JFK Airport Overview and History

‘John F. (Fitzgerald) Kennedy international airport’ was originally named ‘Idlewild’ a name that was common even after it was renamed ‘Major General Alexander E. Anderson Airport’ in 1943.

The name ‘Idlewind’ belonged to a real-estate developer who had resort properties in Jamaica (in Queens Borough) next to the JFK airport that was later named the golf club of Jamaica. Since the 40’s ‘Idlewild’ was the planning name of yet to be launched airport. In 1948, it was named ‘New York International Airport, Anderson Field’.Both the City Council and the then Mayor LaGuardia argued on what to call it the final decision was to dedicate it in honor of slain president John F. It again was renamed 

Later, On December 24, 1963, the airport was renamed John F. Kennedy International Airport. JFK airport is publicly owned by the City of New York and is jointly managed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ). PANYNJ has been in existence since 1921 and now manages 5 airports in the larger New York City area specifically JFK, Newark Liberty, Teterboro, NY Stewart, and LaGuardia. PANYNJ operates a centralized lost registry and tracing on its site here.

The video below compares JFK with the two other main airports in the larger NYC Metro area;

The Original Name of JFK Airport

The original name of JFK Airport that was used during its entire planning years from the early 1940s to 1948 was Idlewild. This was a name of a developer that owned resort properties next to the airport that was later converted into a golf club. Some sources claim that Idlewind was renamed ‘New York International Airport, Anderson Field’ in 1948 while others including NYC’s Park website and Baruch CUNY claim that the name wasn’t renamed until its official change on Dec 24, 1963, following a resolution by the then Mayor Robert F. Wagner and the Commissioners of the Port Authority.

Following the death of John. F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, there was a lot of attachment that US citizens felt about JFK, the 35th President of the US who was assassinated. A month later, the City Council passed a resolution to name NY’s largest airport in honor of him JFK.

So, why was JFK Constructed in the first place?

LaGuardia Airport served the entire New York Metropolitan Area and the thought of reducing traffic in LaGuardia led to the initial plans and ultimate development of JFK. Prior to 1947, it was just the City Authority planning and making commitments but this became a reality in 1947 when the Port Authority leased the JFK property from the City of New York.

There was a lot of pushback from engineers who claimed that the space leased by the Port Authority was not enough to meet the requirements of the planned single 55-gate terminal. Architect Wallace Harrison stepped in and designed a circular terminal framework that enabled each airline to design its own terminal. This made the design much more efficient and gave airlines an equal playing field to design their own terminal spaces.

Bobby Kennedy Present at the Official Name of the Airport after his brother JFK.
Bobby Kennedy Present at the Official Name of the Airport after his brother JFK. Credit: Here

JFK’s space-saving design wasn’t the first for Wallace Harrison. He had also completed other projects such as the iconic Rockefeller Center, among other 20+ landmark properties in NY. Here is his Wiki profile.

Below is an official logo of JFK:

jfk offical logo

Below is a video of a showing JFK Airport:

Location/Google Maps/GPS address

The airport is located in Queens, NY 11430, United States. Its GPS coordinates are 40°38′23″N 073°46′44″W / 40.63972°N 73.77889°W. On your car or taxi GPS, you can input the texts “JFK Terminal 1W, Address” or “Queens, NY 11430” on the address search bar.

The video below shows the pilot’s view of JFK who was flying a Boeing 787 into NY JFK Airport:

JFK Ground Transportation 

 AirTrain JFK connects JFK Airport to the New York City Subway and Long Island Rail Road.  It stops at all airport terminals, hotel shuttle areas, parking lots, car rental lots, Howard Beach-JFK Airport subway station on the IND Rockaway Line (A train), the Jamaica LIRR station and Sutphin Boulevard–Archer Avenue–JFK Airport subway station on the Archer Avenue Line (Z, ​J, and ​E trains).

Image result for JFK airport

New York City’s yellow cabs offer a flat-rate fare of $52 from JFK Airport to Manhattan, exclusive of tips and toll. This flat-rate service has been in place since November 30, 2006, additionally, it applies to travel from Manhattan to JFK as well. The travel duration falls in the range of 35 minutes to as long as 90 minutes depending on the time of day. Door-to-door car service is also an available transportation option.

