Skip to content

Riding the new JFK bus that simplifies American Airlines-JetBlue connections

Sept. 16, 2021
5 min read
Riding the new JFK bus that simplifies American Airlines-JetBlue connections
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

The Northeast Alliance between American Airlines and JetBlue is coming to life.

In addition to a slew of new routes, more than 100 codeshare flights and reciprocal loyalty benefits, the two airlines have teamed up to make it easier to connect in New York’s busiest airport — using a shuttle bus.

At New York-JFK, each of the airport’s six terminals operates like its own fiefdom. None are physically attached to each other, and getting between them has historically required exiting security, picking up your luggage and taking the AirTrain.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

So, when AA and JetBlue joined forces in the Northeast, they needed to figure out how to make it easier for travelers to get between Terminal 5 (JetBlue’s home) and Terminal 8 (American’s home). After all, a key selling point of the alliance was that JetBlue would provide domestic connectivity to AA’s long-haul flights from JFK, and vice versa.

Want more airline-specific news? Sign up for TPG's free biweekly Aviation newsletter!

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Well, to streamline connections, AA and JetBlue tapped ABM, a facility services manager specializing in airports, to launch an airside bus between Terminal 5 and 8 that would provide a direct, post-security connection between each airline’s home.

Though I much prefer flying from airports, I took one for the team and trekked out to JFK just to put the bus ride to the test — how does it work and does it really streamline connections?

Turns out, it’s no more than just a shuttle bus — and not a fancy one like United has in Denver — but that’s enough to dramatically improve the JFK connection experience.

When I arrived at Terminal 8, I immediately saw plenty of signs directing passengers booked on a JetBlue codeshare flight — indicated by an AA flight number between 9100 and 9600 — to head to Gate 13 to catch the bus to Terminal 5.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Along the way, I took a look at the departure monitors and was impressed to see all the JetBlue codeshares listed on the AA boards, along with the flight status and instructions to proceed to Terminal 5.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

It wasn’t hard to find Gate 13. Located in the center of Terminal 8’s main concourse, it’s nearly impossible to miss.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Plus, there’s a large sign that reads “Gate 13 Shuttle Bus,” along with a uniformed representative waiting to check your boarding pass and confirm that you’re headed in the right direction.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Once verified, you’re instructed to descend down the escalator and wait for the next bus. For now, they run every 15 minutes, though that’ll drop to ten minutes as flight schedules increase.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

There isn’t much in the way of passenger amenities in the waiting area, but an American Airlines spokesperson told TPG that an enhanced product and experience are on the way, without providing any additional details.

Once it was time to board, the doors opened and a ramp extended to accommodate persons who use a wheelchair.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

There weren’t any other passengers on my bus, but I witnessed two disembark in Terminal 8 while I was boarding. It was likely just a slow Monday afternoon because the airline spokesperson said that usage has been “performing well.”

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

We didn’t wait long to depart. As we pulled out, I caught a glimpse of some American Boeing 777s, before we drove towards Terminal 7, passing by AA’s transatlantic partner, British Airways, and finally arriving at the home of its newest partner, JetBlue.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Once inside the dungeons of Terminal 5, I took an elevator up to the departures level, where I found myself standing in a small hold room across from Gate 26.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

I quickly exited the hold room, snapped a photo and proceeded with my day.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

At just 15 minutes total from Terminal 8 to 5, including waiting time, this is a major improvement to the JFK connection experience. Overall, this secure side transfer reduces the average connection time for customers traveling between T5 and T8 by 30-35 minutes.

Yes, it’s just a bus, but compared to taking the AirTrain and reclearing security, this is a welcome start to “phase one of implementation,” as the spokesperson described it.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

As for what’s coming, who knows, but one thing’s for certain: a simple bus ride can go a long way.

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

TPG featured card

Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 3X points
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points60,000 points
For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases