Despite its reputation for being one of the busiest and most congested airports in the world, JFK minimum connection times might be surprising to novice travelers. It’s not the motherf*****r that you think it is. Not entirely anyway.
- Minimum connection times at the John F Kennedy Airport in New York can be as low as 30 minutes for domestic flights (if you’re flying the same airline).
- However, it can take as long as 3 hours if you’re coming off an international flight and you need to do a terminal change in order to make your connection.
I know that seems like a really wide range of time, but stay with me. The following is a detailed breakdown of exactly how long it’ll take you to make connections at JFK for nearly any situation (based on my own personal experience)…
Table of Contents
What is the minimum connection time for domestic flights at JFK?
As I just mentioned, 30 minutes is the bare minimum of time you’ll need for a domestic to domestic connection. That’s assuming you’re flying the same airline and don’t need to make a terminal change. It’s worth noting that terminal changes aren’t usually required at JFK as long as you’re flying the same airline (or airline alliance).
If for whatever reason a terminal change is required, the minimum connection time increases to 1 hour. However, for the sake of preserving your sanity, you’re probably going to want a little more time than that.
What is the minimum connection time for international flights at JFK?
Call this airport what you will, but it’s not fair to call it inefficient. There is no designated international terminal at the John F. Kennedy Airport. International flights arrive and depart from nearly every terminal, so chances are you won’t have to go far to reach your connection.
Connecting FROM an international flight
You’ll need a minimum of 2 hours to connect from an international flight to a domestic flight at JFK. The customs and immigration facilities at this airport are extremely large and state of the art, but that doesn’t always mean that it’s fast and efficient.
There’s insane amount of international traffic coming into the JFK Airport at all hours of the day It’s going to get backed up at times, so have a little patience.
Connecting TO an international flight
Connecting from a domestic flight to an international flight at JFK will require at least an hour. Personally, that’s cutting it a little bit too close, but it’s entirely possible if you hustle. It’ll be especially easy if you don’t have to change terminals.
If you do, keep reading, because I’m going to explain the process of making terminal to terminal transfers at the JFK airport below:
A brief overview of the terminal layout at the John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
The JFK Airport consists of six terminals. They are all separate buildings, connected by an inter-terminal train (the AirTrain).
Also, don’t get hung up on the fact that Terminals 3 and 6 are nonexistent. The John F Kennedy Airport is in a constant state of evolution, and a lot has changed over the years (including the elimination and combination of some terminal buildings).
The reason why short connection times are (usually) ok at JFK
The main reason why short layovers are usually ok at JFK is due to the fact that there is no designated international terminal. This means that all partner airlines are grouped together in a way that makes sense.
For example, you won’t have to schlep across the entire airport to transfer from one Star Alliance or Oneworld airline to another. They’re all located together in the same terminal buildings.
Transfer time between all terminals at the JFK Airport
Despite how much I love the JFK Airport for being one of the most efficient international gateways in the world, it has its flaws. One of those flaws is the time it takes to move between terminals.
The fastest and most efficient way to move between most terminals at the JFK Airport is to use the AirTrain (there are stations located at each terminal). Walking isn’t always possible – unless you’re feeling especially courageous and willing to walk through dark parking lots and sketchy garages.
- Note that there are 3 separate AirTrain lines: the Airline Terminals Train, the Jamaica Station Train, and the Howard Beach Train.
- All 3 lines stop at all terminals, but the Airline Terminals Train is the fastest way around.
- The Airline Terminals Train runs counterclockwise. That means the very first stop after Terminal 1 is Terminal 8.
Based on my own experience, here’s how long it usually takes me to move from one terminal to the next at JFK using the AirTrain (the Airline Terminals Train):
Terminal 1 to:
- Terminal 2: 23 minutes (it’ll probably be faster to walk)
- Terminal 4: 20 minutes
- Terminal 5: 18 minutes
- Terminal 7: 16 minutes
- Terminal 8: 13 minutes
Terminal 2 to:
- Terminal 1: 13 minutes (it’ll probably be faster to walk)
- Terminal 4: 23 minutes
- Terminal 5: 20 minutes
- Terminal 7: 18 minutes
- Terminal 8: 16 minutes
Terminal 4 to:
- Terminal 1: 15 minutes
- Terminal 2: 13 minutes
- Terminal 5: 23 minutes
- Terminal 7: 18 minutes
- Terminal 8: 16 minutes
Terminal 5 to:
- Terminal 1: 18 minutes
- Terminal 2: 16 minutes
- Terminal 4: 13 minutes
- Terminal 7: 23 minutes
- Terminal 8: 20 minutes
Terminal 7 to:
- Terminal 1: 20 minutes
- Terminal 2: 18 minutes
- Terminal 4: 15 minutes
- Terminal 5: 13 minutes
- Terminal 8: 23 minutes
Terminal 8 to:
- Terminal 1: 23 minutes
- Terminal 2: 20 minutes
- Terminal 4: 17 minutes
- Terminal 5: 15 minutes
- Terminal 7: 13 minutes
What is the ideal connection time at JFK?
