I'm doing the JFK Airtrain thing from LIRR Penn station. Has anybody found escalators or an elevator to get from street level to ticketing? Are there elevators to the platforms too? I've always just done the awkward suitcase dance down the stairs, but it sure would be nice if I could find an elevator.
on the SW corner of 34th st at seventh avenue there is a LIRR entrance, with a long escalator that takes you down directly to the LIRR ticket concourse level (which is one level below Amtrak/NJ Transit) or 2 levels below the street
but you still have another flight of stairs down to the platform-on some platforms there are escalators running up, but i don't ever remember seeing them run down!
and its embarassing to say i can't tell you where there are elevators- but i know i've seen handicapped symbols around
i will be in Penn Station tomorrow evening and will do a look-see and report back
but with all the shlepping- did you consider a door-to-door car service- and avoid Jamaica all-together?
Actually on the LIRR side, you have two choices for escalators going to the LIRR ticket areas. One was already described which is on 34th just before 7th Avenue on the SW corner. The other is on the 7th Avenue and 32nd Street right at the entrance to MSG. You take that one down and then turn right for a second elevator which takes you the LIRR ticket areas.
As for elevators/escalators, there is no uniformity of location so since I don't know from which track your train will depart, I really can't help you. I don't have tracks 13-21 memorized.
That said, when you get to Jamaica, you'll have escalators available to you. Just sit toward the front of the train (on the 7th Avenue side).
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There are elevators/escalators to all the LIRR tracks. From the main ticket booths, walk towards Eighth Avenue (past the KMart); just across from the Bon Cafe there's a big board with departures and track numbers. Elevators to the various platforms are in this area the left (opposite the stairs to the platforms). There's also an escalator down to one platform. (There are also some ticket machines in this area.)
I do this trip frequently and generally enter from the 34th St. LIRR entrance--it's the most direct. No stairs the entire trip. There are usually working escalators at Jamaica, but there are also elevators.
Not a surprise that these elevators were not operating. Also the 8th Avenue side will put you in the back of the train and you really want to be toward the front 1/3 of the train for easy access to the escalators up to the Airtrain. Unless you really can't physically lift them at all, I recommend just walking your baggage down the set of steps to the train. You may even luck out that an escalator is actually not only turned on but going down. Some tracks entrances have escalators but you never know if they are working.
Worst comes to the worst, there are lots of police officers there. Ask one of them to help you carry your bags to the platform. They are very friendly and I have seen them help others who have asked.