Miami confusion?

Old Jul 12, 15, 12:28 pm
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Miami confusion?

Good evening. I wonder if someone could help me out with what may (or may not) be something to get concerned about!

I'm flying to Puerto Rico via Miami later this month. All flights booked via BA on BA flight numbers (tho domestic is American Airlines). I have 1:50 transfer time at Miami which I thought would be ok until I saw a thread that hinted that bags had to be reclaimed cleared through customs and then checked back in on arrival at Miami.

This stressed me somewhat so I called BA and asked - to be told that they had no idea whether I could check my bags through to PR and I should ring the airport! The telephone operative did however confirm several times that I had enough time to connect. This has slightly concerned me now as my experience of immigration into the states has never been a quick process in other cities and so I can see the connection disappearing quite rapidly. Am I worrying unnecessarily?
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Old Jul 12, 15, 12:41 pm
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Originally Posted by Misha the Penguin View Post
Am I worrying unnecessarily?
No. Don't think so... Not just because of the bags.
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Old Jul 12, 15, 12:49 pm
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There is a through bag checking process in MIA, but unfortunately it doesn't apply to PR as it is in the same customs area as the the rest of the USA. Now 1h 50 isn't a brilliant amount of time, it is do-able now that the kiosks are taking a lot of the workload off the staff, but I guess it depends on whether you get an on time arrival into MIA. If it is one ticket, then I wouldn't worry, you will get rebooked if you don't make it, but I think you have a greater than 80% of getting through as booked.

You could I guess rebook to a later service, but the chances are that you'll just find yourself hanging around MIA even longer. I would be comfortable with that connection. The other option is to go hand baggage only, it would save about 20 minutes or less.

Missing planes isn't worth worrying about, there's always another one, and in the case of San Juan there are lots and lots of services.
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Old Jul 12, 15, 12:56 pm
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I've done this connection once, with the same period of time. You need to look out for the orange "flight connections" fast track envelopes and listen out for the announcements. Our experience was that, due to the relatively tight connection, MIA staff had printed our boarding passes in advance and on collection them, they put us through a dedicated priority immigration line. We were told to keep the bright orange envelope in which the boarding passes lived visible at all times.

After emerging from the obligatory bag collect/recheck area the reason for the visibility became clear. A woman driving a golf buggy spotted us, pulled a 180 degree turn pretty much and told us in no uncertain terms to get on board. We did so, she checked our boarding passes and we hurtled to our destination gate at breakneck speed (with generous use of the horn). We arrived at our gate so early we had time to wander to the lounge, have a drink, freshen up and still get back to the gate before boarding had commenced.
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Old Jul 12, 15, 1:44 pm
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As far I know there is no custom and immigration from Puerto Rico to the US mainland. You should be arriving as a domestic. Which means checking through luggage etc. should be no problem.
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Old Jul 12, 15, 1:53 pm
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Originally Posted by corporate-wage-slave View Post
Now 1h 50 isn't a brilliant amount of time, it is do-able now that the kiosks are taking a lot of the workload off the staff, but I guess it depends on whether you get an on time arrival into MIA. If it is one ticket, then I wouldn't worry, you will get rebooked if you don't make it, but I think you have a greater than 80% of getting through as booked.
FWIW my experience is the immigration lines aren't a problem - it's the baggage claim and customs that are the major bottleneck in MIA in the late afternoons.

Having said that, I'd agree with c-w-s that 1:50 is probably just about OK but you're unlikely to be connecting to the last flight of the day so even if you mis-connect AA will probably be able to get you to SJU the same day.
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Old Jul 12, 15, 2:12 pm
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Originally Posted by Gshumway View Post
As far I know there is no custom and immigration from Puerto Rico to the US mainland. You should be arriving as a domestic. Which means checking through luggage etc. should be no problem.
?? Read the OP's post. She is flying to PR via MIA. She will need to clear immigration and customs at MIA, as per the advice given by others above.
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Old Jul 12, 15, 2:55 pm
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Fab - thanks all for that, that has reassured me somewhat! It is all booked through on one ticket so that shouldn't cause any problems. I guess it's going to be a pretty hectic start to what should be a more relaxing break!! Knowing my luck I'll probably have more hassle on the flight from Newcastle!
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Old Jul 12, 15, 3:05 pm
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My one any only time connecting through MIA, I was off the plane, through immigration and collected my bags and got through customs in around 25 minutes, which I was impressed it. However, I was lucky that my gate was where it was, as there seemed to be two queues for immigration, and my side had a very short queue. When you enter, make sure you check all the available queues to see if you can find a short one.

I think there are quite a few MIA-PR flights, so even if you miss your booked one, you shouldn't have a long wait to get the next one.
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Old Jul 12, 15, 4:18 pm
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You will have to clear immigration, reclaim your bags and go through customs.

Then you have to re check your bag but this does not involve going to the main check in hall (provided your bags are checked right through). After clearing customs there is a signposted area for passengers connecting onwards from MIA where you go and put your case down the baggage chute and then proceed through to departures.

So you don't have to actually "re-check" your bag you basically take it through customs and then throw it bag onto the baggage belt.

I found the process very simple when I connected at MIA, I made sure I was one of the first off the aircraft though.

Last edited by Down Low; Jul 12, 15 at 4:40 pm
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Old Jul 12, 15, 7:21 pm
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Originally Posted by Ldnn1 View Post
?? Read the OP's post. She is flying to PR via MIA. She will need to clear immigration and customs at MIA, as per the advice given by others above.
I was reading it the other around .. from PR to Miami to UK.
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Old Jul 13, 15, 1:36 pm
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Thanks all - all very reassuring.

No. Don't think so... Not just because of the bags.
Now all it seems I need to be concerned about is this...!
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Old Jul 13, 15, 1:53 pm
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Originally Posted by Misha the Penguin View Post
Now all it seems I need to be concerned about is this...!
My experiences are from a while (3yrs) back... Took me at least 2 hrs to pass immigration. Looked at the current wait times and seems worst scenario it's around 90 min.
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Old Jul 13, 15, 2:01 pm
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OP will clear both immigration and Customs at MIA outbound to SJU. However, his bags will be checked to SJU. He will merely need to leave them at post-Customs bag drop and will not need to recheck. Should not add more than 2-3 mins. to the total processing time.
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Old Aug 15, 15, 1:02 pm
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Well as an update - all went pretty smoothly at Miami. In fact I had the best experience ever at a US airport in clearing immigration - the automatic machines are fast. Given we were travelling with friends who were in World Traveller so we waited to go through with them, we had most of the 747 in front plus several other flights and we must have been through immigration in under 20 minutes.

The major issue in Miami was a reversal of everything I have experienced at US airports and that was security. In a word - shambles! Queued for ages, no clear organization and a mess once we got to the machines. We made the connecting flight with about 10 mins to spare.

My experience on the return flight at San Juan was also a security nightmare and don't get me started on the trashing of a suitcase on the return trip by the TSA in Miami! So clearly had nothing to worry about but the advice was excellent and very helpful so Thanks!
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