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Transit time in Miami including Immigration??


Apr 25th, 2012, 10:31 AM
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Transit time in Miami including Immigration??

My husband and I will returning from San Jose, Costa Rica connecting through Miami for a flight to Boston. American Airlines for all flights. I have read that immigration and customs can take quite a bit of time (we are both US citizens if that makes any difference) and then collecting luggage to be re-checked to Boston.

We have a choice of a 1 hour 30 minute layover or almost 3 hours. Can we do the 1 1/2 hours or should we play it safe and go for the 3??
MaggieOB is offline  
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Apr 25th, 2012, 12:23 PM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 5,251
honestly, this type of question is impossible to answer without adding caveats since there is always a chance yu could encounter an unforeseen problem

In most instances a 1 1/2 hour connection time is doable but it doesn't allow you much time for error.

Many people on this forum despise making International connections at MIA but I seem to be in the minority. I've connected there numerous times on international flights and have rarely had a problem or taken more than an hour from the time I've touched down to the time I'm at the departure gate for the connecting flight but then I rarely travel with checked luggage (almost exclusive do carry-on only).

What you have to understand is MIA is a very busy airport and how long it takes to clear Immigration & Customs depends on the day of week, time of day and how many other international flights are arriving at the same time as yours.

The walk from your arrival gate to immigration could take anywhere from 3 to 15 minutes depending on your arrival gate. Clearing immigration for US Citizens is usually quick but you should figure on at least another 15 to 30 minutes. Now your bags will probably be arriving on the carousel about the same time you finish clearing immigration but if immigration is fast you might have to wait 10 or 15 minute for the bags. Add another 5 to 10 minutes to ext the Customs Hall (assuming you are not singled out for a more thorough inspection. Rechecking your bags is quick and easy - should take more than 3 to 5 minutes. You'll need another 15 to 20 minutes to clear the TSA Security checkpoint and then time to walk to your departure gate.

So best case scenario is you'll be are your departure gate about an hour after you land -worst case you'll miss your plane. If you have a choice, take the 3 hour layover. If you do that you'll insure that the stars will align and you'll get through Immigration/Customs/TSA in record time and be sitting at the departure gate with 60 minutes to spare. If you take the shorter connection time Murphy's Law will come into play - your inbound flight will be delayed and arrive at the gate furthest from the immigration control point, seven jumbo jets from foreign countries will have arrived in the moments just prior to your flight, the Immigration computers will "crash", customs will single your luggage out for a complete inspection, the TSA Security checkpoint will be a "zoo" and your departure gate connecting flight will be at the far end of the "other" terminal.

Take the 3 hour layover - you'll be glad you did!
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Apr 25th, 2012, 05:23 PM
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Thanks very much---and also for your response to my post on the USA board (one covers all their possibilities!!) We've booked the flight with the 3 hour layover and are quite comfortable it's the right decision. Thanks!!
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Apr 27th, 2012, 02:51 PM
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Good, you may need 3 hrs - the lines are long, especially for US citizens.

Costa Rica is wonderful, have fun!
Dayenu is online now  
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