Before I started flying on a somewhat regular basis, I always overestimated how much time I would need for a connection at JFK. however, now that I know how easy it is, my minimum connection times have been reduced quite significantly. Here’s what I would personally want for a comfortable (no stress) layover at JFK:
Domestic to domestic connections (no terminal change)
Making a connection from one domestic flight to another at JFK (same airline, no terminal change) is super easy. However, my minimum would be 1 hour – just so I would have enough time to relax and grab a bite to eat.
Domestic to domestic connections (with a terminal change)
Switching terminals when making a connection from one domestic flight to another at the John F. Kennedy Airport is easy, but it’ll take a little bit longer. Because of how long it takes to walk to the AirTrain station in some terminals, I would want at least an hour and a half for a no-stress connection.
Domestic to international connections (no terminal change)
As long as I didn’t have to switch terminals, my personal minimum connection time for a domestic to international flight at JFK would be 1 hour and 10 minutes. This is almost exactly the same as a domestic to domestic connection, with the only difference being that you’ll need to be onboard your international flight sooner.
Domestic to international connections (with a terminal change)
I would want a minimum of 2 and a half hours for a no stress connection from a domestic flight to an international flight departing from a different terminal at JFK. Not only will I have to take the AirTrain to get to the other terminal, I’m also going to have to stand in line to get through the security checkpoint once I get there.
International to domestic connections (no terminal change)
Even not having to switch terminals when going from an international flight to a domestic flight at JFK is going to take a bit of time. Customs and immigration lines can get long, so I would want a minimum of 2 and half hours.
International to domestic connections (with terminal change)
I wouldn’t want to do an International to domestic transfer at JFK (one that required a terminal change) in less than 3 hours. That’s very likely to be too much time for most people, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.
Tips for making really short connections at JFK
W’ve all undoubtedly seen our favorite actors and movie stars make mad dashes through the JFK airport in a way that makes it look like hell on earth. If you’ve ever seen the original Home Alone movie, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
The good news is that movies and TV shows are often exaggerated. Making connections at the John F. Kennedy Airport in New York can be extremely calm and easy if you follow these steps:
- Fly the same airline (or at least airlines that belong to the same alliance). This will almost guarantee that you won’t have to make a terminal change.
- Do everything within your power to have your boarding passes for your connecting flight in hand before you arrive. The JFK Airport is an extremely busy place, and the last place you’ll want to end up is in a long queue to get a printed boarding pass. In my experience, those lines can get gnarly.
- Do not walk between terminals! There are no designated sidewalks connecting most terminals, so the fastest and most efficient way to get between them is to use the AirTrain.
How about a domestic to international on separate tickets, different terminals, where you’re picking up and rechecking bags? Many do this (I’ve done this twice) to get better fares or award seats out of JFK. What’s your experience?
Yeah, that’s not a very fun type of connection to make at JFK. I’ve personally never done it with luggage, but if I was planning on doing it, my minimum connection time would be 2 and a half hours. I wouldn’t book anything less than that.
I think it would be a relatively stress free experience with a 3 hour layover.
Domestic to international all within terminal 8 in 1.5 hours? Or international to domestic all within terminal 8 in 1.25 hours? Doable?
Hi Tracey – domestic to international in an hour and a half will be super easy (just walk from one plane to the next). International to domestic will require nearly all of that 1 hour and 25 minutes IMHO since you’ll have to do the customs/immigration thing. I’d try to get a longer layover if possible, but it won’t be the end of the world if you can’t. You can make it, but you’re going to have to hustle!
Hi Scott, Thanks for this review. One has to clear security again with a terminal change regardless of domestic-domestic or domestic-international, correct ? We have a domestic-international with terminal change, no checked bags, and we have TSA precheck, would 1 hour 40 min. be okay in most cases ?
Hi Leyi – you’re very welcome! Yes, a terminal change will require the need to go through security again. Having TSA Precheck will make a 1 hour and 40 minute connection easy. As long as you use the Air Train to move between terminals, you’ll most likely be able to do it in half that time. Have a good trip!
