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Transit time for Miami airport including Immigration

Transit time for Miami airport including Immigration

Old Apr 25th, 2012, 10:29 AM
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Transit time for Miami airport 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??

Thanks very much.
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Old Apr 25th, 2012, 10:32 AM
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I'd chose 3 hours. I don't mind waiting some extra time.
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Old Apr 25th, 2012, 11:05 AM
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I think 1.3 hours is VERY risky. If your plane is even 30 minutes late you will be landing after you should have checked in for the next flight.

Not Miami - but have landed at JFK from many interntonal flights - and from wheels down to getting luggage (including deplaning, transiting, going through Immigration and waiting for luggage had taken from 50 minutes to more than 1.5 hours.
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Old Apr 25th, 2012, 12:21 PM
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If your plane is even 30 minutes late you will be landing after you should have checked in for the next flight.

I believe the OP will already be checked all the way through. The OP will have to go through security but no need to check in again.

I have made many international connecting flights with less than that, but one has to realize that Customs don't favor anybody and there is nothing you can do about it. I missed couple of flights because Customs wanted a "secondary" look. I always advise occasional fliers to add an extra hour or so when connecting from international to domestic. On the other hand the airline will accommodate you one way or another although with diminished service may have difficulty accommodating the person(s) on the next flight, so you have to be prepared.
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Old Apr 25th, 2012, 12:28 PM
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Here's a copy of the response I gave OP to the same question on the "Airline" forum:

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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Old Apr 25th, 2012, 03:57 PM
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3 hour.

I made a similar connection about a year ago Buenos Aires - MIA - Boston (on American Airlines). At the time there was major construction going on in that part of MIA - and while it did not seem to delay the immigration/customs/baggage procedure, it certainly made it a bit confusing. At the time there was not any formal looking place to redeposit/recheck luggage - a lot of hanging plastic sheeting, plastic temporary roping - such that one "rechecked" their luggage by putting it in a huge pile of luggage going to, hopefully, the final destination airport.

But the answer to these questions of "is there enough time to make the connection" - is keyed to if the flight is on time. And that is really unpredictable so I like to add a little extra time, even if it means hanging around the airport a while.
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Old Apr 25th, 2012, 05:20 PM
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Thanks all very much! I sort of knew the answer and you have confirmed it. We've booked the flights with the 3 hours transit time. Appreciate all the insight very much.
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