Time to clear customs/immigration in MIA

Old Jan 19th, 2004, 04:47 PM
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Time to clear customs/immigration in MIA

I will be traveling Quito-Miami-Toronto on a Saturday in February. AA promises a meal on the Quito-Miami flight but not on the flight to Toronto. With 96 minutes in the schedule to make the conection I am thinking that I might be hungry if I don't pack some food with me. Does anybody have any idea how long it usually takes to clear US customs & immigration in Miami? I am a Canadian citizen.
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Old Jan 20th, 2004, 03:25 AM
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On average, it's taken me and my non-citizen travel companion about 20-30 minutes to clear both immigration and customs. However, there are times it's taken longer due to baggage delays.

I honestly think that barring no delays, you should have time to grab a bite near your gate, as there are small food kiosks all over the airport.

Good luck
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Old Jan 20th, 2004, 08:28 PM
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If you pack food, eat it before you get off the plane in Miami. If one of the agriculture inspection dogs sniffs something out, the dog handler will write on your customs form, marking you as a screw up who needs to have his bag searched by hand.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2004, 01:31 PM
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Thanks Statia, that's good to know. Good advice mrwunfl. I had packaged food like granola bars in mind.
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Old Jan 26th, 2004, 02:34 PM
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Gavin,

I too am a Canadian and have been flying through Miami quite a bit recently from South America. The best time I have made is about 30 minutes (flying United). Worst time about 1.5 hours (Flying American).

The reason that I specify the airlines is that they dumped me off at different Immigration gates. I have heard of others in the two hour window also.

What I would suggest is that you sit as close to the front of the plane as possible and rush through to immigration as quickly as possible.

People may give you weird looks as you struggle up the steps with your suitcase instead of using the slow escalator, but it pays off in spades at the end when you save a tonne of time.

Good luck.
- JJ
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Old Feb 22nd, 2004, 02:50 PM
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I did the trip yesterday and just barely made the conection. The immigration area was completely packed. We were moved around a couple of times in attempts get us through more quickly but it still took more than an hour to clear immigration. Add in the time it took to walk through the airport and clear security again and we were just about the last to board the Toronto flight. It was a great blessing that the baggage was checked through and did not have to be claimed and rechecked. Fortunately I had a supply of granola bars to stave off starvation.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2004, 10:59 AM
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Gavin,
Were you on the earlier or later Quito-Miami flight? Did you notice if the lines for U.S. citizens moved any quicker?
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Old Feb 23rd, 2004, 04:07 PM
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Patty,

I was on the early Quito-Miami flight. The lines for US citizens were on the far right side of the immigration area although I heard someone who seemed to be in the know say that US citizens can use any line. The whole room was packed with people when we arrived, I have never seen anything like it before. I suspect the US lines moved better but was not really paying attention. One of us was timing how long individuals were taking with the agent and came up with numbers like 2 or 3 minutes each. I was only about 30 seconds when my turn came. By that time the room had cleared out a fair bit so it is a matter of how many flights arrive at once.
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Old Feb 25th, 2004, 02:38 PM
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If you qualify, apply for a PortPass from US Immigration. You can completely bypass the lines and spend about 20 seconds at a computerized kiosk.

Unfortunately, you then get to wait another half an hour at baggage claim in Miami.
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Old Feb 25th, 2004, 03:03 PM
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I heard that the INSPASS kiosks at MIA have been turned off and it's very hit or miss at other airports. Have you had a different experience recently at MIA?
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Old Feb 25th, 2004, 03:56 PM
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I've never done the pass through MIA, but have had no problems through JFK nor LAX over the past 6 months.
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Old Mar 12th, 2004, 12:12 PM
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Gavin,
One more question... how early did you have to arrive at the Quito airport to check in? Thanks.
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Old Mar 12th, 2004, 05:10 PM
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Patty,

We arrived about 2.5 hours before flight time. It took a long time to get checked in with AA. In total it was about 1.5 hours from arrival at the airport to being in the departure lounge. Security and immigration procedures were fairly painless. Some people are selected for an inspection of checked bags just before check in. This did not seem to too big a deal for the selectees. Keep your copy of the paperwork that you will fill out on arrival at Quito. Ecuadorian immigration will want it when you leave. Don't enter the AA departure lounge until you are finished with shopping and using the washroom because once in they don't want you leaving (except on the plane). One of my traveling companions purchased roses for his wife. He came in for special attention from both US and Canadian authorities but his wife did get the roses.

One odd (too me) thing on arrival in Quito was that most incoming luggage is x-rayed. I was told this is to look for Ecuadorians trying to evade duties. They are also keen on loooking to make sure that the checked baggage reciepts match the bags bing take from the airport. Enjoy Ecuador, we did.
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Old Mar 13th, 2004, 01:22 PM
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Thanks Gavin. So I guess we should plan on getting there at 4:30am!

Where in Ecuador did you travel to if you don't mind me asking? We have one night in Quito on arrival and will head out to the Galapagos the following morning. Coming back from the Galapagos, we have 4 nights in and around the Quito area (planning to spend one of those nights at Bellavista). This will be our first time in Ecuador so any advice, tips or suggestions are welcome
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Old Mar 14th, 2004, 10:29 AM
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Patty, I will post my reply on the Latin America board as it will not belong here.
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