From one terminal to another, there are shuttle buses for passengers.  Quite a number of city buses including the Q3, Q6, Q7, Q10, B15 connect the airport to the Long Island Rail Road, and the New York City Subway with free transfers provided for subway connections. The Q3, Q10, and the B15 buses all serve the Central Terminal Area through a dedicated bus stop at the former Terminal 6. Additionally, Q6 operates only on the eastern Cargo Area D and the USPS Airport Mail facility while the Q7 serves only Cargo Area C. There are also numerous private bus lines operating express buses to Manhattan, Long Island, and the Hudson Valley.

 A ring road connects the airport terminals to the Van Wyck Expressway and the Belt Parkway. The airport has over 17,000 parking spaces, included in surface spaces in the Central Terminal Area, valet parking and a long-term parking lot.

 Tesla, Inc. has a supercharger (fast vehicle station) at the airport.  There are also privately operated parking facilities near the airport.

(Source)

JFK Official Website

How big is JFK? Gate, Runways & Passengers per year 

John F. Kennedy International Airport traverses 5,200 acres or 21 square kilometers (8.1 sq mi) (Source). It has four runways; two pairs of parallel runways surrounding the central terminal area. In 2018, the port handled 61,909,148 passengers (Source).

How many terminals? Gates?

JKF has 6 terminals numbered 1-6 since 2 were demolished, terminal 6 in 2011, and terminal 3 in 2016.

JFK Terminals with 128 gates.

Terminal 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8:

Below is a video showing JFK’s terminal 1:

Terminal NumberAirline Name Other Airlines Names or Additional description
Number of gates
Terminal 1SkyTeam carriers –  China Eastern Airlines, Aeroflot, Alitalia, Air France, Saudia, Korean Air,
Star Alliance carriers – Austrian Airlines, Air China, Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, EVA Air,
Oneworld carrier – Japan Airlines. 



Others are-
Norwegian Air, Azerbaijan Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Cayman Airways, InterjetViva, Aerobus, Royal Air Maroc

11
Terminal 2Exclusively by Delta Air Lines
11
Terminal 4SkyTeam carriers – 
Air Europa,
Aeromexico,
China Airlines,
Xiamen Airlines,
Delta Air Lines,
Kenya Airways, KLM
 Star Alliance carriers – 
Asiana Airlines,
Air India,
Avianca,
EgyptAir,
Copa Airlines,
Singapore Airlines,
Swiss International Air Lines, South African Airways
Others are –
China Southern Airlines, Caribbean Airlines, Eastern Airlines, Air SerbiaEl Al, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Hainan Airlines, JetBlue (late night international arrivals only), Kuwait Airways, LATAM, Brasil, WestJet, LATAM Chile, Uzbekistan Airways, Volaris
38
Terminal 5JetBlue
Hawaiian Airlines
Cape Air
TAP Air Portugal
Aer Lingus

29
Terminal 7Oneworld alliance carriers – 
British Airways, Iberia,
 Star Alliance carriers – 
All Nippon Airways, LOT Polish Airlines,
SkyTeam member Aerolíneas Argentinas
Other non-alliance carriers are – 
Eurowings, Alaska Airlines, Icelandair, Ukraine International Airlines.
12
Terminal 8Oneworld alliance carriers – 
American Airlines, Royal Jordanian Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Qantas, Qatar Airways
Others include Star Alliance carrier Ethiopian Airlines.
British Airways and Iberia plan to move into terminal 8 after its renovations.

29

Airport Images: 

Below is an aerial image of JFK

An aerial view of JFK (Image credit)

Terminal 8 at JFK (Image credit)

Airport Entrance, Security checks 

The airport has a separate security check-point in all 6 terminals. The new terminals 1 and 6 feature advanced security screening with 24 security lanes planned for Terminal 1. For eligible candidates, the airport has dedicated TSA PreCheck lines within each terminal. The waiting time for each terminal is calculated in real-time and posted on the airport’s website.

