For our cruise from Ft. Lauderdale I ended up booking a flight into Miami instead because I could use my frequent flier miles to MIA but not to FLL. I can't say that I like Miami's airport very much, our luggage took ages to get out and ours was the 1st bags out because we were in business class (yea frequent flier miles!) Then we had to walk from the terminal to the people mover that took us to the car rental agencies, that also seemed like it took a long time although I suppose less of a hassle than some airport that make you take a specific shuttle to an off airport site.
Last time we came to Fort Lauderdale for a cruise I noted that it wasn't too inconvenient to fly into Miami since they aren't that far apart but I really didn't enjoy the Miami airport experience. The luggage took a long time to come out, people were starting to go to the baggage desk and complain. The car rental desk wasn't hard to find but it was a fair distance from the baggage claim, at least there are no shuttles involved, rather you take a people mover train. And then, of course, we had to drive 45-50 minutes to get to our hotel in Fort Lauderdale. But we were able to use our frequent flyer miles and we upgraded to First Class so no worrying about luggage charges and our luggage came out first.
I have flown in and out of MIA several times and usually it is pleasant save one time thanks to a nightmare of a TSA agent. The airport itself is rather easy to navigate especially with the sky train that shuttles passengers to and from gates. There is plenty to keep you entertained while waiting for a flight; with an abundance of shopping and dining choicces.
Our last trip brought us from JFK and then onwards to PLS with virtually no hassles except for a delay in takeoff.
The Miami International Airport fast park:
is your cheapest alternative. It also provides shuttle service connecting you to all major flights and terminals.
The link I've provided gives you a coupon for $7.00/day.
Employees use this parking area.
To read more on the different parking areas near the airport:
The traffic to get to the airport is terrible. Last time, there was a traffic accident on the other side of the highway which had us in a long creeping backup of rubberneckers, but we got to the airport by 3:45, which is 25 minutes longer than it would take if the traffic was running smoothly.
If you do curbside check-in it costs $2.00 a bag. Last time, my daughter dropped me at the airport to curb check my luggage, she asked the skycap to get me a wheelchair, which he did. Be sure you have change to tip if you want to do this - I gave him $5.00 and he was going to keep it all. He took me to a kind of corral for wheelchair people and eventually a lady came to push me to security. Then they had a hard time finding a golf cart to take us to the gate (D45).
The airport is often a zoo which is why my husband won't fly anymore. In March 2008, we ended up in a six snake line (after asking several of the airline herders). By a six snake line, I meant that the line snaked back and forth six times the depth of the airport at that point. There was another bigger snake on the other side that was wrapped around ours.
In the line with us were MANY people of course, but also people with MANY MANY bags. The sign in line said "One bag under 50 lbs free" and that the maximum per person was two checked items and that bags over 50 lbs would be $50. Since then there has been an additional charge added for checking more than one bag. So all those people with multiple big heavy bags were holding up the line writing checks. There is also a severe restriction on what you can carry on with you.
The baggage carts are free in Europe, but here you pay for them. Be prepared to either pay or move your own luggage. We were in line for over an hour. From before 3:45 until almost 5 o'clock. Someone tried to jump the line saying that he had 7 minutes to make his flight, but his flight only left 20 minutes before ours, so that wasn't true. Eventually we got to the counter and our bags weighed 44 lbs and 34 lbs.
Then we had to take the bags to the processing line, where they scan the bags before they load them. The security line was out of the airport as well.
Coming back, we went through immigration fairly rapidly, and handed in the customs form, and claimed the bags. We were one of the first ones down to the baggage carousel and I was sitting and he was standing next to it. People kept trying to get their bags off of it, and not being able to lift them and being carried around towards us and crashing into him as they tried to get their bags.
If you are a frequent visitor to the USA or traveler from USA leaving the country often enough, it is worth considering the Global Entry programme of the United States Immgiration. Once you are approved your passport or Visa is stamped with an additional electronic signature and you swipe it at the machines a the entry.
Yesterday arriving into the USA.. I calculated that within 5 minutes of entering the Immigration Hall, I had cleared Immigration, which takes only about one minute and walked down and cleared customs, since there is a separate line for Global Entry holders. It is an excellent service. No paper to fill, no immigration officers to content and they know that you have been checked out already. no strict customs check. I use it even when I travel from Cuba to Miami directly and no questions.. the same procedure, since they already know on which flight you had arrived. When I put in my card, my flight automatically came up!
Over the years I have become very fond of MIA. especially with these new changes.. Yesterday I was at the Continental Couner saying hello to friends, they asked me, obviously you are going for your cuban coffee.. Yes, then another chirped in there is a Starbucks in terminal J.. I pretended to be furious.. and said jovially.. it is a crime to drink Starbucks here in Cuban Country when we have such good coffee.. sure enough I went to the Versailles counter and had a nice cortadito made by a woman who left Havana at age 7.. we chatted for a while in spanish, so for half the price you get coffee made with love and by people who know how to make coffee as they themselves drink it, rather than unemployed youth given a little training to sell mediocre coffee at twice the price..
to this day, I get a kick out of coming in and out of MIA.. and I enjoy the experience..
with the new terminal J it is even beginning to look modern... The corrupt government in Miami, sorry my own Cuban brothers, give the concessions to their friends and there is always a kick back I am sure, this is what i read in investigative journals about Miami Govt.. Yesterday as I was entering the security, a matron said to me that i must put my computer back into the bag, since that would make three carry ons.. how stupid can you get, since i had taken the computer out so that it would be easy for me at security.. I told her in spanish, this is worse than Cuba, and you are all worse than Fidel...
In Miami, one can always count on some experience.. i could say hello to my jamaican friends at Continental, chat with a ex habanera, shout at a ex venezuelan that Fidel is better...
The easiest way to get to anf from Miami airport is either by taxi or supershuttle... if you are traveling alone, then supershuttle is definitely worth it - but if you are in a group of two or more, then getting a taxi it's a cheaper and more comfortable option.
From the airport taxis charge you a flat rate, so to Coconut Grove it's $21.70, to thePort of Miami $24.00 and to Lincoln Road in South beach $32.00. Every taxi has the flat rate chart displayed on the window.
American Airlines is my choice of airlines and traveling to Miami from NYC is a quick 3.5 hours. With more than 15 flights from the NYC airports, flying to Miami is quite easy.
MIA is undergoing some massive construction and although it has been going on for well over a year, arriving in MIA can be a nightmare, especially if you are making a connection here.
If MIA is your first point of entry into the US for Europe, South America, etc., pray you've left enough time for that connection. The lines are huuuuuuuuge because most flights on AA make MIA the US point of entry. International flights from South and Central Amercia, Europe and the Caribbean islands are arrive here non-stop.
Like any international airport, MIA has many shops, restaurants and services to make your transit somewhat easy.
Check out MIA website for more information.
If you are going to the southern east coast of Florida (Miami, the Palm Beaches, Fort Lauderdale, et al.), especially if you plan to rent a car and/or visit more than one of the cities, towns, or beaches in the area, check air fares from your starting point to Miami (MIA), Palm Beach (PBI), and Fort Lauderdale (FLL), as well as the car rental rates at each of these airports before booking your seats and cars. Air fares and car rental rates and surcharges vary from day to day and air fares are not necessarily directly related to the distance flown. Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and Miami Beach are a very short drive from each other yet the fares from your home airport to each of these airports may vary drastically.
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