Ugh. Terrible traffic on BQE. Definitely missing my flight to San Diego.
— John Carney (@carney) February 13, 2013
There's nothing I hate more than being stuck in traffic on the way to the airport, losing minutes and the probability of catching my flight.
— felix salmon (@felixsalmon) January 31, 2013
There's an epidemic of smart people messing up their travel plans. (To be fair, Felix was not in NYC during that tweet, but he did ask "Is there a good guide for how long it takes to drive from Manhattan to JFK at various times of day/week?" the other day.) Yes, New York City has some airport-getting-to issues. But they are known issues! You do not take a car to the airport on weekdays. Period. The End. No more conversation. The BQE and the LIE and the Belt and the Van Wyck are too unpredictable, and even when they are running well, they are still pretty terrible!
We have talked about this before, particularly in how to get to JFK from Brooklyn. (The appropriate answer: the LIRR from Atlantic Terminal. Unless you're in Greenpoint. In which case, you take the E train. The A train is okay but only if you're right on top of it. You're better off taking a car service from most anywhere in Brooklyn to Atlantic Terminal and hopping the train.)
And from almost anywhere in Manhattan, the appropriate way to get to JFK is to take the LIRR at Penn Station to Jamaica.
The only time on a weekday that you should take a car to JFK is between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.. On weekends, you can take a car prior to 10 a.m. And never take the Belt, even though that seems like it would be faster. It never is!
Other than that? Take a car to the LIRR, and then enjoy the nice train ride. Also don't listen to the "only fly out of LaGuardia" apologists, that airport is terrible.