No, EWR isn’t really being excluded from ‘NYC’ airfare searches

There’s been a lot of buzz recently about whether or not Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) is still considered a New York City airport.

While there has been a change, it’s a very limited and minor one, and it won’t affect the way you search for flights.

Want more airline-specific news? Sign up for TPG’s free biweekly Aviation newsletter.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

First, some background. The International Air Transport Association administers the three-letter airport and city codes that are universally used in airline reservation systems and throughout the broader travel industry. This group, of which airlines around the globe are members, assigns the airport codes and determines which airports belong to which city codes.

For example, Tokyo’s city code, TYO, includes both Narita International Airport (NRT) and Haneda Airport (HND). Typing TYO into an airline’s website or online travel agency will provide you with flights that arrive and/or depart from both of those airports.

The confusion arose with a tweet on Sept. 7. The NYC code for New York City has long included the three major airports: LaGuardia Airport (LGA), John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and EWR.

The tweet claimed that the NYC city code “will not include EWR” — a change that will take effect on Oct. 3. A number of influential aviation Twitter accounts picked up this news.

So, what happened?

IATA did indeed make a change, but only when it comes to fares — not when it comes to searching flight availability, a spokesperson for the group told TPG.

First look: The hotly anticipated one-of-a-kind United Club at Newark

The new change will allow airlines to market fares for EWR separately from JFK and LGA. Previously, fares for the three NYC-coded airports were combined, but now, fares for EWR can be unbundled from the NYC code. IATA notes that all participating airlines approved the change.

For travelers, the change should be minimal because there will be no difference in how availability is displayed on airline websites or online travel agencies. For travel agents, it will not affect global distribution systems such as Sabre or Amadeus.

“Any GDS availability request for NYC will continue to show EWR,” the spokesperson told TPG in an email.

So, if you’re planning a trip to or from the New York area in the future, rest assured that you’ll continue to be able to search for availability at all three airports by using the NYC city code.