John F. Kennedy International Airport, affectionately called JFK Airport by New Yorkers and frequent visitors is the busiest airport in the New York state. It’s also the 6th busiest in the United States, with 8 terminals and serving over 62 million passengers per year.

JFK Airport is a hub for American Airlines and Delta Airlines, but passengers can fly in or out via 70 different airlines here. It’s also a focus city for JetBlue and Norwegian Air Shuttle.

photo by ERIC SALARD (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

History of John F. Kennedy International Airport

What would eventually become JFK Airport was opened in 1948 as Idlewild Airport in recognition of the golf course over which it was built but changed its name to New York International Airport, Anderson Field just months later. In 1963, it was renamed following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in his honour.

Expansion continued for many years after initial construction, with Terminal 3 and Terminal 6 demolished to make room for new features. Most of the airport was completely remodelled beginning in 2017, with an ongoing expansion plan continuing on at the airport for many years later.

photo by Martin St-Amant (CC BY 3.0) modified

Highlights and features of John F. Kennedy International Airport

Initially, the airport covered just 1,000 acres of marshy land. An additional 1,350 acres was added in 1944 during initial construction, with more land added over time. Today, JFK Airport spans almost 5,000 acres. The central terminal alone covers 880 acres.

Today, the airport boasts 6 terminals (1, 2, 4, 5, 7, and 8), arranged in a U or rectangular shape. The only exception is the former Tower Air Terminal, which is set apart.

Each terminal has a dedicated parking area adjacent to it, although terminals 8 and 5 have much less parking than the others. Terminal 1 and 2 share a large parking area, while Terminal 4 has the largest parking area.

photo by Giorgio Montersino (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

What's good to know about John F. Kennedy International Airport?

Terminal 1 offers a food court on the mezzanine level, while the concourse level boasts sit-down restaurants, shops, and other attractions. Terminal 2 has its own restaurants, while Terminal 4 offers everything from a pet care station to bars and restaurants. Terminal 5 is where you’ll find the Skywalk that connects to the AirTrain, as well as a walkway leading to the Saarinen Terminal and the TWA Hotel.

Terminal 7 offers access to pet stations, restaurants, and the British Airways Concorde Lounge. Terminal 8 is where you’ll find 2 American Airlines Admirals Club Lounges, as well as assorted bars, restaurants, and other services.

How to get around John F. Kennedy International Airport?

Getting around the airport can seem difficult, but the rectangular layout aids in navigation. Most first-time visitors can simply follow the roadway around the complex to find their terminal and parking.

Alternatively, you can park outside the airport and take the AirTrain to your terminal for less hassle. Note that you’ll find 3 coloured lines – red runs counter-clockwise and starts and finishes at Jamaica Station while stopping at all terminals, yellow runs clockwise around the entire airport in a loop and stops at all terminals, and green runs counter-clockwise, starting and finishing at Howard Beach Station but stopping at all terminals.

Travellers can find the JFK Jitney shuttle (operated by Delta and free for passengers) to take them between Terminals 2 and 4.

John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York

Location: Queens, NY 11430, USA

Phone: +1 718-244-4444

Valerie Mellema | Contributing Writer