How To Find Cheap Transportation To And From Major Airports

The Keisei line train to Narita International Airport, Tokyo, Japan. (Photo: Peter Broster)

When you budget out your big trip, it’s easy to forget about transportation to and from the airport. It can really cost you if you aren’t careful. Fortunately, all of the world’s busiest airports have affordable options. These are the types of transportation you should look for if you’re hoping to save some cash.

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Shuttle Services

These types of bus services are specifically for transport to and from the airport, so they’re different to normal public bus routes. These rides will usually cost you between $15 and $30, and while they aren’t the fastest method of transport, they will take you right up to your terminal. Keep in mind, these rides are shared with other passengers, so give yourself plenty of time to get there.

For example, travel blog The Points Guy recommends:

  • the FlyAway service for Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), which has pick-up points all over the city (shuttles are also available at the arrivals level if you’re heading into the city);
  • the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) has the Super Shuttle, which offers rides from hotels in the downtown area; and
  • Narita International Airport (NRT) outside Tokyo, Japan has the Tokyo Shuttle, which runs several times every hour from Tokyo Station.

Don’t forget to check with your hotel as well. Many major hotels offer van shuttle services to and from the airport for low or no cost to hotel guests.

Public Transit

If there are no shuttle services available, there’s always public transit. Most major cities’ train and bus routes have a stop at the airport.

These rides usually cost less than $15, often less than $10, and are guaranteed to get you to the airport, eventually. While it’s the most affordable method of transportation, public transit can eat up a lot of time — plan accordingly.

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As you can see, there are plenty of public transit offerings out there. Just Google Search “[airport] + [public transit]” and you’ll find what you need.

If you’re not sure what line or bus to take, don’t hesitate to ask someone. Getting on the wrong route could cost you in both money and time.

Express Trains

If you’re willing to pay a little more than you would for standard public transit, some cities have express trains that go to and from their major airports. These options could cost you anywhere from $5 to $55, depending on where you are and how fast you need to get to the airport.

  • For Narita International Airport (NRT), you can catch the Keisei Main Line Limited Express for around $15, or hop on the faster JR Narita Express (but it costs nearly three times as much);
  • Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) has the SEPTA Airport Line that takes right to City Center;
  • London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) has the Heathrow Express, which gets you to the airport in a snap for less than $30;
  • Arizona’s Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport (PHX) has the PHX Sky Train that takes you to the Valley Metro Rail, which can take you to city centres in Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa;
  • Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) has the ever-looping Airport Express, which costs less than $10;
  • New York City’s JFK can be reached by the AirTrain, via MTA subway or the Long Island Rail Road; and
  • Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) has the fast Airport Express train for about $20.

Keep in mind, most express trains leave from metro or subway stations, so you may have to buy a ticket to reach the express train.

Ride Shares (If You’re Close)

Last but not least, you can always try to grab a Lyft or Uber to the airport. This is best if you’re already fairly close to the airport (less than 30 minutes drive) and it isn't peak rush hour.

I’ve caught rides from LAX for $27 plus tip multiple times, and managed a ride to JFK from Brooklyn for about $34 plus tip during non-surge periods, so it doesn’t hurt to open up the app and see what it might cost you to get picked up. It’s all in the timing.


Comments

    In many places, hotels in the area also provide shuttle services, so if those major airports are your destination (and I'm assuming they would be, otherwise transport away from them makes less sense), then talk to your hotel to see what services they can offer.

    In most cities though, theres generally a reasonably priced option somewhere, and signage to help you. Cities are well aware that the airports are MAJOR transport hubs, and that servicing them is pretty much a priority.

    Many Australian Airports have either a train service or a shuttle bus service. Perth is currently putting in an underground line to service our international and domestic terminals. This should be ready around 2020.
    There are Transperth services that leave from St Georges Terrace that go through the airport and shuttles between the different terminals.
    There is a direct line to Sydney airport from Central but last time I used that , stopping at the airport was strangely more expensive than buying a ticket to a station on the other side of the airport.
    Melbourne did not have a direct train service when I was last there, however my friend Tim Richards has a cheap arse way to get to the airport from the city.
    http://aerohaveno.blogspot.com/2014/02/to-melbourne-airport-cheap-arse-way.html
    Brisbane has a direct line from the city to the airport.

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