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Is JFK worth the hassle over EWR for international flights?


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OK, this post is kind of targeted to (a) those who live within driving distance of EWR and JFK, or at least have used those as transfer hubs in the past; and (b) those who have done an international cruise where they flew back to the States. Well, I guess @Ray as well, since I know he flew to JFK from his home in Scotland before taking a transfer down to SJU. 😉 

I've only ever flown out of EWR, and that only domestically. JFK is a serious PITA to reach, and my memories of going there once as a kid to meet up with family friends who flew in from Italy was of a place that was seriously dingy, mammoth in size and hard to get around, and an annoying long drive to get to. More recent comments about the place here and from friends haven't improved that impression any. And EWR is only 40 minutes from my house, vs at least double that to get to JFK.

That said, from some cursory scans of international flights on Expedia and other places, it seems like if you're flying internationally, it's not-quite-but-almost the only real option if you don't want to be spending a fortune on the airfare and have a decent selection of non-stop flights. I'm specifically looking at flights back home from Dublin or Shannon, Ireland; trying to get a sense of pricing, availability, and choice of airline.

There are flights that will go non-stop to EWR from DUB or Shannon, and Aer Lingus in particular was what seemed reasonably priced for that in the same time frame this year as I'll be flying home next year. But JFK just seems to get the most flights, the best options for non-stop flights, and the lowest fares along with that. I was already planning to hire a limo to pick us up at the airport and drive us home; dunno how much more that'll cost from JFK vs. EWR, but I doubt it would be more than the likely savings I'd get on the flight for the four of us, never mind the better non-stop and arrival time options.

What's the experience like of actually flying into that airport, getting your baggage, and finding your way out of there to the car pickup? If you've tried pricing out flights into both airports, has JFK always been the winner on price, flexibility / choices, or both?

On a related note, is it usually worth it to fly the "home field" airline (e.g., Aer Lingus when flying out of Ireland) when doing these kinds of one-way flights, or is it still better to stick with the US-based airlines? I have no significant loyalty or miles accumulated with any airline at this point, so that's not a factor; I just want to get the best price for my family of four while still having a reasonably comfortable transatlantic flight home, and I'll sacrifice some time on the drive home if it means I can get a better flight at a better price.

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2 hours ago, JLMoran said:

OK, this post is kind of targeted to (a) those who live within driving distance of EWR and JFK, or at least have used those as transfer hubs in the past; and (b) those who have done an international cruise where they flew back to the States. Well, I guess @Ray as well, since I know he flew to JFK from his home in Scotland before taking a transfer down to SJU. 😉 

I've only ever flown out of EWR, and that only domestically. JFK is a serious PITA to reach, and my memories of going there once as a kid to meet up with family friends who flew in from Italy was of a place that was seriously dingy, mammoth in size and hard to get around, and an annoying long drive to get to. More recent comments about the place here and from friends haven't improved that impression any. And EWR is only 40 minutes from my house, vs at least double that to get to JFK. Having flown into both JFK &EWR there is very little to choose between the two if heading into Manhatten, however there is no doubt EWR would be better time wise since you're a Jersey Boy 😉 

That said, from some cursory scans of international flights on Expedia and other places, it seems like if you're flying internationally, it's not-quite-but-almost the only real option if you don't want to be spending a fortune on the airfare and have a decent selection of non-stop flights. I'm specifically looking at flights back home from Dublin or Shannon, Ireland; trying to get a sense of pricing, availability, and choice of airline.

