Skip to main content

Savvy travelers who plan ahead can find some great airline ticket deals, but the savings can be eaten up before you’re even in the sky. An unforeseen cost for many travelers is getting to and from the airport.

Taxi fares of $50 or more are common from the downtown areas of many U.S. cities and even group bus shuttle service can run from $15 to $20 per person.

Smart travelers follow the lead of airport employees who use low-cost alternatives to get to the airport.

At Newark Liberty International Airport, repeated terminal signs direct travelers to AirTrain, the Port of Newark and New Jersey’s $700 million monorail. The sky train then connects passengers to a rail line to New York City.

But the problem is the ride isn’t cheap. Train tickets can be as expensive as $28 for the 40 minute trip to New York’s Penn Station on Amtrak, and even slower New Jersey Transit Trains charge $12.50

Instead, The Route 62 bus takes riders to Newark’s Penn Station in a half hour for $1.35. At Penn station, PATH trains take riders to lower Manhattan or Greenwich Village, Chelsea or 33rd St. and 6th Avenue in New York for $1.75. The entire trip can be made in an hour, just 15 minutes over the travel time using the AirTrain, and for a lot less money.

Here’s inexpensive ways to get to other major U.S. airports:

LaGuardia Airport (New York)
The M60 bus runs from 106th and Broadway over the Triborough Bridge to La Guardia Airport. The bus accesses key subway lines including the 1 Train at 110th and 116th Streets on the West Side and the 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 trains at 125th Street on the East Side. Free transfers are provided to other bus lines in Manhattan. Total cost: $2.25, commute time: 45 minutes from 106th Street, 25 minutes from East 125th Street.

JFK International Airport
Kennedy airport is the most expensive of the New York airports to get to by public transit, but the $7.25 fare is still considerably less than a $45 cab ride from Manhattan. Take the A train from Midtown Manhattan to Far Rockaway, and get off at the Howard Beach JFK stop. Transfer at the station for the AirTrain monorail to JFK. Total travel time: 82 minutes. Cost: $2.25 for the subway and $5.00 for the AirTrain.

Midway Airport (Chicago)
To get to Midway Airport for a bargain basement fare, take the Chicago Transit Authority’s Orange Line. From Downtown, this line will take you to the airport for $2.00. Total commute: 30 minutes.

O’Hare International Airport (Chicago)
The Blue Line connects downtown to the airport for a mere $2.00. Travel time is 30-45 minutes.

George Bush Intercontinental Airport (Houston)
For big spenders METRO’s Airport Direct leaves frequently for the half-hour ride from downtown to the airport for $15. The bus leaves from 815 Pearce St., across from the Downtown Transportation Center. But, for a mere $1.25, you can take the METRO 102 bus. It leaves from Travis and Jefferson Streets in downtown Houston. However, your travel time is doubled to one hour.

Hobby Airport (Houston)
There is no express bus option to Hobby Airport. The local METRO 88 bus will take you from Smith and Preston Street to Hobby Airport in a little under an hour. The fare is $1.25.

Baltimore/Washington International Airport (Baltimore)

The Maryland Transit Administration offers light rail service between downtown and the airport on the Blue Line. This line runs beside Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles. Fare is $1.60.

Philadelphia International Airport
The R1 Airport line, for $5.50 connects the Center City and University City sections of Philadelphia with all terminals of the airport. Trains leave from several terminals in Philadelphia including 30th Street station in University City, Suburban Station on JFK Blvd, and Market East on 8th and Market. Travel time is approximately 15 minutes from University City and 30 minutes from downtown.

Seattle Tacoma Airport
King County Metro Transit’s Route 194 is serves downtown Seattle. Travel time is approximately 40 minutes and costs $1.50 during peak travel times and $1.75 other times.

Related Stories

Frequent Fliers Go Online to Swap Miles

How Hotels Secretly Hit Your Wallet

Hotels for the Chic and Cheap

—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at