Western Europe Summer 2011

Facts about Miami International Airport

All of the trips I’ve documented on my site have started with the same thing. A trip to the airport and a flight to a foreign country. Today marks the beginning of what I hope to be a 3 1/2 month trip to Europe, and today started the same way. I made it pretty clear how I feel about the “traveling” aspect of travel in a post at the beginning of my last trip. Today I’m not really going to talk about that per-say, but I am going to talk about a realization I’ve had, and how your interactions at the airport could potential determine your mood for the start of your trip, or maybe even your entire trip.

Tonight I am sitting in the Miami International Airport. MIA is the gateway to the U.S. for millions of people flying into the U.S. each year, and this, in my opinion, is a sad sad reality. In fact, if you are booking any flights to Miami, I’d suggest even trying to fly into a neighboring airport like Fort Lauderdale if your itinerary allows it. Why you might ask? Because Miami International Airport blows… Here are a few reasons why…


Seriously… Check the stats provided here of the worst delayed airports at the bottom right hand corner of the graphic. Miami stacks right up there with the best of them. Oh yea, and did I mention the flight I’m waiting for right now is already delayed!


This is probably the worst of the things on this list. There is no happy ending for these constant daily interactions, and the end result is usually not pretty. Foreign travelers that speak no English or poor English are treated poorly and, rightfully, they may begin to form bad opinions of the country they’ve just arrived in, the good ol’ U.S. of A.

3. The TSA exists

Ok, so this one is for a vast majority of airports in the country, but it still doesn’t change the fact that it creates problems. Add on top of this the fact that the TSA agents are not always the brightest or nicest people themselves, and the addition of point #2, TSA interactions for foreigners and locals alike can be especially stressful and unejoyable here in Miami. Tonight, as we patiently waiting in the security line, we were rudely greeted by an old grumpy TSA agent literally yelling at people for not having their passports open to their photos and their boarding passes out. Yes, I get it, his job isn’t fun, and he has to deal with this all day. But a combination of his bad mood, and a potential language barrier or misunderstanding, and all you end up with is bad combination, that once again may result in people getting the wrong idea.

4. Wifi

Again, this is a problem that many airports have, but couple this fact with point #1 and you end up with a bunch of pissed off travelers with nothing to do except spend $7.95 to sit online for a few hours and wait for their delayed flight. Yup, you guessed it, I’m one of those people…

5. The major issues aren’t going to go away

Point #2 and the combination of point #2 and #3 are, in my opinion, a large problem for U.S. tourism. Lets face it, we aren’t the most loved country in the world, and some of that dislike is rightfully earned. International visitors being greeted by underpaid and pissed off workers will almost never result in an enjoyable experience. I know not every person who walks through this airport has a horrible time, but I can almost guarantee none of them say they had a completely stress free experience, unless of course they’ve already popped those muscle relaxers for that lonnnnngggg flight. Lets just play through two scenarios here. Arrival to Miami starts with exiting into a terminal filled with fast food chains, some rude workers, Nancy Grace blaring on the T.V., and a dreaded walk to the even more dreaded line at U.S. Customs (and we all know how that goes…). Departing from Miami starts with checking in at a crowded desk and possibly encountering some rude service, then a trip to the TSA and the potential for ending up in Mr. ImaDick TSA agent’s line, and finally after all of that you arrive in your terminal with a 20% to 25% chance that your flight is delayed. Yea, the stats are seriously that high!

Look, I get it, this is just the way it is. And I know I’m picking on MIA tonight and making some stereotypes myself, but this just happens to be where I am, and, in my short travel career, this is easily my least favorite airport. We get a bad rap here in the U.S., and I make it my goal as a traveler to try and reverse some of the stereotypes (deserved or not) that surround us. The Miami International Airport isn’t helping cause, and so tonight, the Miami International Airport blows…

  1. lydia

    #6 Freaking cold!
    Ah, so not looking forward to hanging out there 3 times soon (Mia-San Pedro Sula-Miami-La Paz – Mia)

    1. Matt

      You know what is funny, it was insanely hot and muggy in so many parts of the airport last night… So for this lets say #6 – crappy thermostat!

      Have fun on your trip!

