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Is FLL the worst arrival port in the USA?

Is FLL the worst arrival port in the USA?

Old Aug 25, 19, 10:05 am
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Is FLL the worst arrival port in the USA?

I flew in to FLL from BCN on DY last week. Scheduled arrival was 8:00PM on a Tuesday evening. We were about 10 minutes early. As we pulled up to the gate, I noticed a couple of air stair trucks and buses. I guess it is normal for this flight to have a bus gate. After the seat belt sign went off, we all prepared to depart - I was in 4C, so close to the forward door. After standing for about 10 minutes with the stairs in place, the captain announced that customs was late arriving, so they could not open the doors. I thought this was very strange, considering the large number of international flights at FLL. In another 10 minutes, the announcement changed - now the captain said that immigration had a large back up, so we would stay on board for some more time. That certainly didn't gel with the first announcement.

At 8:35, the doors opened, and we deplaned onto the bus. The driver was determined to turn the bus into a can of sardines, so we had to wait another ten minutes as they squeezed everyone inside. We have Mobile Passport, which is supported at FLL, so we figured we would get through quickly, and given the delay time, our luggage would be waiting. After a long walk, we came to the kiosk area, but there were no signs about Mobile Passport. We asked the moat dragon, and he waved us into a line behind the kiosks. That turned out to be the same line where everyone went to after getting their APC form from the kiosk. Advantage for Mobile Passport lost. Curiously, during our walk, there were multiple signs promoting the speed of Mobile Passport.

The line moved agonizingly slow, and when we finally reached the end, we were directed into the "standard" line, despite seeing a booth for Mobile Passports. I asked again, and that dragon insisted that we had to be in the same line. They were waving GE pax to the front. This line also moved at a snail's pace. There was one immigration officer, and another office wearing a "Police" uniform - helping out? Finally, a very efficient immigration office showed up, and things moved faster. We finally got to the front, and quickly cleared in. Almost no one was using Mobile Passport. Considering that we have paid for the service, we should have been able to go to the front just like the GE pax. They didn't even let crew skip the queue.

A word about the facility - GROSS! The walls looked like a temporary trailer, and the carpet looked like it had been around since 1979. It was dirty, the signage was poor, and it very congested. Several people in the line that were flying on Spirit had already missed connections.

We emerged into the baggage reclaim area, which was also congested and dirty. Our flight was not listed on the board, so we guessed our bags were among the thousand or so that had already been taken off of the belt; they weren't there. We saw a couple of employees hanging out on mobile carts in the back, and they told us to go to the front belt, which was still turning. Our bags were there.

At this time, in every other arrivals facility, we are used to simply exiting through the green lane. But not in FLL - once more we had to queue up, and wait for a customs officer to "inspect" our documents. For Mobile Passport, we had to scan both of the codes before we were allowed to exit. By now, we had been on the ground for two hours and ten minutes. Just ahead of us was an off-duty DY flight attendant. She told us that some nights, it can take three hours to clear.

We had to go to the rental car center, and when we got the the queue, it was clear that the bus was completely full. Staff said that she had called another bus, but it was stuck in traffic - at 10:30 on a Tuesday night. Clearly, this airport is not designed to handle the amount of flights that are using it.

We found FLL to be a terrible experience as an international arrival port. It's a sad excuse for an airport, and it's a shame that many international visitors see this upon entry. FLL claims that there will be a new facility open in 2020, but I will be avoiding it until then. The employees seemed to be on angry power trips, and the facility was disgusting.
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Old Aug 26, 19, 8:14 am
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I for one LOVE traveling to FLL. I only go there domestically, so I have not experienced the customs part you are talking about. The agents have always been pleasant and helpful. The car rental center is right there on site. It is thousands upon thousands of times better than the airport 25 miles south...
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Old Aug 26, 19, 9:22 am
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Originally Posted by Taco Tuesday View Post
I for one LOVE traveling to FLL. I only go there domestically, so I have not experienced the customs part you are talking about. The agents have always been pleasant and helpful. The car rental center is right there on site. It is thousands upon thousands of times better than the airport 25 miles south...
This. I've only entered the U.S. at FLL once and it was not crowded.

MIA seems like a perpetual [redacted by moderator]. That's my least-favorite port of entry. Seriously, MIA makes LAX look like a beacon of modern efficiency.

Last edited by NewbieRunner; Sep 8, 19 at 1:59 am Reason: FT rule 16
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Old Aug 27, 19, 4:10 am
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Hmmm. In the past 4 years, my arrival experiences at MIA have been great. The last time I experienced any wait time there was in 2014.
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Old Aug 27, 19, 4:31 am
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Originally Posted by pinniped View Post
This. I've only entered the U.S. at FLL once and it was not crowded.

MIA seems like a perpetual ...... That's my least-favorite port of entry. Seriously, MIA makes LAX look like a beacon of modern efficiency.
FLL can be very crowded if you hit when the cruise ships are dumping passengers. I fly FLL and MIA a lot and they can easily both be shlt shows. FLL edges out as far as things to do if you are killing time near the airport for any reason.
You can feed the monkeys over by off site parking. Or grab a bite on las olas blvd. it’s a short hop to the beach.
And if English is your only language, MIA can be a difficult area to navigate.
Just my opine.

Last edited by NewbieRunner; Sep 8, 19 at 2:01 am Reason: Conform to moderator edit in quote
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