There are flights that will go non-stop to EWR from DUB or Shannon, and Aer Lingus in particular was what seemed reasonably priced for that in the same time frame this year as I'll be flying home next year. But JFK just seems to get the most flights, the best options for non-stop flights, and the lowest fares along with that. I was already planning to hire a limo to pick us up at the airport and drive us home; dunno how much more that'll cost from JFK vs. EWR, but I doubt it would be more than the likely savings I'd get on the flight for the four of us, never mind the better non-stop and arrival time options. I know that if you fly Aer Lingus from Dublin customs are TSA regulated, this means once you pass through customs in Dublin your "INTERNATIONAL" flight is actually a " DOMESTIC" flight meaning no customs check when you land. i'm not sure if this applies to other airlines flying out of Dublin to New York

What's the experience like of actually flying into that airport, getting your baggage, and finding your way out of there to the car pickup? If you've tried pricing out flights into both airports, has JFK always been the winner on price, flexibility / choices, or both? No!!! i know you are looking at Non Stop but ICELANDAIR is a good choice, short stop in Iceland, then down to EWR, Icelandair is the 2nd best airline i have flown, big seats with more legroom. 

On a related note, is it usually worth it to fly the "home field" airline (e.g., Aer Lingus when flying out of Ireland) when doing these kinds of one-way flights, or is it still better to stick with the US-based airlines? I have no significant loyalty or miles accumulated with any airline at this point, so that's not a factor; I just want to get the best price for my family of four while still having a reasonably comfortable transatlantic flight home, and I'll sacrifice some time on the drive home if it means I can get a better flight at a better price. My wife leaves the booking of all flights, hotels etc to me, we have flown some strange airlines, phillipinnes Airlines (which is the  Best airline i've flown ) Cebu Pacific, Gulf Air to name a few ) The bigger more well known airlines are not always the best..

 

 

 

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9 minutes ago, Ray said:

I know that if you fly Aer Lingus from Dublin customs are TSA regulated, this means once you pass through customs in Dublin your "INTERNATIONAL" flight is actually a " DOMESTIC" flight meaning no customs check when you land. i'm not sure if this applies to other airlines flying out of Dublin to New York

US Pre-Clearance @ DUB (and Shannon) is not specific to any one airline. As far as I know, every US-bound flight from DUB uses the Terminal 2 US Immigration/Customs Pre-Clearance facility.

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Newark and JFK are both... put nicely.. bad airports. Although never flown into EWR on an international return, departing from EWR on an international flight is as normal as a domestic flight. Security and all that is pretty much the same, and add the normal tarmac delays, but that goes for either airport. Returning into JFK is hit or miss, but the customs process in the shared JetBlue / TAP Portugal terminal is very smooth and through retina with only a human interaction at the end. 

I have no input on whether airlines known to a certain country are any better than a “big-three” US carrier. TAP provides the same experience that United, American or Delta would provide. 

1 hour ago, twangster said:

Does PHL have any flights?

PHL has lots of flights to Europe, with a few to Rome, Venice, London and even Prague. 

 

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44 minutes ago, bigpete said:

I have no input on whether airlines known to a certain country are any better than a “big-three” US carrier. TAP provides the same experience that United, American or Delta would provide.

 

Frankly, having done American, United, Delta, BA, Aer Lingus, Iberia, TAP, Swiss, Lufthansa, KLM, Brussels, LOT, Air France, Austrian, and SAS longhaul all in economy within the last 5-7 years, they're all the same - inconsistent.

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2 hours ago, twangster said:

Does PHL have any flights?

Philly is actually an even longer drive for me than JFK (around 2 1/2 hours vs 90 minutes), since I'm much more towards the eastern side of NJ than the western side and also have to travel south to Route 78. I could look and see if there are inbound flights from DUB that were any better, but that's already going to be a long flight and I'm not sure I want to be spending that much time (or money!) getting driven back home.

1 hour ago, Ray said:

No!!! i know you are looking at Non Stop but ICELANDAIR is a good choice, short stop in Iceland, then down to EWR, Icelandair is the 2nd best airline i have flown, big seats with more legroom. 

That would be more than a little ironic if I did that -- I'll have spent 3 days in Iceland just the week prior, as that's our last major port stop before ending the cruise in Dublin. Not saying I won't consider it, if the price isn't massively out of line and the layover isn't long, but it really would be funny to stop back there even for a little bit! Heck, at that point I might even look for a flight with a longer layover so we could get a little extra time in Reykjavik! 😅

46 minutes ago, bigpete said:

PHL has lots of flights to Europe, with a few to Rome, Venice, London and even Prague.

To be clear, I'm only looking at these airports as destinations for the return flight. The cruise departs from Cape Liberty, so I won't need to worry about any flights to Europe, just the one coming back. But I do appreciate the feedback. 🙂

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  @JLMoran  I live about 25 miles from JFK. It's my choice airport and really only the only choice in most cases. LaGuardia is the huge PITA.  Getting to JFK is a pain depending on traffic and it's HUGE. I rarely drive there myself now, usually Uber/Lyft but next month I'm doing a park and ride with a nearby company (land trip to Italy!!!). Security lines to me are the same everywhere, it depends on the time of day/year/week. I will say this - Body searches- somehow I've been picked for extra searches leaving NY. Never coming back, just leaving.

The traffic - don't go during rush hour. The Belt Parkway is no one's friend. I have family in Staten Island so I'm pretty used to it and it's better than it was in the past but TRAFFFFICCCCC. Unfortunately my flight is at 9:30pm so I'm limited - probably will leave ridiculously early just to not sit in Friday night traffic. Once you've made it to the airport and are at the right gate - it's fine. I had the same dilemma with my flight, I could've chosen EWR for a cheaper flight but when it came down to it, I didn't wanna. Too far. Not worth it. Plus, by the time I fly back in I'd just flew for almost 10 hours. I wanna be as close to home as possible.

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2 hours ago, JLMoran said:

To be clear, I'm only looking at these airports as destinations for the return flight. The cruise departs from Cape Liberty, so I won't need to worry about any flights to Europe, just the one coming back. But I do appreciate the feedback. 🙂

What airport do you need it from? 

The major carriers of both Europe and America overcharge for booking a one way ticket on transatlantic routes.  They do not charge you extra if you are using miles. I know that airlines like TAP or Norwegian do not charge. How does Stewart airport sound? Norwegian has flights to there too...

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I live in Bergen county, not far from the GWB.  Out of the 3 NYC area airports, JFK is the hardest to get to, but it's not as bad as you imagine.  You won't be driving yourself anyway, so does it really matter?  It just means that the car service or uber bill will be more expensive.

JFK has many terminals, and they are all quite different.  It's not like EWR that has one nice one (C) and two crummy ones (A and B).  So I can't really answer your question on how "good" the terminal -- it really depends on the airline much more then other airports.

I tend to use all 3 airports.  I can actually get to LGA faster then EWR if I leave really early in the morning.  Something to think about next time you need to fly Domestically.

Make sure you look into booking the flight though the cruise line.  I've gotten great prices for international flights, especially for one way flights.  I used Royal Carribean's version to fly round trip to Denmark for a cruise to Norway, and Cunard's for a one way flight back after a QM2 transatlantic.  I flew in a few days early for the Norway cruise, to explore Copenhagen, and stayed in London for a few days after the transatlantic. 

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9 hours ago, JLMoran said:

What's the experience like of actually flying into that airport, getting your baggage, and finding your way out of there to the car pickup?

I have flown into JFK internationally a number of times and have not had any issues.  I live on long island, about 20 minutes from JFK, and on my last trip the time from gate to front door was just over an hour.   It was also 5AM so there was zero traffic.  On that trip I used Lyft, but normally I use a limo service which works equally well.  JFK has 6 terminals and each one is different.  If I researched it properly, Aer Lingus arrives at Terminal 5 and I have no experience with that terminal.  I always land at terminal 4 (Delta) which is a very large terminal so there is a lot of walking and a large curbside pickup area.  You need to arrange with your ride where you will be picked up, there are signs marked Passenger Area A-D, and whether the car will be on inside or outside road.  When you come out of the terminal you have to cross the street to the island and pickups can happen on either side of the island although Uber and Lyft are always on the outside.  I also highly recommend using the mobile passport app, it definitely saves time through customs.

