I had an opportunity to ride the AirTrain last night as my mom and her manfriend were at JFK for a 7-hour layover before going to Brazil. The boyfriend's daughter works for a major airline, so they were flying standby which brought them, at the last minute, to the Far Rockaways. The trip out there wasn't too bad, I took the J train out to Sutphin Ave to get to the AirTrain terminal. Do lots of people come through here (there's also an LIRR station there)? It was pretty empty when I came through at 6 o'clock, which gave everything this eerie deserted quality, like a once-great civilization that had been laid waste by unknown, sinister forces. Something like Logan's Run, or Children of the Corn.
I never go to JFK airport, so this was all pretty new to me. When I go to LaGuardia, I always take a car service, which usually runs $20-25 for me. Technically the AirTrain is only $5 each way, so it would seem to be a far better deal. And I suppose if you only had a small rolling suitcase you'd be okay taking this route. But it kind of took forever, plus I was sitting next to this loud couple of foreigners, the woman who kept singing out like she was auditioning for American Idol, the guy barking (why?) like a frat boy and shouting "New Yorrrrrk!!!" every few minutes.
Which reminds me, there are a couple of AirTrain lines, one goes from the E/J/Z station, one goes from the A/C station. The loud couple had meant to take the A-bound AirTrain, but they screwed up and had been riding the Jamaica-bound train several circumnavigations of the airport. Still, they seemed content to ride around barking and singing the evening away.
My whole trip from midtown to JFK took 1.5 hours, I guess it could be worse. It took about 45 minutes for me to get home. I'm still not sure if this was worth it for $10 round-trip compared to just taking a car, but well, if you're just planning on meeting some people in the food court of the airport for a couple of hours, you could do worse. But I'm not sure it wouldn't be just as easy (if not quicker) to take the A train to the bus. Not to mention even cheaper.
And hey, it's the one-year anniversary of me passing out on busy city streets and waking up unawares in a third-rate hospital, only to be sequestered there for several days so some young residents could make sure they didn't know what was wrong with me. It was like being an extra on Scrubs. Except it was actually kind of amusing.