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How early should I leave NYC (Upper West Side) for EWR?

How early should I leave NYC (Upper West Side) for EWR?

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Old Aug 4, 19, 7:42 am
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How early should I leave NYC (Upper West Side) for EWR?

Original flight is at 6:00 p.m. from terminal C.

It usually takes me a little over an hour to get to EWR from the UWS (if I take the subway to Penn Station and transfer to the NJ Transit to the AirTrain).

I'm thinking, if I leave at 3:00 p.m., I could probably make it to EWR a little after 4:00 p.m. and catch the 5:00 p.m. flight, but last time I did that it was July 3 and the TSA PreCheck line was insane. I made it to my flight, but it definitely was a scramble.

Besides 7/3/19, I've never seen the PreCheck line insanely long. Has anyone been flying out of EWR consistently this summer? What was your experience like? Do you think leaving 2 hours before your flight using public transportation is sufficient?
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Old Aug 8, 19, 6:59 pm
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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.
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Old Aug 9, 19, 6:10 am
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1st step - check NJT website for delays before departing. You are typically okay due to frequency of service on NJCL & NEC lines even with a few delays.
If/when it works perfectly (majority of time) you will get there quickly and forced to wait at airport. Much better vs. panicking in Kearny or Harrison because you were cutting it close.
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Old Aug 9, 19, 8:39 am
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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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Old Aug 9, 19, 9:05 am
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Originally Posted by M60_to_LGA View Post
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.
I'd corroborate the ~hour (maybe a few minutes more) from UWS to EWR, though I can't speak of recent TSA experiences. I would note that this usually involves picking a specific train, because the NJT schedules can be sporadic, especially on weekends.
In contrast, I don't usually bother looking at the schedule or targeting a specific train when taking the LIRR to JFK, as it's rarely more than 10-15 minutes between trains (other than a few times each day where there may be a 20-25m gap, and of course outside of late-night hours).

I don't go to EWR nearly as much as I used to, since UA took over CO, but back then I rarely left Manhattan more than 2-2.5 hours before my flight if taking the train. I think one time I cut it very close due to a snafu at Penn, but obviously NJT is in much worse shape than 5 years ago, so it's not unreasonable to add more time (or just fly via JFK!).
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Old Aug 12, 19, 3:51 am
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What about the bus from Port Authority to EWR; mid day on a Monday in August. Not much traffic? This is for a few people with a lot of luggage so I'm thinking the bus would be better. Would it take about an hour to get out to EWR?
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Old Aug 12, 19, 9:00 am
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Originally Posted by stimpy View Post
What about the bus from Port Authority to EWR; mid day on a Monday in August. Not much traffic? This is for a few people with a lot of luggage so I'm thinking the bus would be better. Would it take about an hour to get out to EWR?
I would generally recommend the train over the bus in pretty much all cases. There's room on the train for luggage, and traffic can always be a question mark.
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Old Aug 12, 19, 3:24 pm
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Don't take the Bus

Originally Posted by M60_to_LGA View Post
I would generally recommend the train over the bus in pretty much all cases. There's room on the train for luggage, and traffic can always be a question mark.
Agreed. Please do not take the bus. The roadway outside the Lincoln Tunnel is under construction so there are almost always delays.
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Old Aug 12, 19, 3:35 pm
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Originally Posted by NYC2SGN View Post
Do you think leaving 2 hours before your flight using public transportation is sufficient?
Definitely not - as @M60_to_LGA says I would consider 3 hours the bare minimum.

At the United terminal (C) the TSA PreCheck line often looks very long but moves fast. I've never spent more than 15 minutes in that line. But I always allocate 30-45 minutes to clear security as EWR agents love making me wait 10-20 minutes after I walk through the metal detector so they can swab my phone.
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