The upside of the points and miles universe is that you get to do things you’d otherwise never get to do. That’s great when it means flying in business class to Asia or staying in five-star European hotels. However, it also means that you occasionally do things you otherwise would have avoided because they’d seem impractical.
This was the case for our trip to New York in December. We had three free night certificates from Hyatt which were expiring at the end of the year. Why not take a long weekend trip to New York?
I had to be back at work by Monday afternoon but there are plenty of early morning flights from NYC to Orlando. We flew to New York on Friday morning and saw shows non-stop for three days, except for our Sunday night show of Little Shop of Horrors, which was canceled because of Omicron.
Our flight home on Monday was at 8 AM from JFK on JetBlue. I knew from our arriving flight that taking the Subway & the JFK Airtrain would take about 1 hour. Since we’d have to catch a train around 5:30 in the morning, there’d be no room for error, as the next train wouldn’t arrive for another 20 minutes. That didn’t take into account having to lug our bags to the station first thing in the morning.
I checked the rates for NYC Taxis and there’s a set rate for rides to JFK airport.
- Trips between Manhattan and John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) in either direction:
- Plus 50 cents MTA State Surcharge.
- Plus 30 cents Improvement Surcharge.
- $4.50 rush-hour surcharge (4pm to 8pm weekdays, excluding legal holidays).
- Plus New York State Congestion Surcharge of $2.50 (Yellow Taxi) or $2.75 (Green Taxi and FHV) or 75 cents (any shared ride) for all trips that begin, end or pass through Manhattan south of 96th Street.
- Plus tips and any tolls.
- The on-screen rate message should read “Rate #2- JFK Airport.”
That would be $60 plus a tip for the ride. I asked the front desk how difficult would it be to get a taxi from the hotel at 5:30 AM. The reply was that it would depend. Sometimes it’s 5 minutes, other times it’s 30 minutes.
I went to my phone and checked with Uber to see how much it would cost to schedule a ride to the airport. Their price was around $70-$90. When I checked Lyft, the prices were about the same. I know that scheduling a ride is not a guarantee, it only means they’ll ask for a ride when you need it. No promises that a driver will accept it.
Finally, I asked the front desk if they could arrange for a car service to take us to the airport. They had to get the valet involved, who said the ride would be $85 plus a $5 surcharge if we wanted to pay by card. Given the choices we had, I told them to set it up. I confirmed the service when we got back to the hotel the night before.
At 5:20 AM, our room phone rang and told us that our driver was waiting for us outside the hotel. We headed downstairs and outside to a waiting Toyota RAV4. Plenty of room for us and our carry-on bags. We got in and I made sure to tell the driver that we were going to JFK T5. That’s when he confirmed our names since the week before he picked up the wrong guests who had prepaid with a different service. Oops.
We drove to JFK and I’m still amazed at the amount of traffic leaving Manhattan at six in the morning. When we got to the airport, the driver asked for my credit card and handed me his phone with a charge for $105 and if I wanted to add a tip.
What could I do? I didn’t confirm the price when we got in the car, as I thought it was a set rate for hotel guests. The price quote I received was from the valet parking staff to the front desk. Maybe one of them got it wrong like in a game of telephone.
I was not awake enough to make a fuss and in the grand scheme of things, we’re only talking about $15. If I had received that price quote when booking, I probably still would have taken it instead of taking the chance of getting a Taxi or Uber early in the morning.
I didn’t mention it to the hotel, which I probably should have. If there’s a miscommunication between the car service and valet on the price, it needs to be rectified. If the car service is ripping off guests, that’s a different problem altogether.
Back to my original problem of booking an early flight from New York. Unless you’re going to be staying the night at a JFK Airport hotel (and you should probably avoid this one), beware that your options to get from Manhattan to the airport for a morning flight are going to range from inexpensive but inconvenient to costly and then expensive. In addition, if you arrange for a car service from your hotel, make sure to get the quote in writing to avoid an uncomfortable situation when getting out of the car to get to your flight.
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