Miami International Airport

Hands down, the worst place I’ve had to re-enter the U.S. and go through immigration.

It’s been completely re-done and it still simply doesn’t work well.  Thankfully the old follow certain colored dots on the ground based on what category of immigration you are have been removed at least, but the process and wait times are still way too l…o…n…g.

I arrived at 7PM on a Saturday night and it still took 90 minutes just to get through immigration.  That doesn’t include the 20 minutes to simply get there from the gate (hint:  it involves a lot of walking as well as a train ride) and the 30 minutes to retrieve my bag, walk it 100 feet just so I could give it back to the airline to check back in domestically, then wait 30 minutes to go back through the TSA security.  Yikes… what a nightmare.

The amazing thing to me is that I had just come from a third-world country and the wait there was 10 minutes and they were extremely gracious .  It really is embarrassing that we can’t have better in an airport as heavily traveled as Miami.  Almost all Caribbean, Central, and South American flights route through there and yet the immigration wait time & process seems to get worse each time I have to use this airport.

Some questions to think about while you wait a very long time:

Why are there three wait lines?  Two are for visitors and one is for U.S. citizens.  Don’t you think the largest number of people waiting in an immigration line in a U.S. airport might possibly be U.S. citizens?  Miami hasn’t figured that math out yet.

Why do they label the visitors lines “visitors & residents”  they mean to say visitors and visitors with resident alien status / documentation, not U.S. citizens.  I’ve seen may people wait a long time only to find out they are in the wrong line.

A tip for when you get to the baggage pick up area:
Look for the luggage carousel your flight is listed for, but don’t look on the carousel first.  Just look at the pile of bags near your carousel.  You’ve undoubtedly waited so long in immigration that your bags have been removed from the carousel for you.

Once you find your bag, you have to navigate your way to the center of the baggage area so you can go to the next room to then drop it off for a domestic flight.  To get to this next room, you have to transverse a long bending corridor with many poles in it (think having to avoid them while dragging you bags) and then into what looks like a exit.  Don’t go out the exit if you need to re-check your bags to fly domestically… you need to look and go left into another room, not out of the doors!  Going out of the doors you see when you exit the corridor will take you to the parking lot.  Trust me… this will be important when you’re there and late for your connection.

All that being said, if you are returning from Central and South America… save yourself!  Go through Dallas.  They know how to handle immigration in Dallas.  Big, organized, and well staffed.  Dallas makes Miami look like an embarrassment.

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