the LIRR. It’ll take you about 35 minutes from the city and, bonus, it’s BYOB. If you’re driving and parking, well, there’s a reservation app for that too. And if you’re flying in and out of two different airports, Park Plus will move your car for you.
That Damn Line
It’s happened to the best of us. You get to the airport with a perfect amount of time. Then you nearly faint when you see a line that bordering on cronut territory. Fortune favors the prepared. Download MiFlight to check on terminal wait times and plan accordingly. You can also check the TSA site for the same.
Get Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, which will both allow you to keep your shoes on. Make an appointment ahead of time; in N.Y., you may have to wait a few weeks. If you need it done sooner, head out of town and you’ll likely get an appointment day of. I went to D.C. and it was a snap. Also, pro tip: lotion containing fragrance often contains a small amount of glycerine, which can read as a bomb threat to the machines that swab your hands. So skip the topicals beforehand. And downloading Mobile Passport won’t hurt.
The Bag Situation
If you’re still checking bags — What are you doing? Edit yourself and pack a freakin’ carry-on. Or if you want to get really crazy, use the DUFL app. Sign up and the company will clean, pack and ship all your stuff between destinations.
One time, just as my flight was taking off from JFK, I realized that I had left my laptop at the security gate. You know why? Shake Shack breakfast sandwiches in Terminal 4. I got two because I’m shameless and they were so awesome that I didn’t notice my bag was five pounds lighter. To make the most of it at JFK, use the AirGrub app and order your food ahead of time. If we’re talking LGA, Beigarten and the Artichoke outpost are your best bets. Either way, check out the selects in advance so you don’t end up with a soggy $15 croissant.
Know your lounges. It’s a game changer. The NYC MVP is hands down the Virgin Atlantic clubhouse at JFK. There’s a free pour bar, pool table, salon and spa. Terminal 4’s Delta Sky Club isn’t half bad, either. For the complete lowdown, download Loungebuddy. It gives you the scoop on which lounges have spirits, whether your credit card gives you gratis access and much more.
Wi-Fi is a nightmare and beyond the Boingo 15 minutes free, it’s stupid costly. The solution: bring your own. This California-made backpack from This Is Ground has the basics (loads of stealthy storage, handsome Italian leather) plus its own Wi-Fi and Tile GPS technology so you can keep track of your stuff.
Handle a Delay Like a Champ
JFK and LGA have stunning art programs that no one pays enough attention to as we elbow each other on the way to the gate. So, get some culture next time you’re delayed. If you’re in LGA, the Marine Air Terminal is something quite special: an Art Deco building from ‘37 that was once home to PanAm’s seaplanes, reknowned for the first transatlantic flight. Get a sandwich from Yankee Clipper while you’re at it. It’s the best non-chain bite there.
Should you have a long layover, treat yourself to a pedicure. After years on the road, I’ve found if you’re extra nice to the staff, they just might let you sleep in that chair at Xpress for a while, and even cover you up with a blanket.
Don’t Take Our Word for It
Download App in the Air. It’s like having a personal assistant at the airport and includes Yelp-esque reviews of lounges, eats, etc. from other frequent flyers.