Hi, we’re flying from Toronto to JFK (Feb 6, 2023) our first time to have layover in US, what do we need to provide . Does 4hours layover enough for us to get to our next flight to Korea Incheon . do we need to pay for the AirTrain. thank you please advise.
Hi Gerly – since you’ll be clearing US customs and immigration prior to leaving Toronto, you’ll arrive at JFK just as a domestic flight would. The only thing you’ll need to do is switch terminals (if necessary) and then check into for flight to Korea if you don’t already have your boarding pass.
The Air Train is the fastest way to move between terminals at JFK. It’s free if all you’re doing is switching terminals. 4 hours will be more than enough time!
Hi Scott I’m going from Dallas Fort Worth then on to heathrow American airline do I stay in same terminal nd any idea which terminal I’m scared as I’m on my own 1hour 40 minutes between flights
Hi Carole – if you’re flying American Airlines the entire way (DFW-JFK-LHR), you won’t have to switch terminals at JFK. Just walk from one plane to the next – no security checks will be required. 1 hour and 40 minutes will be easy!
Hi what about the baggage? I am thinking of doing ICN-JFK-BDA with KE and DL. Do I need to retrieve the luggage at JFK before rechecking them in? I think KE lands in T1 and DL is in T4.
Hi Brian – yes, you will need to retrieve (and recheck) your luggage upon arrival at JFK. The process will go like this:
Have a good trip!
Hi Scott, for DFW -JFK-AMS, will
My luggage be checked in all the way from DFW or do I need to recheck it in JFK? Same ticket flights operated by Delta and KLM (same alliance) and per the internet both at Terminal 4. Thanks for the article, very informative
Hi! Yes, because your entire itinerary is part of the same ticket, your luggage will transfer automatically (you won’t have to retrieve and recheck it at JFK). Have a great trip!
Are these times only for travellers with USA passports?
We are 3 adults from UK coming from Dallas then on to Heathrow.
Hi Liz – the nationality of your passports won’t matter in your case. Flying DFW-JFK-LHR won’t require going through customs / immigration. It’ll simply be a matter of walking from one plane to the next (unless you have to change terminals, which in that case, will require going through a security checkpoint). Have a good trip!
Hi I’m coming from Barcelona British Air and then Delta back to PR how long would it take. Is three hours enough
Hi Priscilla – British Airways uses terminal 8 at JFK, and Delta uses terminal 4, so you will have to change terminals. The fastest way to do that is to use the Air Train. Three hours will be more than enough time! Just keep moving as quickly as you can and you shouldn’t have any issues.
Hi Scott, you’re amazing for creating this website, thank you!! I would love your input. Landing from Milan at JFK at 6:55pm; I want to book a flight from JFK to Miami (final destination) that’s at 8:30pm….is that cutting it way too close?? Afraid it will take a long time to de-plane, get luggage, go through customs, get to correct terminal, etc… What do you think?
You’re welcome Jenny! Yes, an hour and a half will be cutting really close even if you don’t have to switch terminals. You could probably pull it off, but I can guarantee that it’ll be a stressful experience.
If it were me, I’d book a night at the TWA Hotel (located adjacent to Terminal 5) and take a flight out to Miami in the morning. Much less stressful that way!
I have a KLM flight arriving at JFK from Amsterdam with a layover of only 1:45 before my connecting flight to Norfolk all on 1 ticket and no terminal change. I do have Global entry. Is this doable or should I request cruise line to rebook? Thank you.
Hi Ingrid – an hour and 45 minutes will be no problem considering that you won’t have to change terminals. Having Global Entry will make it even faster. Have a great trip!
Thank you very much for your input. I was quite unsure as to what I should do. Thanks for providing such a great website for travelers to inquire about their travels!!!!!
We are traveling to Jamaica with an hour and 15 minutes but flying delta the entire time. Will that be enough time? On the app it says check in and clear security at jfk but would we need to coming from Portland maine ? Thank you!
Hey Jen – Delta uses Terminal 4 at JFK (you’ll arrive and depart from there), so you won’t have to change terminals. Even if you did, and hour and 15 minutes would still be doable. But since you won’t – it’s gonna be easy. 🙂 Have a good trip!
Hi Scott – Travelling from Amsterdam via JFK to Bangor and carrying odd size bagage. Any idea how much time is needed and where to collect the odd size baggage?
Hi! That’s a really good question that I don’t know the answer to. You’re definitely going to need extra time for this, but I would assume that if JFK is like any other airport in the US, the oversize luggage retrieval area is very near to the baggage claim carousel for your arriving flight. It would have to be since you’ll need to retrieve it before going through customs.
