Getting from New York City to Atlanta (or the other way around)

by Roger on October 23, 2009

by Roger | October 23rd, 2009  

airplane-landingAs Atlanta quickly becomes a major player in the American social and cultural map, more and more people from the Northeast are going there for both business and pleasure. You’ve got quite a few choices for getting between these cities, and figuring out which is the best for you can be time consuming. To try to make things easier, we’ll go over each method below so you can decide at a glance.

New York City to Atlanta

  • Distance between: 750 miles / 1207 km
  • Driving distance: 864 miles / 1390 km

Quick summary

Driving will take around 13 hours each way, so flying between these cities is your best bet if you can afford it and especially if you are on your own. If you can’t get a cheap nonstop flight then a quick layover might save you big money. The bus and train are both slow and neither is terribly cheap, so those might be best only for those without a car and who are afraid to fly.

Flights between New York and Atlanta

Since New York City has the busiest air space in the world, and Atlanta is one of the world’s busiest airports, you’d think there would be nonstop flights between the two leaving every minute of the day. Unfortunately that’s not the case, though there are plenty of nonstop flights if you can afford them.

AirTran Airlines and Delta Airlines both fly nonstop from the New York area into Atlanta, and if you are lucky one or both of them will be having a fare sale. If not, then US Air has flights that change in Charlotte, North Carolina that are often as low as $100 each way. The good news about these is that Charlotte is right on the way so the connection only adds about 90 minutes to the journey, and it can often save $100 each way.

Use airport code NYC for all NY-area airports at once, and code ATL for Atlanta’s huge airport.

Flight time: 2 hours 30 minutes (nonstop) and 4 hours stopping in Charlotte, NC
Typical price: $100 each way is about the lowest you’ll see, and not always on non-stops.

Trains between New York and Atlanta

The good news is that Amtrak has a train that goes directly between New York City and New Orleans, and Atlanta is right along the way. The bad news is that the standard fare for Atlanta is about the same as New Orleans, which is much farther, so it’s really no bargain and usually more expensive than flights. The train currently doing this route leaves NYC at around 2pm and arrives in Atlanta around 8am the next morning.

Journey time: 18 hours each way
Typical price: $122 each way

>>Amtrak site

Buses between New York and Atlanta

Recently there have been quite a few new bus companies popping up that offer very cheap fares around the New York City area, but unfortunately none of them go to Atlanta yet. You’ll have to take Greyhound, which is the national bus line and doesn’t have a great reputation, or find another method altogether. The bus is cheaper than the train or flights, but it’s slow and often attracts passengers who seem like they may be down on their luck, for lack of a better phrase.

Journey time: 21 hours and up, depending on the time you leave and route taken
Typical price: $88 each way if you buy online in advance, and up to $118 if you buy at the station.
>>Greyhound website

The GotoBus runs faster buses between the cities, since they have fewer stops along the way. They also have free Wi-Fi on most of their buses, but they are a bit more expensive on this route.

Journey time: 14 hours each way
Typical price: $105 each way
>>GotoBus site

Driving between New York and Atlanta

If you have access to a car then this might be your best method of all. Driving will be much faster than a train or bus, and of course it gives you total flexibility to stop anywhere you need to. The scenery along this route is pretty nice and there are even some oddball roadside attractions to distract you if you are into that sort of thing.

As mentioned on top, the driving distance is 864 miles if you go the most direct route, and that will take you around 13 hours if you don’t run into much traffic. You’ll be driving right through Washington DC, which is one of the worst US cities for traffic outside of Los Angeles, so try to time that part (about 5 hours south of NYC) for a non-rush hour if you can.

If you have at least 2 or more people going then this method might be the cheapest of all, even if you have to rent a car to pull it off.

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