Travel is not always glamorous. On my recent trip back to the US, we had an overnight layover at JFK between disconnected flights. The gap was long enough that I wondered if it was worthwhile, but we decided to try out sleeping at JFK airport. Keep reading for tips for surviving this lovely JFK layover.
- Do I recommend sleeping in JFK?
- Where to go in JFK overnight
- …Lounges in JFK?
24 hourfood in JFK
- Tips for staying overnight at JFK
- Hotels near JFK Airport
Do I recommend sleeping in JFK?
Although there are some options for where to sleep in JFK day-time, overnight at JFK is a very different story, especially before security. If you’re flying internationally and need to go through border control (like I did), you may not have the option of staying overnight in JFK. Similarly, you’ll want to pick up your bags, which lay after border control.
I generally would not recommend sleeping in JFK, however our tight budget flying from the Netherlands to reach Charlotte, North Carolina meant that it wasn’t realistic to get a hotel for just five hours. We had an eight-hour layover between disconnected flights. Although my parents live in New York, I was too worried about the traffic to JFK in the morning and I didn’t want to force my dad to pick us up at
If you’re considering sleeping in JFK, it’s deeply uncomfortable and there are dividers, so you can’t lay down. My husband managed to sleep with his head on a table near the Dunkin Donuts, but there was too much going on for me to sleep well. When I found a quieter spot in our destination terminal, we were told that it was closed and there was nowhere to sleep. Another terminal had an out of service toilet. Simply, it was pretty miserable.
Hotels near JFK Airport
If you’ve read this already and you’re thinking NO, I completely understand. I wish that I had booked a
Where to go in JFK overnight
Terminal One is the only terminal in JFK with things open all night. You’ll find some booths with dividers, limited options for food (detailed below), and some toilets. Nobody said sleeping in JFK was glamourous…
…Lounges in JFK overnight?
….Not overnight as of the time that this article was published. 🙁
Wifi at JFK?!
Luckily, there is fast reliable Wifi at JFK at this available overnight. You’re not allowed to use it for Netflix, but I was able to catch up on the news as well as get some work done while waiting for my flight in the food court.
Toilets in JFK
The toilets at JFK are free and are generally cleaned overnight. Next to a number of toilets, you’ll find a machine where you can refill bottles for free with cold water. I recommend saving an empty bottle for this!
Showers in JFK Airport
…Sorry. If you’re feeling dirty, you can wash your face in the restroom. Otherwise, you’ll need to wait until you get through airport security in order to access one of the lounges with a shower. This is not possible overnight.
24-hour food in JFK
Terminal One has a lackluster food court. It’s the main twenty-four-hour food option within JFK for now. Update: You can also go to Terminal 4 for 24/7 American diner fare at Central Diner.
Dunkin Donuts is an American staple. Whether you intend to sleep or not, there’s something fitting about eating donuts at
Korean ramen / snacks
In the back of the food court, you’ll find a small Korean stand. It’s pretty far from what you’ll find in Flushing, but they serve ramen with tofu, a welcome change from the average airport food. They also had various nice ice teas and assorted soft drinks.
Not really surprising, but you’ll find a McDonald’s here. I ended up caving for a Diet Coke and a cookie at some point in the night. Save the cup to refill your cup with water later!
Terminal 4: Central Diner
Looking for something hearty, delicious, and American? Central Diner is open 24/7. This diner before security at Terminal 4 has places to charge up your phone, pancakes, and burgers. Reviews aren’t great online, so don’t have too high expectations.
…Other food options
If you’re looking for something less overpriced and something far tastier, consider taking a cab elsewhere to one of these options for fine dining past midnight that isn’t too far away from JFK. Just be aware that many diners and casual restaurants in New York may be cash-only, so take out some cash at the airport beforehand!
Cross Bay Diner
There’s nothing like New York’s 24 hour diners and watching the world pass you by as you sip on unlimited (weak) coffee and snack on fries. Just around the corner from JFK, a short taxi ride away, you’ll find the Cross Bay Diner if you’re itching for a change from sitting in Terminal One.
Korean food along Northern Boulevard
For something further away from JFK and delicious, consider taking a taxi (or bus) towards Flushing. Along Northern Avenue, you’ll find a number of Korean restaurants that are open twenty four hours. I’ve been to SGD Tofu House and if you’re looking for a meal to make this layover less miserable with, consider stopping off here. Their kimchi silky tofu soup was phenomenal.
Tips for staying overnight at JFK
If you’re staying at JFK overnight, be sure to bring a neck pillow with you to ensure that you can sleep standing up without giving yourself a significant amount of neck pain. An inflatable travel pillow would work too.
JFK tends to be on the colder side, so be sure to avoid wearing shorts (if possible) and to have a blanket or a pair of pants to put on over your clothes. I ended up layering up my clothes as I was cold and didn’t have a jacket with me.
Expect your sleep to slightly impacted as the employees will be cleaning around you. I managed to fall asleep for a little bit,
I’d recommend keeping a close eye on your stuff as this is a public place. Although everyone kept to themselves in my case, you never know and it might be worth investing in a padlock. I ended up looping my handbag underneath my arm.
Think carefully about your layover before you do this. We saved around $1,000 total by doing our trip this way, however it was fairly rough. If you’re with children, I believe that this journey will be considerably harder on them as it wore on us considerably as we each had a small amount of sleep….