What an awesome collection of information your site provides! Love this!
I have a question re. JFK transfers if you would:
A domestic – international connection (no terminal change), with checked baggage. How much additional time would you suggest for retrieving & re-checking a bag?
And the same question for the return:
An international – domestic connection (no terminal change), with checked baggage. How much additional time would you suggest for retrieving & re-checking a bag?
Hi Phoebe – I’m glad you’re finding this useful! To answer your questions:
1A). Assuming your entire itinerary is part of the same ticket, you won’t need to retrieve and re-check your luggage. In that case, even a 45 minute connection would be fine connecting to a flight in the same terminal.
1B). If the tickets were purchased separately, then yes – you will need to retrieve and re-check your luggage. I would want a minimum of 2 hours for this if it were me.
2). Anything less than 3 hours would make me nervous, but if everything goes right you could easily do it in far less time than that.
Have a good trip!
Great info – can I ask a question – I’m travelling from UK (via Amsterdam) to JFK then on to Cincinnati (CVG)
all on one ticket American Airlines operated by British Airways. Layover in NY is 1 hour 57 mins …. is this a little too tight, or do you think ok?
Hi George – yes, 2 hours to go though customs and immigration at JFK will be tight (especially if you have checked luggage), but the thing that’ll make it easy is that you won’t have to switch terminals. I think you’ll be ok, but you will have to hustle.
I am flying Toronto – JFK with Delta. I have a 2h:33m connection in JFK to my next flight, which is New York – São Paulo which i am flyig LATAM. Bought all the ticket with latam. Delta and Latam are in terminal 4.
Do you know if I have to get my bags re checked and if I have to go through security again in JFK? Do you think 2:33 is enough to catch my flight to Sao Paulo?
Hi Sofia – since it’s all the same ticket, you will not have to claim and then re-check your luggage. And because you’ll go through US customs and immigration prior to departing YYZ, you’ll arrive at JFK as if it were a domestic US flight. This means that you can just walk to your connecting gate without going through any additional checkpoints. 2 and a half hours will be more than enough time!
Hi! We arrive from Milan on Neos airlines at 2:50pm and need to connect to Jet blue to Buffalo that departs at 5:30pm. Do we have enough time? We have checked luggage. Jet blue keeps changing our flight! Ugh
Hi Josephine – I think you’ll have enough time, but you’re going to have to keep moving as fast as you can just in case there are any delays along the way.
Your Neos flight will arrive in Terminal 1, and your JetBlue flight will depart out of Terminal 5. It’s easy to switch terminals using the AirTrain, but I’d highly recommend finding out where the stations are located in each terminal before you arrive (so you can hit the ground running). Good luck!
I am arriving JFK Delta from Barcelona. I need to transfer to Jet Blue to Jacksonville Fl with plenty of time allowed. The issue is with mobility . It would be probably too difficult to use Air Train. Will cab go from one terminal to another?
Thank you for your help.
Hi Barbara – yes, you could probably take a taxi to get from one terminal to another, but it will be extremely inconvenient for them due to how short of a trip it is. I’d imagine that most taxi drivers wouldn’t do it unless you promised them a very big tip.
Hi Scott!!! We at are arriving at JFK at 9:59pm on Jetblue from Savannah. Our connecting flight is departing at 10:29pm on JetBlue. Do you think we will have enough time to get off one flight and onto our connecting flight in 30 minutes with JetBlue?
Hey Christina – yeah, 30 minutes sounds scary (it’d even make me pucker up a little lol) but it’s super easy to get all the way from one end of Terminal 5 to the other in no time flat. Probably 5-6 minutes at a fast pace.
You won’t have any issues if your inbound flight is on time.
Ludo De Winter
We arrive in JFK terminal 4 from Brussels (Belgium) at 1:30 pm with Delta. We have a connecting flight in terminal 7 to Buenos Aires at 3:25 pm with Aerolinas Argentinas.
We have 1 bookingnumber.
We received a message from Delta that the flight to BA is changed from
4:35 am to 3:25 pm.
So, we only have 1 h 55. Do we have time enough?
Thanks for your Antwerpen.
Ludo and Rita
Hi Ludo! 2 hours is going to be tight, and I will admit that I’d be nervous about doing an international to international connection (with a terminal change) in that amount of time. If the airline isn’t willing to put you on a later flight, you’re going to have to hustle once you arrive at JFK. Study the terminal maps ahead of time, have a plan of attack, and good luck!