taxi at the airportThe holidays are fast approaching, which means that many of us are beginning to consider our travel arrangements. And if you’re leaving town this winter, chances are pretty good that you’ll be taking a flight.

New York City’s three airports: Newark Liberty International (close enough that it counts), LaGuardia, and John F. Kennedy International make up America’s most sophisticated network of airports. Combined, they account for more air passengers, and more take-offs, than any other urban center in the US.

But there’s one thing that New York’s airports haven’t quite figured out yet: parking.

Why We Take Cabs To The Airport

At JFK, you’ll pay $18 every day to park in a long-term lot. At LaGuardia, it’s $39 a day for the first two, and then $18 for each additional day.

Those numbers probably seem high, but compared to the price of a taxi they might be the most affordable option, depending on how long you stay. Because the taxi industry relies heavily on airport travel, and JFK sees the most traffic, the Taxi & Limousine Commission has instituted a flat rate for rides from JFK to Manhattan. Plus, you have to pay tolls, a city tax and tip (optional but suggested).

A cab ride to and from JFK will cost you around $142.50, enough to pay for 8 days in the long-term lot. Rides to and from LaGuardia come out much cheaper, around $51.50, which would only cover 1.3 days at their current parking rate.

To arrive at our numbers, we assumed the average taxi fare of $13.40 where a flat rate didn’t apply, and the average tip of 18%. Also, the Port Authority is raising bridge tolls to $9.75 as of December 7th, 2014. During peak hours, it’ll become $11.75.

When we take cabs to the airport, it’s more for convenience than any other reason. The real question then is how much time will you save by taking a taxi, and how much is that time worth to you?

How That Affects The Taxi Industry

All this travel is a boon to New York City’s taxi industry. Behind Manhattan, airports account for more cab pickups than any other location, at 3.5%. That might not sound like a lot, but remember: we take more than 485,000 taxi rides every day. In real numbers, 3.5% is equal to 6,195,875 trips that begin at one of New York’s three airports. Considering that the average taxi fare is $13.40, those airport rides gross medallion owners and drivers over $83 million annually, enough to pay off 95 taxi medallions at their current market value.

Here are some more astounding statistics:

  • On peak days, specifically, Sunday between 6 p.m. and midnight, more than 1,250 passengers are picked up at an airport every hour.
  • 26% of all the passengers arriving or departing from LaGuardia take a cab, and 10% of the passengers going to JFK do.

How Do The Holidays Play In?

These numbers don’t rise much during the holidays. Taxi travel to the airports peaks in October every year, but drops significantly in November and December. June and July, months we usually associate with summer vacations, actually see the lowest amount of taxi trips to the airports.

Along with adverse weather conditions, the holidays do have one significant effect on air travel: rampant inefficiency. During the winter holidays:

  • Newark Liberty sees 28.62%,
  • LaGuardia sees 25.31% and
  • JFK sees 21.56% of its flights delayed.

Those numbers makes New York’s major airports 3 of the top 5 most congested travel hubs in America.