At JFK, can you move between terminals airside on domestic flights?

  • When arriving at JFK (or any US airport) on an international flight that didn't have pre-clearance, I know that you have to clear immigration, collect your bags, clear customs, re-drop bags, change terminals by AirTrain if needed, and then go through security, no matter what terminals are involved.

    I also know that when you fly into JFK on a domestic or pre-cleared flight, and your onward flight is from that same terminal, you just step off your domestic flight into the departures area and walk to your onward gate, without needing to do security again.

    At some other big US airports I've been to before (eg DFW), there is an airside transfer train that lets you move between terminals, so you can go from gate to gate without needing to exit + re-clear security. However, at JFK the only transfer train I'm aware of is AirTrain, which is landside.

    Is it possible to move between terminals at JFK from within the airside / departures area? Or is the only option when changing between domestic flights at different terminals to exit, take the air-train, then queue up and re-clear security?

    It depends on who you are :). For VVIP's, the airlines have special transfer services that are pre-arranged. Delta operates an airside bus between it's T2 and T4 for everyone.

  • phoog

    phoog Correct answer

    6 years ago

    No. The only way to get from one terminal to another is to exit the terminal and take the air train or a shuttle bus.

    A possible exception to this is for Delta, which operates in Terminals 2 and 4. They apparently have a bus that connects the airside areas of these terminals. See the map here:

    Indications are that this bus will disappear at some point, presumably when construction of a direct link between the two areas has been completed.

    Even between Terminals 2 and 3? On the map those two at least look joined?

    Ah, I must have been looking at an old map then! However... Your link says that there is a Delta gate-to-gate bus between T2 and T4?

    @Gagravarr perhaps there is. I live in New York, so I don't generally transfer in JFK. I don't think I've ever done it. All I know is that if you arrive for the wrong terminal you have a problem -- I don't believe they let you pass security in one terminal and then take the bus to the other.

    TSA will not usually care so long as you present a boarding pass from an airline served from that terminal. If you are on a DL flight out of T2, you will *probably* be allowed to screen at T4. Gate changes happen all the time— but also, TSA training seems to emphasize just matching names and ID. A couple of years ago I was waved through even though I was at entirely the wrong airport (BWI instead of IAD)! Elsewhere it is the airline staff that is picky: a US Airways agent was insistent on inspecting BPs at the shuttle to Terminal E at PHL, as if anyone would ever go Terminal E willingly.

    @choster in my experience, the airline will not give you a boarding pass if you are at the wrong terminal.

    @phoog Granted, I fly American and United almost exclusively, but an airline's kiosk in one terminal of an airport is indistinguishable from its kiosks in any other, for U.S. domestic flights. I don't even understand who would be doing the refusing. Besides, the question is about airside interterminal transfers.

    @choster I understand that the question is about airside transfers; I was responding to your comment about the TSA, who are not generally involved in airside transfers. The experience of which I spoke was trying to check in with luggage, which probably explains the fact that I had to go to the other terminal before checking in. It was also 6 or 7 years ago, so it may no longer be relevant.

    Correct on your delta comment.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM