Why I Won’t Take NYC Airporter Again

 I grew up in southern Connecticut and live in Los Angeles. The worst part of the trip is always getting to the JFK airport since you can’t predict traffic and it’s really expensive. The 42-mile schlep in a car service costs around $150, and shared shuttle vans are a pain since they make a lot of out-of-the-way stops and are unreliable and pricey ($65).

In the past I’ve taken the train into the city then hopped on multiple subways (2) to get the JFK Air Train, but that too is trying when you have luggage. So on this day I decided to try something new: take the train to Grand Central Terminal — GCT ($11.25) and then take the airport bus to JFK ($16); the buses depart across the street from GCT.

I’ve done it when going to Newark and always had a positive experience–after all, they are advertised to depart every 15 minutes and cost $16.

Here’s Why I Won’t Take NYC Airporter Again
When I rolled out of the station at 12:45 p.m., I went up to a roving ticket agent standing next to the airport bus sign and asked if it was the bus for JFK (there are also buses for LGA and EWR). He said yes and that he had one leaving in five minutes. I said, you sure it’s leaving in five minutes and you aren’t just trying to sell me a ticket? He gave me a friendly smile and said of course not. So I plopped down my credit card and paid the $16. It’s a good deal since a taxi is about $65.

After 10 minutes went by I asked one of the other employees where the bus was. She said it was on its way, just stuck in traffic. When it arrived a few minutes later it only had room for one person because it had filled up at their first stop, the Port Authority. I wasn’t the first there, so I didn’t get on, and the other eight waiting passengers were starting to get perturbed like I was. But then another agent came by and said, don’t worry, we have another bus coming in five minutes. A bus did show up, but it was just dropping people off returning from JFK as it made its way to the Port Authority.

I started making friends with a couple people on the curb and we were all getting worried about missing our flights. I met a French pro tennis player who had just lost in the U.S. Open and was flying back to Paris and an older New Yorker woman who was heading to Poland. The latter told me she was skeptical of NYC Airporter because they’re new and that she only chose them because they have nicer-looking buses. I didn’t even realize it was a different company than I’ve used in the past (New York Airport Service). Turns out there are a few companies offering this service and the ticket agents all compete to see who can sell more seats. Note: NYC Airporter doesn’t depart every 15 minutes like its competitors–it leaves every 30 minutes.

At 1:20 p.m. I went over to the friendly female agent and said, what’s going on? When’s the next bus really going to come? She said, It will be here in five minutes. I said, I’m kind of getting sick of the standard five-minute answer. Can you do me a favor and call the driver and find out exactly where he is because I can’t afford to miss my flight. She kindly radioed the driver on her walkie-talkie and I heard him say that he was just about to leave the Port Authority. That’s a good 15 minutes away with midday traffic, so I told her I needed to get my money back so I could take a taxi. She said I needed to go to the guy I bought my ticket from.

On my way I asked my two new friends if they wanted to split a taxi with me. The French guy said yes, but the ticket agent who was standing next to his manager said we couldn’t get our money back. When I turned to the manager and asked he said, sorry but I can’t do that. I felt like I just had been suckered and my blood immediately began to boil. I said, I was told the bus was going to leave in five minutes when I bought my ticket and you’ve been pulling my chain ever since. It’s now 1:25 p.m.

When the agent gave me attitude by saying take a look at the bottom of your ticket (my receipt was ripped but I guess it read “no refunds”), I said, you are messing with the wrong guy, and I quickly took a picture of him with my phone. As I was about to post it to my social networks (Twitter, Facebook, and Google+), he said, did you just take a picture of me? I said, I sure did. We had a few more choice words, but when he realized he really was messing with the wrong guy he asked, how can I make this situation better? I said, get me and the rest of the gang to the airport now or give us our money back.

To make a long story short, he dispatched a Super Shuttle van which must’ve been waiting around the corner on standby and said “come with me.” I made sure my new friends were included in the group he filled the empty van with. It turned out to be a good thing we took the van: the traffic on the highway was horrific but because we were in a van the driver was able to take back roads so we made it to JFK in just 30 minutes.

I got off at the first terminal the driver stopped at, which was Terminal 8, because his next stop was Terminal 1 and I was flying out of Terminal 7 (United). You can’t walk from Terminal 8 to Terminal 7 so I took the Air Train one stop and made my flight with time to spare.

Lessons learned:

-Don’t take NYC Airporter unless you see a bus about to depart and get verbal confirmation from the driver that they have room for you.
-Don’t accept the “it’ll be here in five minutes” answer without getting the exact details.
-Take photos and notes of those involved.
-Use social media.
-If NYC Airporter had not arranged for transportation or refunded my money I would’ve filed a complaint with the BBB and the City of New York.
-Stick up for your rights and those of fellow passengers.
-Keep cool, don’t say things you will regret.
-Don’t carry a gun

Comments

  1. Consider yourself lucky, I’ve had worse -wayyyyy worse experiences with the other company New York Airport Service. One of the agents from the other company NYAS (not nyc airporter) actually spit on me. Enough said.

  2. Traveling Fool says:

    I would not recommend this service. I waited at the Penn Station stop, 33rd and 7th Avenue from 7:30 and. was talking to a driver going to LGA – he pointed out the bus behind him, and said that was my bus. The driver never stopped, never slowed down to even look.

    I then found another bus standing back at 6th Avenue waiting to make his 8:30 pickup. When I asked the driver for his companies phone number, he told me he didn’t know it. His English was poor and his demeanor dismissive. I asked again, and he insisted that he didn’t know it. How would a driver not know the phone number of the company he works for?

    By this time it was 8:15 a.m. and after speaking with the earlier bus driver who had explained that the buses first stop at Penn Station, then Port Authority, then Grand Central, and from there to the airport. Wow, i was waiting for an 8:30 a.m. bus at 8:00 a.m. ? I found the companies number on the side of the bus (I guess the driver couldn’t even tell me that – it may be a big Chinese secret.)

    So I called the company and was told by the dispatcher that I am a lier. What? Why would I lie? I was even chatting with the earlier driver, who pointed the bus out to me. I then had to take a cab to Grand Central to catch the driver who never stopped.

    When talking to the speedy driver, he too was not very good with his English, which may be one of. the problems here. I then spoke with a supervisor at the Grand Central location, and ran into the driver I had been cheating with earlier – who let the supervisor know I had been waiting. I told the supervisor that I would not be using their service to return to the City. He said he was really sorry and that he would like me to use the service again. He knew what I just went through and never offered me any incentive to use the company again. This company sucks!

    I will give you 8 reasons why I won’t use the service again.
    1) I waited over 30 minutes for a bus that sped past me.
    2) The companies dispatcher called me a lier.
    3) I got all sweaty running back and forth across 33rd street.
    4) I was again insulted by a standing driver who didn’t give a shit if I made it to the airport on time.
    5) I had to pay a cab to drive me to the bus that passed up his 33rd street stop.
    6) I thought well, at least they have Wi-Fi (it’s on the side of the bus – but guess what? It doesn’t connect – NO wi-fi on the driver to JFK.
    7) The bus ride was so bumpy, I thought I was in Jamaica and my iPad kept promtimg “undo typing?.”
    8) My back keeps sticking to the seats – yuck!

    Now I understand why there is NO SCHEDULE on their website. Because they can’t keep one. This is not a reliable service, especially if you want to make you filght on time.

  3. I’ve used both NYC airporter and New York airport service and New York Airport Service is by far the worst! They don’t even have buses anymore, they shove you into a van!! I left from Grand Central to JFK so it wasn’t so bad I guess since i left to the airport with plenty of travel time. New York City traffic can be horrid.

  4. Anonymous says:

    From the sounds of the review complainer and the replies you all sound like Caucasoids who are used to be having an indentured servant/maid/housekeeper/multicultural nanny doing the tedious chores for you. So you expect the driver to leave 42nd st and arrive and depart JFK on time. So you expect to be like Moses and split the sea of traffic to cater to your every whim. Wi-Fi? God Forbid! The U. S. Marine.

  5. Anonymous says:

    NYCAIRPORTER is the worst scam ever! I have suffered at their hands this month and needless to add, it WAS AND STILL IS, HORRIFIC!!! The pickup was booked 48 hours in advance via internet and paid for online and it was a no show for 45 minutes AFTER the scheduled pick up time!!! Result: The hotel advised me to hop into a yellow cab if I wanted to make my flight in JFK and since I was in absolute shock and had gone into an anxiety attack, I did just that! Now, no money refunds except all kinds of talk talk and more talk. NEW YORK CITY SHOULD BAN THIS SERVICE FROM TRAUMATISING PEOPLE WHO LOVE THE CITY AND HAVE TO SUFFER DUE TO SUCH A RUBBISH SERVIC WHICH HAS NAMED ITSELF AFTER OUR BELOVED CITY.

    • Anonymous says:

      NYC Airporter picks up from hotels as a complimentary service. Their site states: *IMPORTANT: Please keep in mind that our complimentary shuttle service is purely optional, passengers have the option to use our complimentary shuttles to their hotel or they can take a cab after arriving at Bryant Park. Please take New York City traffic into consideration, we are not responsible for long waiting times for our complimentary shuttles. We will however provide the most professional and efficient service possible to get you to your hotel.

  6. AIRPORTER GOT ME WHERE I NEEDED TO BE AT THE TIME I NEEDED TO ARRIVE! YOU PEOPLE HAVE TO LEARN HOW TO SCHEDULE YOUR STUFF AND ALLOW ENOUGH TIME. THIS IS A BUS NOT A PLANE ! HELLO !! THEIRS TRAFFIC !! AND ITS CHEAP ! U GET WHAT U PAY FOR !

    • Denise Bassen says:

      I took this bus from JFK to Grand Central Station. I had to wait 25 minutes for the bus to, despite the fact that I was told it was coming in ten to fifteen minutes. The bus stopped at every terminal. Then, a ticket taker boarded and demanded money from passengers who might not have paid. It took half an hour to leave the airport. Add that to traffic, and it took one hour and a half to get left off a block from Grand Central. Never again. Try a van for twenty to twenty five dollars. It might take an hour in traffic, but it won’t add the extra half hour stopping at all the terminals and waiting for the ticket tally. I am offended by some of the posts obviously written by employees. This service is a last resort. Try to take the Sky Train to Jamaica. At least there is no traffic problem, and that is the cheapest way to go.
      ..

  7. The bus that Airporter used to get us into NYC was a disgrace .I felt I was in a third world country. This bus was falling apart. I don’t think that it was ever inspected. It definitely had safety issues. . .It was filthy, you could not see out of the windows. The tires appeared to be thread bare. . , It was similar to a school bus. It rattled so much that I thought my kidneys would be affected. .I thought I was on the Cyclone. I mentioned this to the bus driver and his reply was
    ” What about me… I have to drive this thing. . I was embarrassed that first time visitors to the US were exposed to these horrible conditions.

    Furthermore I was told that the bus would take me to Penn station… Then informed that first stop would be Grand Central Sta. , then Port of Authority and final destination was Penn Sta.
    I could not wait to get out of this death trap at GC Station and take a cab home. No one knew where the bus would have its first stop… The big excuse was the our President was in town. (Tuesday, September 24th)

    This company’s license should be suspended.

    I am definitely putting in a complaint with the transportation dept. and Port of Authority.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Oooh please….it’s cheap you have to come back. You can’t find a better deal than that. Those who complain about this service are whack you all still coming back. It’s like a cracked head coming back for his crack… complain all you want but you still be riding that bus to the airport

  9. HappyBusinessTraveler says:

    I’m in NYC for the first time and used the NYC Airporter bus to and from JFK and have had no problems at all. The staff have been courteous and helpful. The bus came when it was supposed to and both rides have been on nice new comfy buses. I suppose many of you will assume I’m an employee but I’m not. I wouldn’t hesitate to use this bus again. I hate riding super shuttle vans — I swear I’m always the first on and the last off.

  10. Happy Traveler says:

    I had a fabulous experience with NYC Airporter. I bought my round trip ticket online and took Metro North to Grand Central. I walked one block and there was the agents with Green jackets. I boarded the coach bus, there was one other person on board, the driver got on and off we went to JFK. They dropped me off at my terminal and voila! On the return trip it was a smaller bus and did stop at a few terminals and then dropped me back at Grand Central. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

  11. Michael from NC Stix. says:

    I also had no trouble with the Airporter, In fact the agent at LGA approached me and gave me assistance. They even radioed ahead to the driver that had just left to wait at the next stop at the terminal and I could/did rush down and catch it. On return,When I left GS, the bus was mostly empty, and I encountered the only rude person in my entire stay in Manhattan, when I inquired if I was at the right place and bus back to LGA, he abruptly told me to “Get on the Bus”. If that is as bad as I ever get it, I’ll be a happy camper. This was the weekend before TG 2013.

  12. I can definitely rally around your decision. Here is the reason I will NEVER take the NYCairporter bus again:

    A NYCAIRPORTER EMPLOYEE STOLE MY IPHONE! After leaving my iPhone on a nycairporter bus (admittedly, my mistake) that dropped me off at LaGuardia airport, my phone was stolen by a nycairporter employee. After getting off the bus and immediately realizing I had forgotten my iPhone, I called the customer service line and was told that they had found it and they would mail it to me. After going back and forth for days, they now say that they do not have the phone and higher management refuses to take my calls or answer my emails. I was told by a helpful employee (the one and only after many phone calls) that this has happened 3 – 4 times in the few years that he has worked there. Please do not give this company your money while they’re encouraging theft by not taking action!

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