Immigration at Miami

Old Jan 27, 04, 7:37 am
  #1  
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Immigration at Miami

Marginally OT, but does anyone have recent experience of the current immigration queues / delays at MIA ?

If I am arriving on BA in Y with a UK passport (with Gold card for what that is worth) is there any way to shorten the process ? Does it help if one has flown in on J ?

For the return, if I can check in at F (with Gold card) is it as painless as it should normally be elsewhere, or will I still be subjected to queues, hassle etc.
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Old Jan 27, 04, 7:51 am
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In November, we cleared immigration and customs in about 3 minutes, arriving in WT+ on the 207. BA arrives in Terminal A which has few (if any) AA international arrivals along with a handful of the South/Central American carriers. This seems to mean easy-peasy clearance.

Flying back, there is a First/Club line (the 2 seem to get mixed up). We had a little wait, but nothing too traumatic. Check in staff were efficient and friendly -way ahead of their AA colleagues. Security was also quite swift. The lounge does fill up - and the J side seems quieter than the F side too!
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Old Jan 27, 04, 8:17 am
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Since January 2004, it depends very much how you enter the US:

-with a visa
or
-with a visa waiver

Visa holders have to make fingerprinting and a photo. On visa waiver NOT.
How long does it take? Sorry, I don't know.
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Old Jan 27, 04, 10:30 am
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Don't think I have ever flown to MIA on BA, so can't help there. I have flown out though.

There is an F checkin so no queue there. There is no priority line at security though, so give some extra time to stand in line with everyone else.
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Old Jan 27, 04, 10:50 am
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Does anyone have regular experience of arriving on the early flight (BA207) as compared to the late flight (BA209)? I am always dithering between the two and would switch my normal choice of BA209 to the early flight if immigration is reliably less hassle at that time.

Premium class check-in is normally about as hassle-free as elsewhere, although if you leave it until closer to departure the economy queues have often vanished anyway. My personal experience is that there are very long queues for security, which are managed to a degree, but the number of screening points operating seems to result in broadly acceptable waiting times (15-20 minutes).
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Old Jan 27, 04, 11:01 am
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I have used 207 a few times in the last year and INS had been [email protected] I have been in-line ofr over an hour each time. I have always been one of the first of the plane being in F and walked like a fast moving fat bloke and still had to wait behind hundreds of unwashed people.
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Old Jan 27, 04, 11:40 am
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I flew on the BA209 in early November and had a two minute wait at immigration. Thirty seconds later through. Then I ended up waiting half an hour for my bags to come off! Customs was straight through too. I was upstairs so I suppose I got there before most of the rest had gotten off. Don't know what it would be like if you were the last row of economy though.
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Old Jan 27, 04, 11:50 am
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I don't understand why so many airports don't have fast tack security. Anybody know why? Or is it a form of redistribution?
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Old Jan 27, 04, 12:04 pm
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MIA is a nightmare...end of story.

Arrivals between 3pm and 5pm are a zoo, one hour would be good news (and yes, that includes Terminal A arrivals as well). If you can get a flight that lands later than that, do it.

As for departures, almost all major US airports have fast track security for elite frequent flyers, but not Miami (sigh).

One positive thing about BA is that their check in area is at concourse A, which although it is getting busier, is still not as congested as the older part of the airport.

Note that if you are transitting through MIA to another international flight, each immigration hall has two or three lines on the far left marked with red ITI (in transit international) signs, those lines tend to move faster, as they don't grill you so much if they can see from your tickets that you are just transitting the US.

Oh for the good old days of the INSPASS for the frequent traveller, 15 seconds and a palmprint and you were through...quicker even than Pucci smiling her way through the crew line !
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Old Jan 27, 04, 1:33 pm
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by oyster:
I don't understand why so many airports don't have fast tack security. Anybody know why? Or is it a form of redistribution?</font>
There seems to be some link with the level of unionisation at the airport. I don't think this affects the TSA or security screeners themselves, but could have something to do with other organizational things that have to happen to get Fast Track happening.

Ever noticed at MIA arrivals, they have barricades just outside baggage reclaim to stop you using your trolley to get bags any further? Causes a horrible logjam at arrivals, and of course makes work for the crew of unionised redcaps just the other side. Probably originally justified as saving money on trolleys or other such garbage, but basically a union makework.

There is almost always a direct inversely-proportional relationship between customer service and unionization levels in airports...
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Old Jan 27, 04, 1:42 pm
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by USAFAN:
Visa holders have to make fingerprinting and a photo. On visa waiver NOT.
How long does it take? Sorry, I don't know.
</font>
Fingerprinting/piccies added about 15" or so when I went through a couple of weeks ago. I have a Visa so every time, no big deal and easy. I could see my process go green in the corner of the screen in about 10" after he hit the GO button.

Cheers
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Old Jan 28, 04, 2:46 am
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Try using the words 'bomb' and 'rucksack' and see how quickly you jump the queue
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