Growing up a native of the Philadelphia area, I often felt like my city was always being trumped by New York in seemingly every category. But now here's a NYT article that highlights an interesting reversal: air travelers from the NYC metro are actually going by land the extra distance to PHL to take advantage of the cheaper fares offered by Southwest, etc. Which raises an interesting but age-old travel question: What's more valuable to you? Time or money. Frankly, the thought of going all the way to Philly to get out of the Northeast seems like a bit much to me, unless I would couple it with a trip to family. But even then, the airport is on the opposite side of the city from where I'd be. Both PHL and JFK are so far away from the city center that you can spend a whole lot of time getting there to begin with. Newark and LaGuardia are marginally better, but not by much.
So here's a (very) rough estimate of the time and money I'd spend getting from my house to each of these four ports, considering the fact that I don't have a car:
To JFK: $7 and 1:30 hours via subway and AirTrain. OR $45+ via taxi in about an hour (depending on traffic).
To LGA: $2 and 1:10 hours via subway and bus. OR around $35 via taxi in about 45 minutes.
To EWR: about $8 and an hour via subway and train. (Not sure about taxi fare, but probably about 45 minutes.)
To PHL: about $28 and 3:15 hours via subway and train. (Taxi would be through the roof and still about 2:30 hours.)
At this point in my life, with less vacation time and the promise of more income down the road, I just don't see planning in another 2 hours into my vacation schedule just to save some $75. If I were retired, though, or not willing to spend as much on vacation, I can see I might have the leisure to go the Philly route. But still, wouldn't it feel like you were lugging your bags everywhere and traveling all day?