Old Aug 9, 19, 8:39 am
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: NYC
Programs: AA GLD, AC
Posts: 2,363
Originally Posted by synthkeys View Post
If you're really keen on trying to make 5PM flight, I'd leave just a bit more time maybe 15-30 mins to be on the safe side, but I'm a bit of a worry-wart about these things. The only caution is while NJT normally works fine, there's random major delays that can pop up that make Penn Station a nightmare. I'm a daily commuter on NJT through Penn Station and it seems like every few weeks one these occur. Also train cancellations have become an almost daily occurrence. So if you're looking to catch a 3:47PM bound for EWR, and that happens to be cancelled last minute, then you may need to wait another 30 mins or so for the next train which might muck up your plans.

I don't mean to sound like Chicken Little here, but I'm battling PTSD from being an NJ Transit commuter.
I got caught in an epic meltdown at Penn the evening of July 3, when I was trying to catch a train to Philly. Some accident in the Lincoln Tunnel led to all the Port Authority buses to NJ being cancelled, so everyone waiting for a bus walked over to Penn to try to catch a train - on top of the already high volume of regular passengers trying to get out of town on a holiday weekend. The ensuing crush of people was like nothing I've ever seen before. People couldn't get onto trains because there was literally no physical room for them. This was not helped by NJT posting a track for my train and then, once everyone pushed their way into said train, announcing that in fact the train would not be going to Trenton but was instead Long Beach-bound, or something like that. So everyone then had to fight their way off the train and back into the station, only to repeat the process later.

Another, less-extreme example: I once took NJT to EWR, but there were no Airtrains running, so they put us on a shuttle bus. Fine. However, the shuttle bus could not get into the airport grounds because someone had locked a gate across the access road the bus was supposed to travel down. So we just sat there for probably 15 minutes or so until they found someone who could unlock the gate so the bus could continue to the terminals.

These are obviously unusual situations, but I mention them to highlight the fact that NYC is basically a third-world city, and therefore you should leave extra time in your schedule in case of unexpected, third-world chaos. I personally would aim to leave Midtown four hours before my flight is due to take off, but I always err on the side of caution when it comes to travel times. But even if you're more daring than I am, I'd say 3 hours is the absolute minimum.

And I am in awe if the OP can really make it from the UWS to EWR in just an hour. I feel like the Airtrain alone can eat up 30 minutes, depending on how long you have to wait for it.
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