Truthfully, I think your biggest issue is not JFK but the car ride home.  The Belt Parkway and Staten Island Expressway can be a nightmare.  Accidents, construction and rubber necking can easily double the time it takes to get to NJ.  If you have any choices on arrival times I would try and stay away from morning and evening rush hour.

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2 hours ago, karl_nj said:

Make sure you look into booking the flight though the cruise line.  I've gotten great prices for international flights, especially for one way flights.

Yes, this is something I've read repeatedly here when it comes to international flights. It's not so good for domestic, but for whatever reason they seem to have the best rates available for overseas flights. And now they're allowing you not pay for the tickets until final payment date, although you're not actually ticketed with the airline until you do pay.

Flights through the cruise line won't be available until September, but I'm trying to get some research on this done now so I've got some kind of game plan going in.

3 hours ago, bigpete said:

What airport do you need it from? 

We're looking at departing from DUB or SNN (Shannon) in Ireland. Not sure which yet, first we need to decide how many days we plan to stay in Ireland after the cruise ends; looking at 3 to 5 days right now, so we'd have some time to explore and maybe make our way around the coast a bit. We arrive in Dublin on a Sunday, so 3 days would mean leaving on a Wednesday; if I'm remembering rightly (always a chancy thing these days 😉), flying out one-way on a Wednesday or Thursday is supposed to be a bit better cost-wise than going out on a Friday or Saturday.

But if the missus wants to have the extra couple of days to explore and sight see, I won't tell her no. I'm lucky enough to get four weeks of vacation each year, so I've already planned on using three of them on this trip and wouldn't be averse to using part or all the fourth one.

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Although most of my fights to the US are landing in EWR (flying United)  I used JFK from time to time.

I prefer EWR any time due to traffic/proximity (most of the time I had meetings in Middletown )  and car renting location. 

It seems you need one way ticket which cost more in most of the companies (beside the low cost and very few others). I would also check to fly from London as the United flights from London can be much cheaper to EWR , you can take a cheap low cost flight to London go directly home (but I guess you will need to change airport) or even stay a day or two in London, Yes I know its adding to the distance but maybe it will be cheaper.

If there is one thing which I do not like in EWR its the migration when you come from Europe , seem that all the flights from Europe landing on the same time (between 3:30 and 5 PM) and all I landing in terminal B and not C , the migration/custom  can take long time even for US citizens (unless you can use the automatic machines). 

 

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5 hours ago, twangster said:

A disadvantage of the don't pay now Air2Sea model is that you can't book actual seats, until they pay the airline, which may not be when you would like if you are particular about seats and sitting together.  Once they do, seating may be less than ideal.

That hasn't been my experience.  There might have been another reason for not being able to reserve seats.  Some of the European airlines don't offer reserved seats, even for long haul flights.

This FAQ even says that you should be able to:  http://creative.rccl.com/Sales/Royal/Air2Sea/17054737_Air2sea_trade_flyer.pdf,  and http://creative.rccl.com/Sales/Royal/Air2Sea/18066051_Air2Sea_Pay_Later_FAQ.pdf although it's vague on "when".

When I used Air2Sea for my Norway cruise, I actually had the opposite experience -- I was able to book seats in the Air2Sea system, even though I wasn't "supposed" to be able to reserve seats w/o paying an extra fee, as I was flying SAS.  However, this was a few years ago, back when Air2Sea made you pay for the flight at booking, not with Final Cruise Payment.

I've also used a similar service that Princess runs, EZAir, for Princess and Cunard.  Much like Air2Sea now, you don't need to pay for the flight until Final Cruise Payment.  I was able to reserve seats for my QM2 transatlantic flight back, but that was on Delta and they let you reserve seats, even before final payment.  I forget if I was able to reserve seats when I used it for a Princess Alaska cruise.  I vaguely recall being able to do it for one leg of the trip, but not the other, as I was flying two different airlines. 