The TSA has a toll-free number; it is 1-866-289-9673

JFK Weather 

Weather updates powered by Dark Sky are published daily on the airport’s website.

JFK Zip code

The airport’s zip code is 11430, which it shares with the primary city: Jamaica and secondary cities, Queens, and Jf Kennedy Ap

JFK Airport IATA Code/ICAO Code

  • IATA code: JFK 
  • ICAO code: KJFK 
  • FAA LID: JFK 
  • WMO: 74486

JFK Map:

Image credit

Safety:

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department (PAPD) enforces the law; it is also equipped to respond to fire accidents and medical emergencies

Can you smoke at JFK?

Yes, you can smoke but only in designated smoking areas outside the terminals. The rules and regulations in place allow smoking only 25feet away from any building entrance.

Airport services

SERVICES/UTILITIESDESCRIPTION
Visa Processing/Customs /Customs ProcedureAll terminals, except terminal 2, have customs clearance facilities. This should take less time if you have nothing to declare. Otherwise, you present your custom declaration form to the customs officer who asks you a few questions about your possessions. You might be selected for thorough scrutiny, if not, you proceed to the exit. To save time, for US/Canadian Passports, US Lawful Permanent Residents, B1/B2 Visas and 2nd time ESTA/VWP an automated passport control (APC) kiosk lets you scan your passport, guides you through some questions, take a photo and print out a receipt. Lastly, you proceed to an officer, who makes sure the picture matches, and clears you out to the next step.
To know where to claim your baggage, check the TV monitors. 


Airport Lounge/Where to nap/VIP Lounge If you are able to purchase a day pass, pay at the door or obtain annual membership, the following economy class lounges are available;

