When you exit the plane, follow the signs for Ground Transportation and Baggage Claim.
You'll notice the sign will soon change to include AirTrain in the green section by Ground Transportation. Keep following AirTrain signs.
You will go up an escalator and through an entrance with a welcoming I 💗NYC sign.Keep walking. If you don't naturally run-walk, you are already getting on New Yorker's nerves, so move over to the far right with your slow self.
And this guy on the escalator? He's asking to be run over, or at the very least, cussed out. New Yorkers don't stand on escalators like lazy other-49-state-residents. Know your escalator etiquette. If you must stand (you should probably turn around and get back on the plane home), move to the far right. Leave the left side open for run-walking New Yorkers.Stand on the step behind your luggage rather than next to it.You'll have a better chance of keeping it that way.
Keep following those green AirTrain signs to the platform. And mind your manners.
On the AirTrain platform, you'll find a simple map. Your destination is Jamacia Station.
Your current location is visibly posted. Be sure to get on a train heading to Jamacia Station. When the train opens, stand aside briefly to allow passengers to exit first. Do this on all subway trains as well. If you forget, you'll get a chewing out by a run-walking New Yorker. You may not understand it all, but it means, "You're an idiot."
Seats are limited on AirTrain. Standing requires a special stance. Notice how this guy has his feet slightly apart. He isn't holding on because he does this often. You, on the other hand, need to hold on to prepare for those lurching starts and stops.
At Jamaica Station, you will pay to exit the AirTrain and enter the train station. There are Metro Card
vending machines along the right-hand wall. Get in line. Have your card ready. Ain't nobody got time to wait for you to fish it out of your Marry Poppins bag. All these guys standing around trying to figure out what's going on? They're likely to get run over.
At the vending machine, do the following:
On the first screen:
- Don't select AirTrain card unless you are not going to use the subway at all during your trip. For example, if you prefer to pay more for an Amtrak ride into the City (faster, nicer), you would only need the AirTrain card, which is a Metro Card with only $5 value to allow you to enter the train station. The easiest way to buy an Amtrak ticket is through the app.
- Do select Metro Card (works to pay AirTrain $5 fee + subway ride to Manhattan) if you are taking the subway from here.
On the next screen:
- Select Get New Card (unless you happen to have one from your last trip and it hasn't expired; in that case, select Refill Your Card)
When asked what type of card:
- Select AirTrain + Subway. This will get you to Penn Station. After that, you will have to refill your Metro Card for additional subway rides.
When it's time to pay, the machine will instruct you to "dip your card." Southern translation = quickly insert and remove your card.
With yellow Metro Card in hand, proceed to the turnstiles. They work both ways, so don't enter one where someone is exiting. If you aren't sure how to insert it, watch someone do it first.
Now proceed to the train station. Follow the signs to the E train, which will stop at Penn Station.
Go spend those saved dollars on New York food.