Sleeping in Airports

10 Things to do on a layover at JFK Airport

Here are ten things to do on a layover at JFK Airport.

1. Eat

Airport DiningJFK offers some excellent dining options for all budgets. The Shake Shack has a location in Terminal 4 that offers all the favourites, plus breakfast sandwiches and excellent coffee. Meat lovers will appreciate Terminal 4’s Blue Smoke on the Road, which serves ribs, sausages and sandwiches.

Famous New York chef Andrew Carmellini opened the Croque Madame in Terminal 2. Diners have raved about the sandwich shop’s open-faced sandwiches, crepes, and made-to-order salads.

For those looking for a lighter snack, Deep Blue Sushi in Terminal 5 is known for serving “the best sushi you will probably ever eat in an airport.” Customers often come earlier before their flights to try out the restaurant’s fresh selection. Deep Blue Sushi also offers grab-and-go meals.

2. Drink

While the aforementioned Shake Shack is known for swinging the occasional craft beer along with a variety of other alcoholic beverages, the BRKLYN Beer Garden in Terminal 2 is another excellent option for any passengers looking to relax before a long flight. Customers are split on the merits of the Beer Garden’s iPad ordering system, though many find its doubling as an internet connection and game station enjoyable. A word to the wise regarding this spot: while the beer selection is excellent, passengers may be advised to eat elsewhere.

For those with more refined tastes, Vino Volo Wine Shop has a location in Terminal 8 that passengers have highly appreciated for its excellent wine, great food selection, plentiful charging stations and free WiFi.

3. Check out an airport lounge

Airport Lounges

Turn a long, boring layover into a day of rest and relaxation. While many airport lounges cater only to First and Business Class travellers, many lounges at JFK welcome any traveller willing to pay – which means even us Economy Class travellers can enjoy a quieter, upgraded few hours. Several lounges include food and drink in the entry price and a few even have shower facilities for freshening up. Visit our JFK Airport Guide for more information about the airport’s lounges.

4. Shop

ShoppingJFK offers a variety of options for shopping passengers. Several shops sell brand-name apparel like Juicy Couture and Coach in Terminal 1, while techies can find the gadgets they need at Best Buy in Terminal 2. Terminal 4 has a Duty Free location and a Guess, MAC, and Victoria’s Secret, and passengers can catch up with their reading in the New York Times Books located in Terminal 5. Regardless of the terminal, travellers can find a variety of flower shops, souvenir shops, and newsstands throughout the airport, along with Xpress Spas for those in need of a bit of pampering.

5. Surf the Web

WiFiStay connected to friends and family, update your social media accounts or surf the internet courtesy of the airport’s free and unlimited WiFi.

6. Play

Parents will be happy to hear that there’s an enclosed children’s play area in Terminal 5 equipped with some toddler activity toys. The spot doesn’t look like much, but the interactive playthings are bright and button-filled, offering a short-term distraction for kids and a well-deserved break for parents.

7. Pamper yourself between flights

Freshen up with a facial, a mani/pedi, or a massage treatment at XpresSpa. There are several main locations: Terminal 1 airside near Gates 3 and 6, Terminal 4 at Gate A2, Gate B24, the airside Retail Hall West, and Terminal 7 airside in the Retail Hall.

8. Pray

No matter your religious affiliation, an interfaith chapel on the landside in Terminal 4 offers peace and solace.

9. Head into NYC

Layover SightseeingIf you’ve got a long layover here, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t get out and see what the Big Apple is all about. We don’t recommend leaving the airport unless you have at least 6 hours, but if you have that time, exploring the city will be worth it!

First up – leaving the airport. The AirTrain connects all terminals with Jamaica Station so that you can hop on the E, J, and Z trains into Manhattan. An express bus called NYCAirporter also connects directly to Penn Station and Grand Central Station in Midtown. For direct service, head to the taxi stands outside all terminals – but don’t be surprised by bad traffic. (Note: you can check your baggage during the day at most terminals.)

New York City is massive, so your best bet is to pick 1 or 2 sights of interest and add those in. We love visiting Central Park for fresh air – the perfect way to kick jet lag. Or head into one of the best art collections in the world at museums like MoMA, Met, Whitney, Guggenheim, and many more. If you’d rather take in the look and feel of the city, hop-on-hop-off buses and boats that circle all or part of Manhattan are great options. Please review our New York City JFK Layover Sightseeing Guide for more ideas.

Wherever you’re exploring, leave plenty of time to return to the airport. Taxis can mean navigating lots of traffic, and security lines can get pretty long at JFK.

10. Sleep

Airport SleeperYou won’t be the only person trying to catch up on sleep here, but it won’t be a comfortable experience. The seating is pretty limited for the number of travellers coming and going, and it’s mostly metal benches with armrests. Grab some space on the floor – and maybe bring a sleeping mat, extra layers, and earplugs to fight the chilly and noisy atmosphere. If you’re in Terminal 5, you may get lucky with a quick daytime nap in the two sleep pods – but you better hurry as they are limited to 20 minutes per person. If you’d rather sleep in an actual bed and get some privacy, you’ll have to shell out for a hotel. The only onsite hotel is located at Terminal 5, and there are many more within a few minutes drive of the airport, and most provide free airport shuttle service. See our New York City JFK Airport Guide for details.

These are just a few things to do on a New York City JFK Airport layover. Visit our New York City JFK Airport Guide for more information about the services and facilities available, such as food, WiFi, mobile charging, luggage storage, nearby airport hotels, and much more.