Air France Lounge located in Terminal 1Alaska Lounge; located in Terminal 7Delta Sky Club; located in Terminal 2 and 4.American Airlines Admirals Club; Located in Terminal 8KAL Business Class Lounge located in Terminal 1.Lufthansa Business Lounge; located in Terminal 1USO Lounge located in Terminal 5 Prime class Lounge; located in Terminal 1Swiss Business Class Lounge; located in Terminal 4.Wingtips Lounge; located in Terminal 4Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse; located in Terminal 4
The TWA hotel, a 505 room hotel, is also available for a nap within the airport.
Lost and Found Different authorities at JFK will assist you depending on where you believe you lost your valuables
If you left your baggage at the TSA Passenger Security CheckPoint, you can call TSA Lost and Found at 718-917-3999 for help in locating and your property.
If you left any of your items on the plane or in the terminal, you should reach the baggage service for the airline you flew with for help to locate and retrieve your lost property.
Terminal 4 is privately-operated. If you have lost an item here, you can reach Terminal 4 Lost and Found office at 718-751-4001
Items lost in all other JFKs’ airport non-terminal areas are under the Port Authority Police (PAP) Lost and Found Custodian where if found, they are stored for up to 30 days at the Police Desk, located in Building 269. The desk releases items 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Their phone number is 718-244-4225
Baggage Claim/Luggage/Luggage storageAll terminals, at the Arrivals level at JFK airport, have a baggage claim area.
All terminals, at the Arrivals level, pre-security, have baggage storage.
Accommodation Plus International provides luggage storage in terminal 4, Arrivals hall while Meegan Services offers the same at Terminal 8 in the arrivals area.
Luggage wrapping services are offered on Terminal 5 offers on the departure level 
Wifi There is free WIFI in all public spaces at the airport. To access it, simply select the network “_Free JFK WiFi,” then “Free unlimited wifi.” Additionally, round the clock customer phone support is available on (800) 880-4117.
Sim Card There are a variety of sim cards on sale at JFK though there have been complaints of some being scams.
Most people prefer AT&T which has an outlet open at terminal 4 till 11:30 pm.
ATMs  Available in Terminals 1, 4, 5, and 7 while Terminals 2 and 8 avails Travelex foreign currency ATMs
Forex All terminals avail currency exchange services.
Duty-Free Shops /duty-free liquor/electronics storeDuty-Free shops are available in Terminals 1, 4, 5, 7, and 8.
Airport Cafes/Food/eating (can you eat inside)/restaurantsThere are over 141 airport restaurants both pre and post-security depending on the terminal.
Terminal 2 and 7 have a limited number of restaurants pre-security.
Available restaurants can be found on airports’ website
Airport Customer Support: Phone number, email, chat Phone numbers: (718) 244-4444) general airport information(347) 238-3231 (general parking inquiries)
They have an online chatbox on their official website
Email: InspectorGeneral@panynj.gov to the port authority of New York and New Jersey especially to report fraud.
Airport Parking The airport has 6 parking lots whose capacities can be viewed in real-time on the airport’s official website.
The green lot serves but not limited to terminal 1 and 2; likewise, the blue lot to terminal 4; the yellow lot to terminal 5; the orange lot to terminal 7; while the red lot to terminal 8
Parking lots red, orange, and green cost $4 for the first ½ hour, with an additional $4 up to a maximum of $35 per day for each additional 30 mins or part thereof
Blue and yellow parking costs $5 for the first ½  hour, with an additional $5 up to a maximum of $39 per day for each additional 30 mins or part thereof
For long-term parking, Lefferts Boulevard, around 4 miles from the airport, is available. AirTrain offers fee to-and-fro rides to its Station. Fees are $18 for the first 24 hours with an additional $6 for each additional 8 hours or part thereof
All parking lots in JFK have several spaces reserved for passengers with special mobility needs. Rates are $4 for the first ½ hour, with an additional $4 up to a maximum of $18 per day for each additional 30 mins or part thereof
Airport shopThere a variety of shops including; Books & Magazines shopConvenience ShoppingDuty-FreeElectronicsFashion & AccessoriesFloristGifts & SouvenirsSpirits & WineTravel Essentials
Airport AppYes
Airport GymYes
Gas stationNo gas station at the airport but there are some around.
Fast track and priority passTo save time, for US/Canadian Passports, US Lawful Permanent Residents, B1/B2 Visas and 2nd time ESTA/VWP an automated passport control (APC) kiosk lets you scan your passport, guides you through some questions, take a photo and print out a receipt. Lastly, you proceed to an officer, who makes sure the picture matches, and clears you out to the next step.
The mobile passport control app fast tracks the immigration process too, however, it serves the US Citizens/Canada Visitors only.
Global Entry is another program available at JFK to expedite security clearance. To check on eligibility and payment, visit their website. Global Entry Enrollment Center is available in Terminal 4 arrivals next to baggage claim and Terminals 1, 4, 5, 7, and 8 allow in enrollment. 
CLEAR, a biometric system that expedites the identification of eligible passengers without having to use an ID. There are CLEAR lanes and enrollment centers at JFK in Terminals 2 and 4. 
Priority Pass, an independent lounge program, gets you to access to the following lounges
Air France LoungeKAL Business Class LoungeWingtips LoungeAlaska Lounge
At Bobby Van’s Steakhouse, Priority Pass holders can pay less for their restaurant bill using their lounge entitlement
Free shuttle Yes
Medical center/careA medical center is available at building 22A
Prayer roomThree chapels, including an interfaith at departures, terminal 4
Post office There is a United States Postal Service (USPS Airport Mail facility)
Police The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department (PAPD) has a command base in Building 269. They are equipped to handle fire as well as medical emergencies
Train connectionYes. Quite a number of city buses including the Q3, Q6, Q7, Q10, B15 connect the airport to the Long Island Rail Road.
airport live camSeveral websites offer JFK live cam feeds

Airport Delays 

You can receive free alerts and advisories from the port authority of New York and New Jersey when you subscribe to them here. Several other websites offer information on flight delays at JFK.

Arrivals today

  • How to check arrivals to the airport today

There is a flight tracker on this website where you can filter searches based on Airline or city. Additionally, there are other websites providing this information.

Departures today

  • How to check arrivals to the airport today

There is a flight tracker on this website where you can filter searches based on Airline or city. Additionally, there are other websites providing this information.


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