Now that Governor Andrew Cuomo has moved New York City into “Phase 4” of COVID-19’s new normal, getting to and from La Guardia or JFK has changed since the first days of the pandemic.
Currently, travelers can now access the low-cost round trip New York City Express Bus to both JFK and La Guardia but pick up and drop off times are limited and the service does not stop at all terminals.
The website still has old warnings up that the service has been discontinued but a call to the company’s recorded customer line says that the bus is now running. Be prepared to wear masks on buses as well as in taxis and Ubers.
Ubers and Lyfts are now easier to book both to and from both La Guardia and JFK. This option may be the best way to get to early flights and out of the airport on late flights as the New York City subway system which connects to the Air Train is still closed from 1 AM to 5 AM for cleaning. Yellow taxis are more available than during peak pandemic months but they thin out after 11 PM.
During the lockdown passengers had to board buses at the back of the bus and can’t access the driver for travel information, essentially making the ride fare-free. However MTA officials have unveiled new shields to protect drivers, so that perk is ending soon. The number Q10 bus at Union Turnpike in Queens (the E Train stop is Kew Gardens/Union Turnpike) has a limited faster service during daytime weekday hours and a regular local service at all other times.
If you are on a long layover at the airport and want to visit the city during peak travel hours, the fastest way to get to Manhattan is the AirTrain and the subway. Be advised that although stores (including the iconic Macy’s at 34th Street) are open, indoor dining at restaurants is not allowed in the city, even during Phase 4.
Outdoor dining in Manhattan tends to have long wait times. Smaller restaurants in Brooklyn and in Queens are better bets for quicker table service.
The observation deck atop the iconic Empire State Building has reopened, and the one at 30 Rockefeller Plaza is set to open early in August. Museums and attractions like the inside of the Statue of Liberty and the observatory floor of the World Trade Center are currently still closed.