You do get the airline confirmation number, so you should be able to login to the airline website directly, once the booking is made.  If the seat selection made in Air2Sea doesn't get transmitted, another option would be to try to pick it on the airline website.  You should confirm your flight in the other system after booking anyway.

I ended up having to cancel the Princess Cruise (before final payment), so i'm very happy that I used EZAir for my booking.  So that is another advantage.

I do concede that I have not personally used Air2Sea since they changed the system to not require payment for the flight until Final Cruise Payment.

TL;DR: My experience has been that not being able to book seats is more related to specific airline rules, and not using Air2Sea.

 

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My 2 cents:  in doing some preliminary research for a May 2020 sailing out of Barcelona, it looks to me like flights from EWR to BCN are much less costly than from JFK to BCN. For whatever reason.

Another odd thing, it looks like I can fly to EWR from here in DFW, then EWR to BCN for about half of what it costs to set up a DFW to BCN flight. 

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19 minutes ago, Michael Vitale said:

My 2 cents:  in doing some preliminary research for a May 2020 sailing out of Barcelona, it looks to me like flights from EWR to BCN are much less costly than from JFK to BCN. For whatever reason.

Another odd thing, it looks like I can fly to EWR from here in DFW, then EWR to BCN for about half of what it costs to set up a DFW to BCN flight. 

We had the exact same experience 4 years ago. 

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6 hours ago, twangster said:

A disadvantage of the don't pay now Air2Sea model is that you can't book actual seats, until they pay the airline, which may not be when you would like if you are particular about seats and sitting together.  Once they do, seating may be less than ideal.

1 hour ago, karl_nj said:

That hasn't been my experience.  There might have been another reason for not being able to reserve seats.

...

You do get the airline confirmation number, so you should be able to login to the airline website directly, once the booking is made.  If the seat selection made in Air2Sea doesn't get transmitted, another option would be to try to pick it on the airline website.  You should confirm your flight in the other system after booking anyway.

I've read on another forum from others who used the option to not pay until final payment, and discovered (in at least one case far too late) they too didn't actually have their seats reserved. On speaking with a rep they were told that, as @twangster noted, the flight wasn't actually ticketed yet with the airline (i.e, airline wasn't paid) and thus the airline wouldn't reserve those seats for them. I figure that I'll just play it safe and pay for the tickets when I book them, since it's going to be a good 11 months ahead of sail date / 8 months ahead of final payment. Spreading out the charges and all that fun stuff. 😉 

Plus, it's definitely important to me that the four of us be able to sit together. My older daughter is a lot better now about flying than she was when she was younger, but she still gets anxious during takeoff and ascent. I'd rather have her by us and able to clutch one of our hands if needed than have to ask a stranger. And I imagine we'll be spending the whole flight talking with each other about the awesome three weeks we had and all the things we saw and did! 😁

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1 hour ago, JLMoran said:

I've read on another forum from others who used the option to not pay until final payment, and discovered (in at least one case far too late) they too didn't actually have their seats reserved. On speaking with a rep they were told that, as @twangster noted, the flight wasn't actually ticketed yet with the airline (i.e, airline wasn't paid) and thus the airline wouldn't reserve those seats for them. I figure that I'll just play it safe and pay for the tickets when I book them, since it's going to be a good 11 months ahead of sail date / 8 months ahead of final payment. Spreading out the charges and all that fun stuff. 😉 

Plus, it's definitely important to me that the four of us be able to sit together. My older daughter is a lot better now about flying than she was when she was younger, but she still gets anxious during takeoff and ascent. I'd rather have her by us and able to clutch one of our hands if needed than have to ask a stranger. And I imagine we'll be spending the whole flight talking with each other about the awesome three weeks we had and all the things we saw and did! 😁

This is where cruise line air causes a lot of confusion - there is a big difference between having a "reservation" for air via the cruise line, and actually having a ticket with the airline. The cruise lines will basically put you in whatever flight works best for them, and that may not be determined until you pay and they actually look at what's available in their stock. It's one of the (rather big) trade offs for the lower price on one-way international flights.

