International transfer at Miami

Old Apr 17th, 2007, 10:16 AM
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International transfer at Miami

I recently asked how international-to-international transfers work at MIA.

No-one got it right - at least as it applies to OneWorld connections - but the signage seems to imply what I found yesterday is true always.

This is what currently happens:
- If the airline will check bags through, they transfer at MIA just the way they do in Europe or Asia. You dump the bags at Heathrow: next time you see them, they (and you) are in San Salvador or wherever.
- You go through US immigration, and then - with your handbaggage - through Customs
- The system then forces you out of the secure area, so you have to go back through security to get to your connection. You can avoid this if you've arrived on a domestic connection, but not if you've arrived from abroad.
- As AAFF reminded us all, the security queues at the different MIA concourses are of widely different lengths, but all the concourses interconnect once you're through security. Arriving at A (which has record-seeking queue lengths), it might not really save you time to walk to C, go through security there, then walk back to A. But you've stretched your legs, and conned yourself into believing you're in control. So you (well, I) feel better.
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Old Apr 17th, 2007, 02:33 PM
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Your right flanneruk. I wasn't thinking all the way through on that one. I do remember my bags being checked thru on overseas flights with a stopover in a country not the same as my origin or destination. I've never had that be the case in Miami though, as I'm a US resident.
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Old Apr 17th, 2007, 04:03 PM
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You don't have to claim your checked luggage, take it through customs, and then redeposit at the American Airlines (or whomever's) luggage transfer desk immediately after you exit customs?
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Old Apr 17th, 2007, 05:57 PM
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Not in this case where the traveler is going from say, Europe thru Miami then on to South America.

Yes if USA is your destination and/or connecting to a domestic flight to final destination.
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Old Apr 18th, 2007, 08:56 PM
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flanneruk,

Overall, how much time did you need to make the transfer? Was the process same for the return trip--do you have to go via immigration? (Ugh, I dread having to queue looong time at passport control flying back from Caribbean only to queue again for security).
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Old Apr 19th, 2007, 05:39 AM
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I'm still in Central America, so I can't yet comment on the eastbound connection.

The westbound connection took, about 2pm, 35 minutes from getting off the BA plane to wandering around the onward AA gate looking for somewhere to kill the next three hours.

By far the longest activity in all this was hanging around the landside AA checkin desk because AA - believe it or not - don't allow online checkin for international flights, or at any rate that's what the website and the AA people at Heathrow said. US immigration took, including queueing, 5 minutes (of which three were spent discussing with the immigration officer which of our mothers had gone dottier faster): TSA security, again including queueing and a spot of pleasant banter, took six.

If you're going back on BA, you won't have this problem, since they've joined the 20th century and have online checkin. So you'll have your BA boarding pass before you leave your West Indian hotel.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2007, 12:09 AM
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Well, the answer to W9's question is odder than anyone would have imagined.

Returning from Central America to Europe, the system - the charming AA lady at Nicamala Rico explained to me - is that you go through immigration at Miami, collect your bags, go through Customs, redeposit them after Customs, walk from the E concourse to the A concourse, recheckin, go through security and walk to the gate.

Which, on a brisk Saturday evening, took exactly one hour from the moment the plane landed to the moment I sat down by the departure gate and tried to check my email.

There are clearly separate rules for eastbound and westbound connections: all the Central American flights at the E concourse were being told to collect their baggage, while passengers on an arriving Swiss flight were being told to do exactly what I'd done on arriving from the UK at the A Concourse.

The logic of all this is beyond me. But Miami's small and not very busy, and the TSA staff at security are sensible and fast-working (think staff at a UK Mc Donalds). US customs and immigration are also extraordinarily jolly and polite (is it my increasing age, or embarrassment at the fingerprinting nonsense, that's made US passport officials so unfailingly friendly over the past two years?)

The only fly in the otherwise consistently benign ointment was AA personnel. Every single female AA employee, apart from the wonderful lady at checkin in Central America, was an obnoxious sourpuss who'd be instantly dismissed in a civilised country (I was actually refused a second glass of water on one flight).

Making BA staff look, by comparison, as if they'd all just graduated with honours from a Singapore Airlines customer service course is something I'd have thought impossible. AA managed this bizarre feat with flying colours.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2007, 02:06 AM
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Odd, I've always found that if I act civilized, I'm treated civilly. Try it sometime. I'm sure it will be a new experience for you.
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Old Apr 24th, 2007, 10:39 AM
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Your point being? I'm afraid I don't find your post civil - rather the opposite.
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