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.
For many, the airport is a place filled with frustration and anxiety. But for others, the airport is a peaceful place where you don't exist - no one does - and I love it. You're allowed to do absolutely nothing and sometimes, that's exactly what the soul of a weary traveller needs.
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.
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.
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) has the Red Line and the Gold Line of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transport Authority (MARTA), which both end at the airport;
- Portland International Airport (PDX) has the MAX Red line;
- Cleveland Hopkins International (CLE) has the RTA Red Line;
- Heathrow Airport (LHR) in London, England has the Piccadilly Line and the N9 bus;
- Miami International Airport (MIA) has the Metrorail Orange line;
- Dubai International Airport (DXB) has the Dubai Metro Red Line;
- Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) has the UTA TRAX train;
- Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) has the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Orange Line;
- Sea-Tac (SEA) in Seattle, Washington offers the Sound Transit Central Link;
- Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP) has the Metro Blue Line;
- O’Hare International Airport (ORD) in Chicago, Illinois has the Chicago Transit Authority Blue Line;
- San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has the BART Yellow Line;
- Washington DC’s Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport connects you to the Metrorail Yellow line; and
- Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) can be accessed by their public bus system.
Flight delays occur fairly regularly, but they're a lot less likely to happen at certain times of the day. If you need a flight that's almost guaranteed to stay on schedule, you better put on a pot of coffee - you'll need to leave bright and early.
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.
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.