Things You Did Not Know About John F. Kennedy International Airport

A wonder of architecture, more so than other local airports.

JFK or John F. Kennedy Airport isn’t a name the world is unfamiliar with. Serving as the main international airport for New York City, it is undoubtedly the busiest among the remaining seven airports. It hosts over 90 airlines and facilitates flights to several destinations on all six continents. Located southeast of Midtown Manhattan, JFK is a hub for Delta and American Airlines. Here’s everything you need to know about its humble beginnings that date to the year 1948.

It Wasn’t Always John F. Kennedy Airport

Following the unfortunate event of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, the airport was renamed as a tribute to him. Before this, it was commonly known as Idlewild Airport after the Idlewild Beach Golf Course it had displaced.

The First Ever Flight from this Airport Departed On July 1, 1948

Soon after the inauguration ceremony, which Harry S. Truman attended, then-US President, foreign airline permits to use LaGuardia were canceled. This was done to bring more traffic to Idlewild in the first few years of its existence.

At the time, the airport only had a single terminal building, but a year later, plans were put in place to expand it to 215,501 square feet. The years following this witnessed even more development. By 1952, there were taxiways, expanded buildings, and a control tower.

It Witnessed the Greatest International Air Traffic in 1954

1954 was the fortunate year when John F. Kennedy Airport witnessed its highest volume of international air traffic. It was majorly due to architect Wallace Harrison’s efforts since he made sure to design a plan for every major airline at the airport. Soon, separate terminals for each airline made construction far more efficient and practical. 

The Airport Ground is Used By the Army and NASA

JFK airport has a special runway and a built-in military station for Air Force One. For this reason, this part of the airport is kept strictly inaccessible to the public.

Furthermore, the airport has also signed agreements with NASA, where it has agreed to allow the landing of space shuttles on their longest runway. However, it isn’t the primary landing spot for NASA’s space shuttles.

There’s an Abandoned Hotel on JFK’s Ground

Yes, you read it right. The Ramada Plaza, which was once the airport’s only hotel, was closed in 2009. Before the official closure, it was also nicknamed the “Heartbreak Hotel” since it no longer operated as a hotel. Instead, it served as temporary housing for flight crew, media, and families following a number of nearby plane crashes. Even now, JFK airport does not have a hotel on the grounds.

However, hotels like Crowne Plaza and the Courtyard by Marriott are still adjacent to the airport. It was in the year 2015 when the Governor announced that the TWA Flight Center building could be used by the TWA hotel. The hotel consists of over 500 rooms and about 40,000 square feet of meeting, event, and conference space.

The 5th Terminal of the Airport is Designed Like an Airplane.

Also known as T5, this popular terminal was designed by Eero Saarinen, a famous architect. The same terminal has also hosted a number of concert series featuring artists such as Daughtry, Lady Antebellum, and Taylor Swift.

Several airports around the world are popular settings for movies, and JFK isn’t any behind in the race. The all-time classic “catch Me If You Can” by Steven Spielberg was filmed here. In 2004, another movie, “The Terminal,” was also set in JFK but filmed elsewhere.

The Airport Also Has a Terminal for Pets

The terminal “Ark” was primarily built to facilitate people who were traveling with their pets or any other animals. This luxury terminal for pets was the only one at the time it opened in 2017. However, only a year later, the terminal’s owner sued the Port Authority for a clause violation that would have allowed Ark to inspect animals that arrived at the airport from other countries. The owner also claimed that the terminal underwent a huge loss because most animals were transported to a US Department of Agriculture facility in Newburgh.

How to Access the Airport


Currently, the Q3 bus serves Terminal 8, while Q7 & 6 serve the airport’s cargo terminals. The B15 and Q10 serve the Lefferts Boulevard station. Bus fares can be paid through OMNY systems or MetroCard, and free transfers are provided to the city’s subway services.


Most cars can access the airport through the Van Wyck Expressway since it’s connected to the Belt Parkway. The airport also consists of parking facilities with surface spaces and multi-level terminal garages.

The main parking lot can accommodate over 17,000 vehicles, and the travel plaza on the property also has a filling station and a food court. Taxis are all licensed by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission.


Each line of AirTrain JFK stops at each passenger terminal since it’s the airport’s primary rail network. The same system also serves the long-term parking lot and two transit stations, Jamaica and Howard Beach.

Even though the airport allows you to AirTrain travel without cost, you will be required to pay via MetroCard for external transfers that take you to the MTA Bus, Long Island Rail Road, and the New York City Subway services.

Wrapping Up!

John F. Kennedy International Airport isn’t only one of the busiest airports in the world but also super luxurious. With a separate terminal for pets, it is the most frequently used airport in New York City and the United States. With millions of travelers passing through it every year, it is the hub of aviation activity in the country as well as the rest of the world. Whether you’re traveling to the US or simply passing through it, you wouldn’t want to miss out on a tour of this luxurious airport.

The McClain Family

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