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I'm sorry I'm not much help as we've only flown internationally out of EWR and JFK. In September, we flew JFK to CPH direct on Norwegian Air as we only needed a one way flight.

If you're looking at using Norwegian Air due to their tempting one way fares, I strongly advise you to use caution. We only had slight problems (hour+ delay, don't bother to pick your seat. My aisle turned until a middle with no recourse).

 

However, there were well over 100 people on our transatlantic cruise who had a Sunday evening flight with them for our Tuesday afternoon cruise departure. Their fight was so delayed that we stayed in port till just before 9pm (4p scheduled departure) waiting for them. Our first stop was only in Sweden and the port was not in a hurry to kick us out. But none of these folks got to spend any time in Copenhagen and had about a 36 hour delay. 

We have arrived internationally in PHL. That was a nightmare. If our connection wasn't seriously delayed, we'd never have made it with a 90 min buffer. 

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1 hour ago, SweetPea said:

If you're looking at using Norwegian Air due to their tempting one way fares, I strongly advise you to use caution. We only had slight problems (hour+ delay, don't bother to pick your seat. My aisle turned until a middle with no recourse).

 

However, there were well over 100 people on our transatlantic cruise who had a Sunday evening flight with them for our Tuesday afternoon cruise departure. Their fight was so delayed that we stayed in port till just before 9pm (4p scheduled departure) waiting for them. Our first stop was only in Sweden and the port was not in a hurry to kick us out. But none of these folks got to spend any time in Copenhagen and had about a 36 hour delay. 

Wow, not at all a ringing endorsement for that airline! I hadn't really been considering them before -- as I've hinted at, I'm mainly looking at Aer Lingus as the "home town favorite" option for leaving Ireland, although @Ray's recommendation of Iceland Air has me giving them some serious thought. Especially since going through Iceland is basically right along the Great Circle path that the flight would likely have to take anyway. Aside from those two non-US carriers, I'll give United a shot since I'm in their frequent flyer program, and maybe Delta after seeing some decent feedback about them in another forum. Those are just the airlines I know something about and that I'm hoping will have at least one reasonably priced option each. If I find others when I use the cruise line's booking service I'll certainly consider them, but those are the top four in my list right now.

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9 hours ago, JLMoran said:

I've read on another forum from others who used the option to not pay until final payment, and discovered (in at least one case far too late) they too didn't actually have their seats reserved. On speaking with a rep they were told that, as @twangster noted, the flight wasn't actually ticketed yet with the airline (i.e, airline wasn't paid) and thus the airline wouldn't reserve those seats for them. I figure that I'll just play it safe and pay for the tickets when I book them, since it's going to be a good 11 months ahead of sail date / 8 months ahead of final payment. Spreading out the charges and all that fun stuff. 😉

Sounds like the safest option.  It's certainly possible that when you choose to pay at Final Payment, Air2Sea works differently then Princess/Cunard EZAir.  I do agree that getting seat assignments is quite important when traveling with kids, so i'll keep this in mind for the future, in case I ever want to use Air2Sea again.

It's also possible that these people lost their seats for other reasons, and whoever they spoke to at the call center didn't accurately describe what happened.  People lose their seats when airlines change plane types, people run into ticketing issues even when they book directly with the airline, and there are often issues when one computer system talks to another system and doesn't accurately transfer every piece of data.

 

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Not sure if this helps but my DD was recently in England & Ireland for vacation.  She flew United out of Newark round trip (she uses them for work and has the credit card) She flew Ryan air back & forth between both countries and said it was a breeze.  I only mention it because her round trip airfare out of Newark was less than $500.  Just giving you another option.  

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