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  • Writer's pictureAlbert C

Planning the Perfect Trip from London to New York

It’s a trip from one great world city to another. Nearly 1.1 million people hopped across the Atlantic from the U.K. to New York City in 2013, making the U.K. the single biggest source of visitors to NYC. And most of those flew out of London.

Passports with boarding passes atop a map

As one of the world’s great tourist and business destinations, there’s plenty to do in New York. And New Yorkers are an opinionated bunch, so there’s plenty of advice about how to do it. Here are our tips for getting the most out of travel from London to New York.

Flying Out

London to New York is the fifth-busiest international air route in the world, so airline competition is fierce. If you’re price-conscious, you should be able to find a deal if you look ahead.

Almost all direct flights to New York City depart from Heathrow, although the terminal changes depending on your airline. Norwegian Airlines also flies quite cheaply to JFK out of Gatwick. That helps if you live closer to Gatwick, or will go (literally) out of your way for a good deal.

If price isn’t an issue—or you’re really looking to splash out—British Airways has an all-business class flight that departs to JFK from London City airport. Aside from the convenience of flying out of London City, BA have created an extraordinary passenger experience, from a massive baggage allowance to a lavish preflight meal. Best of all, you skip passport control at JFK by stopping for passport preclearance at Shannon in Ireland. (Given passport control wait times at JFK, on average that will save you nearly 26 minutes.)

International flights arriving in NYC head into either JFK (in Queens) or Newark (in New Jersey). (We wrote not long ago about which airport is better to fly into.)

When to Go

There’s no bad time to visit New York. Tourists certainly don’t think so—hotel occupancy rates are very high throughout the year.

July and (especially) August are the height of the tourist season, and while New York in the summer is exciting, it is busy. The weather can get very hot and uncomfortably humid, with temperatures regularly over 30⁰C (86⁰F)—which is why native New Yorkers often get out of town in summer if they can.

Slightly off-season months are great times to visit New York—late April and early May are lovely, despite some changeable weather. The autumn is a great time too, although October can be very busy, with low occupancy rates in Manhattan hotels.

Things are quietest in NYC in January and February, and that’s mostly because it’s really, really cold. In January the average low is well below freezing, and last year it snowed nearly 17 inches in Central Park. It’s a great time to see the city without being crushed by hordes of tourists, but you need to come prepared, even if you’re used to cold and fickle British weather.

Don’t Forget Your Visa Waiver!

To visit the United States as a British citizen, you must either get a visa, or participate in the visa waiver program.

To get a visa waiver, apply through ESTA—the Electronic System for Travel Authorization. Applications can be completed quickly and easily online, and getting approval is straightforward in most cases.

When you successfully complete the application, you’ll get an ESTA number, which you’ll need to board the plane—so don’t lose it!

A visa waiver is good for a visit of up to 90 days, but if you plan to stay in the U.S. for longer, you’ll most likely need to apply for a visa. However, ESTA authorizations are generally valid for two years, so if you’re planning to come back within that time, you may not need to re-apply.

When you do arrive and make it through passport control, you’ll need a way to get to where you’re staying. No car service knows New York better, and we’d love for you to reserve a ride with us.

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