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Long Layover? A Guide to Staying Entertained in the JFK Terminals


Long Layover? A Guide to Staying Entertained in the JFK Terminals

Whether you are looking for a place to sleep, drink, shop, get pampered, or eat, you will find it all in this comprehensive guide to the JFK terminals.

There is a stigma associated with layovers. When waiting for a connecting flight, many think of long hours sitting in a boring airport doing nothing more than waiting. 

Since the beginning of the aviation industry, airports were thought of as merely a connection point between the average citizen and their flight. Yet over the years, many developers and designers have found that the airport can be more than a place where people sit and wait. 

Some airports even go as far as to make their terminals a destination spot filled with fun things to do for every age. The JFK terminals are becoming such a destination. 

The History of JFK Airport

Established in the 1940s and opened for business in 1947, the JFK airport cost around 60 million dollars to build from start to finish. Originally named Idlewild Airport, it wasn't until after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 that the airport was named in his honor. 

Over the years, JFK Airport has undergone multiple renovations expanding an additional 4,000 acres. Due to this expansion, they were able to add on eight terminals.

Over the years, to keep up with technological advances and changes in trend, JFK airport has continued to expand and grow. Hosting numerous restaurants, shops, and other services and now, it's poised for yet another significant expansion. 

By adding 4 million square feet to the current terminals, this expansion will allow for an additional 15 million people through its doors annually. 

So what are all of these people supposed to do when waiting for their connecting flight? As of right now, there is a lot to choose from. 

Things To Do at JFK Terminals

When grounded at JFK, there's a lot to do that will keep you occupied until the next flight. Let's take a look at what JFK has to offer for everyone who is left waiting. 


One of the things that New York is known for its excellent cuisine. From the quick grab and go snacks to the luxurious five-star meals, there is something for every palate.

For those looking for a quick bite to eat, there is the Shake Shack in Terminal 4 that is serving up its deliciously fast meals.  For those with a little more time on their hands, famed New York Chef Andrew Carmellini has opened an exquisite experience for travelers known as Croque Madame, where guests can sample everything from sandwiches to sweets. 

There are also a plethora of other small yet well-known eateries that are scattered throughout the airport. From Wok and Roll to Starbucks, each terminal has its options. 


For those who are 21 and up, there are plenty of places where you can partake in alcoholic beverages. Some restaurants do offer adult beverages as a part of their menu; however, there are spaces for those who simply want a drink without having to order food. 

Each airline has its own rewards programs that allow passengers to enjoy a relaxed waiting area, drinks, and other benefits such as complimentary spa services in private lounges at the airport.

For those that do not want to subscribe to a particular airline rewards program but would like the luxury of a private club, there is the Airspace Lounge. With the ability to purchase access, you can enjoy complimentary refreshments, business centers, and even a private shower for those who need to freshen up after a long flight. 


For those that need some retail therapy, there is plenty of shopping available. From high-end luxury items such as Coach, Bvlgari, and Michael Kors to the more common items located in the duty-free shops, there is something for everyone. 

Off-Site Sightseeing

IF your layover has you staying for an extended period, there are many things you can do just outside of the airport doors. Sightseeing in New York is one of the most amazing experiences that any traveler can have. 

From the lovely views of Central Park to the historically amazing collections as the Guggenheim, there is no lacking of things to do. For transportation to and from these incredible sites, the JFK airport is connected via both public and private transportation options.

Public Transportation Options:

  • Airtrain- connecting the airport to Jamaica Station, Long Island Railroad, and Howard Beach Station. 
  • Bus- Many buses connect the airport to the surrounding neighborhoods. 
  • NYCAirporter - offering free shuttle services, this express bus connects directly to Grand Central Station and leaves every 30 minutes. 

Private Transportation Options:

  • Taxis- Big yellow cabs can get you whenever you want in the city. 
  • Car Rentals- Every airport comes with multiple rental stations generally located near the baggage claim. Here you can rent your vehicle for those who want the freedom to come and go as they please. 
  • Private Car Options- In an age of technology, a private car service is as close as the push of a button. From Uber to Lyft, you can opt for your luxury ride or take rideshare with other passengers for half the cost. 

If you choose to go off-site, there are a few things that you will want to consider. If you have flown in from an international location, will you need a visa to leave the airport? Due to the ever-changing regulations of national security, this is something that you need to verify before deciding to go. 

Always keep track of the time. Not only the time that your connecting flight leaves but be aware of the time it takes to get through security. There is also the fact that New York traffic is notorious for being congested, so leaving ample time to get from point A to the JFK terminals is critical for making your flight on time. 

The Beauty of New York

There is no other city in the world like New York. People travel from all over the world just to see the sites and on one trip cannot see all that the city has to offer. 

Yet if you find yourself sitting around the JFK terminals for any extended period, you will also find that there are ample shops, eateries, and businesses that can keep you entertained. 

For more details or information on how we can help, visit our website for more information. 

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