How Early to Arrive at JFK Airport (Domestic & International Flights)

John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) is one of the major airports serving the New York City area. The airport has five passenger terminals:

  • Terminal 1
  • Terminal 4
  • Terminal 5
  • Terminal 7
  • Terminal 8

Given this, I recommend arriving at JFK Airport at least 2 hours before a domestic flight and 3 to 4 hours before an international flight.

What Time Should You Arrive at JFK Airport?

You should arrive at JFK Airport 2 hours before a domestic flight (flight within the US) and between 3 and 4 hours before an international flight. This should give you enough time to:

  • Check-in for your flight
  • Drop your luggage
  • Navigate through security
  • Walk to your gate.

In my experience, arriving at the airport early is always better than arriving late and feeling rushed or missing your flight.

Why Do You Need Longer for International Flights?

You should arrive at JFK 3 to 4 hours before an international flight. An international flight is classed as any flight outside of the US. 

There are several reasons for this, including:

  • Visa checks
  • Entry requirements
  • Immigration control
  • Customs

Most long-haul international flights also have an extended boarding period starting earlier. This is because most long-haul flights are on a larger plane with more passengers. Therefore, the time required for all passengers to board the aircraft is longer.

Other Factors to Consider When Flying From JFK

Other factors you’ll want to consider when flying from JFK Airport include:

  1. Travelling to the airport: Traffic in and around JFK can be crazy. As such, you’ll want to allocate some extra time for any potential delays.
  2. The time of year: Major events in the city can mean even more tourists and delays.
  3. Checking in: If you need to check in for your flight in person, the line at the desk may require extra time.
  4. Bag drop: Allow extra time at the airport if you have checked luggage. Most bag drop locations close one hour before the flight’s departure (exact times vary).

Which JFK Airport Terminal Do You Need?

JFK International Airport has five terminals:

Terminal 1

  • Air China
  • Air France
  • Air New Zealand
  • Air Serbia
  • Air Senegal
  • Asiana Airlines
  • Austrian Airlines
  • Azores Airlines
  • Brussels Airlines
  • Cayman Airways
  • China Eastern
  • Eastern Airlines
  • EgyptAir
  • EVA Air
  • Flair Airlines
  • Korean Air
  • Lufthansa
  • Neos
  • Philippine Airlines
  • Royal Air Maroc
  • Saudi Arabian Airlines
  • TAP Portugal
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Viva Aerobus
  • Volaris

Terminal 4

  • Aeromexico
  • Air Europa
  • Air India
  • Avianca Brasil
  • Caribbean Airlines
  • China Airlines
  • Copa Airlines
  • Delta
  • EI AI
  • Emirates
  • Etihad
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Kenya Airways
  • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Uzbekistan Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • WestJet
  • XiamenAir

Terminal 5

  • Cape Air
  • JetBlue (All Departures and Int’l Arrivals between 5:00 am to 10:30 pm; Int’l Arrivals between 10:30 pm to 5:00 am at Terminal 4)

Terminal 7

  • Aer Lingus
  • Aerolineas Argentinas
  • Air Canada
  • Alaska Airlines
  • ANA(All Nippon)
  • Condor
  • Ethiopian Airlines
  • Icelandair
  • Kuwait Airways
  • LOT
  • Norse Atlantic Airways
  • Scandinavian Airlines
  • Sun Country Airlines
  • Ukraine International Airlines

Terminal 8

  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • China Southern
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • ITA Airways
  • Japan Airlines
  • Level
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Jordanian


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