  2. Kelly

    No free wifi?? C’MON MIA get it together. I totally agree with you, completely. Miami airport is notoriously bad.

    1. Matt

      Yea if you are going to have flight delays for 20% or more of your flights, you should at least give out some free wifi!

  3. The Travel Chica

    I have had to spend so many hours in the Miami airport. The only thing that is good about it is that the terminals are massive for walking, so your leg muscles don’t atrophy during your 7 hour layover.

  4. Matt

    That is true. Good of you to look at the positives!

  5. Jeremy Branham

    I’ve never thought of those who don’t speak English and the problems they might have coming here. That is definitely an interesting perspective and one I’ve never considered. In a city like Miami, you would think there would be people working that are bilingual right? Surely there are enough of those in Miami that you could get to work there.

    As for free Wifi, I still consider it a luxury so I think it is awesome when I have it. Guess I am just so pessimistic that this stuff is a pleasant surprise rather than an expectation.

    1. Matt

      There were definitely plenty of bilingual people, but far from everyone there I’d say. Plus those that are bilingual normally speak English and Spanish and that still leaves out most of Europe and the rest of the world. As far as Wifi, yea, you are probably right on that one, but I feel like that is penny pinching a bit. If a tiny little family run cafe can have free wireless, and multimillion dollar airport can, IMO.

  6. Christy @ Technosyncratic

    When we were in Miami for a month (living in an RV), Kali had to fly to Austin for work so of course I dropped him off and picked him up. I had the worst experience there, and I didn’t even go inside! People screaming outside, folks swearing and hitting my car, the “traffic control” person not really controlling traffic – it was a madhouse. MIA is definitely on my “top worst airports” list.

  7. Lisa

    You’re right, MIA is a pain in the butt. I have been delayed there and I have been stranded there. It’s is just not a great place to spend alot of time. I too was peeved at the lack of free wifi. (though there are areas provided by various companies) set up with free wifi. but in many cases they arent by the gate you need, so that sucks!

    1. Matt

      I didn’t know there were ANY free areas, so that is a little bit better. Needless to say I didn’t find any of those…

  8. Lorna - the roamantics

    wow matt! have never flown into miami, and now will try to avoid it if at all possible. who needs delays, with no wifi to kill time, and crapping vibes to boot. usually try to focus on positives, but no thanks.

    1. Matt

      Heh, there aren’t enough positives to focus on except that cheaper international flights normally go through there… That is about it as far as I’m concerned!

  9. adventureswithben

    Free Wifi is what will do it for me. Both Seattle and Orlando offer Free Wifi. LAX is right up there with Miami.

    1. Matt

      Maybe I’m being bias but Orlando is one of my favorite airports of the handful of international ones that I’ve been to.

  10. Vin

    I agree. No free wifi, minimal food options (either fast food, a few sit downs, & some Bacardi co-branded bars) restaurants. They’ve certainly made improvements & was voted most improved in 2009 I think but they have a long way to go. The lack of people movers in exchange for that ridiculous train thing I’m guessing has something to do with cronyism/shady contracts. You have a choice of a long but walkable walk or a ridiculously short train ride. 🙂 Not enough restaurants outside security to sit w friends & loved ones. Even Rome & Naples have free wifi. Tampa, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale too. I will say I like MIA better than Ft Lauderdale bc it’s closer for me & there’s more food options (FLL always seems to close food stations early) & more people watching. Lastly great comment on first experiences for foreign travelers. I always used to feel bad for foreigners flying into JFK. Bc they only speak English & everyone is yelling at thm to go here or there all while these people are jet lagged. 😉 I’m in MIA as we speak waiting for a delayed flight to Paris then Rome to Naples (bc MIA flight late, I’m missing my connection & now have 2 more legs to my final dest). Haha Thank goodness for 3G! Cant complain Im lucky to be able to travel & still enjoy it but indeed MIA still blows. Thanks for letting me vent. Safe travels everyone.

    1. Matt

      Ah man, I feel your pain on that flight delay… That really sucks… I don’t have much experience at FLL I just know that I don’t like MIA…

  11. Henry Williams

    The miami airport is horrible i try to avoid make any trips down there at all costs its like a fish market for travel

    1. Matt

      Haha, great analogy!!

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