There are several means of transportation from the airports in the New York City area. Most international flights arrive at John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK), although some airlines fly into Newark.
It is not necessary to arrange transportation prior to your arrival at the airport. Limousine service, taxis, and bus shuttles are readily available at the airport. A word of caution: You may be approached inside the airport terminal with offers of a “cheap” ride to your destination. DO NOT go with these individuals. If you are planning to take a taxi, go outside the terminal and wait in the taxi line. If taking a limousine, go through the airport-operated companies.
This is definitely the easiest method to get from the airport to the university. At every airport you will find a taxi queue outside the doors of baggage claim. The fare from JFK airport is a flat rate of $35 plus toll ($3.50) and tip (15%) and takes approximately 45 minutes. It is customary to tip taxi drivers 15% of the fare. No more than four individuals may ride in one taxi (luggage permitting).
Airtrain and Subway
This is the least expensive method into the city, with a fare of $7.50 per person. The Airtrain stops at all terminals and connects with the subway at Howard Beach. To get to Columbia from the Howard Beach subway station, take the A line toward Manhattan. At Columbus Circle (59th Street Station) transfer to the 1/9 lines heading uptown, and exit at 116th street and Broadway which is near the entrance gates to Columbia University. However, it is time consuming, and potentially confusing. In addition, foreigners with a great deal of luggage can be easy targets for thieves.
Buses depart JFK and Newark Airports every half hour beginning at 6 a.m. until 12 a.m. Go to the Ground Transportation Desk in the Airport to purchase a ticket (approximately $13 per person from JFK), and you will be directed to an outside waiting area for the bus to the Port Authority Bus Terminal on 42nd and 8th Avenue in downtown Manhattan. There are luggage porters at the Port Authority but they are not easy to catch. The bus will take one hour to reach the Port Authority. From the Port Authority Bus terminal you can take the subway lines 1/9 uptown local to 116th Street and Broadway for $2.00, or a taxi for approximately $10.
You may also reserve a seat on the Super Shuttle which takes you from the airport to your home destination for approximately $19 from Kennedy Airport, by visiting their website.