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Joined: Apr 2000
Posts: 3,054
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I could not believe the chaos at the American Airlines check-in counters in Miami this past weekend!

Getting to the airport 3 hours early on Saturday, we found that the American check-in areas were mobbed. Most of the rest of the airline counters were quiet, but there were many hundreds, probably thousands, of passengers trying to figure out what to do to get checked in with AA.

There was no signage to help people sort out what was what, and lines were at best "fluid." After asking three or four different AA agents (who were overwhelmed but pleasant), we finally figured out that the best approach was to find an international check-in electronic kiosk that worked (some didn't). The kiosks were hidden in a mass of people milling around, so it took awhile to find them, figure out which ones were for international flights and which ones actually worked.

Then, it took a few minutes to figure out that once you checked in electronically, you waited in a crowd of people, many speaking languages other than English or Spanish, for American agents to print out your luggage tags and yell out your name, or at least your flight destination. This is in a crowd of dozens of people all milling about and shouting.

No, the agents who printed out the baggage tags didn't take your bags. You had to wait, in our case about 30 minutes, in another series of lines (I use the term loosely, as these lines appeared and disappeared randomly) to give a different agent the bags. Then, the bags were collected and packed up on a huge cart and wheeled somewhere, right through the middle of the terminal, I assume to a conveyer belt somewhere.

After that, you then had to go to another line to go through security. Happily, the security line was actually pretty short, in part because everybody was still waiting at various American Air counters trying to get checked in.

I've flown through Miami many times, but it's been several years since starting a trip at Miami. I would think that by starting your trip elsewhere you'd save some of the hassle of trying to check bags in Miami, (though not necessarily, given the procedures at MIA) but the Miami airport, and in particular the American section -- American dominates the airport, with its extensive service to Central and South America -- offer a truly chaotic, Third World experience.

I feel sorry for anyone who is not fluent in Spanish and/or English trying to negotiate this mess, or indeed for anyone who is a little shy about asking for help.

It's hard to believe that a huge international company like American couldn't do a better job at one of their main hubs.

I also imagine that this chaotic system for check-in and checking baggage means that the security system is potentially vulnerable. Hundreds of people were just walking back and forth, pushing and shoving, trying to figure out what to do, while huge piles of luggage were being moved right through the crowds by airline employees.

I've heard many people say, "I'll never fly through Miami again," but until this past weekend I didn't really know what they meant.

It certainly is a terrible introduction to the U.S. for international visitors flying through or from Miami.

True, it was Labor Day weekend, but I'm told American Air at Miami International is often like it was last weekend.

It was truly an incredible experience in inefficiency and incompetence, not so much by front-line American Air staff, who were trying their best, but by American Air management.

--Lan Sluder

Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 3,484
My friend always believed the story that money just fall from the sky in the US. So he eventually saved enough money to make the move up to New York and experience this wonderland and get right to work at collecting fallen money. His first stop was Miami and he ended up missing his connection and had to stay overnight. It was a rough day on him. Upon leaving the airport he noticed a crisp C-note floating around on the curb where the shuttles pick you up. Being tired and all, he said to himself, "I reeeally tiyad mon, tomorrow I wah staht wuk". He never found another C-note again!

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Joined: May 2000
Posts: 7,051
One thing I learned in life. NEVER, NEVER, EVER travel through Miami international airport on the Saturday.

Joined: Oct 2001
Posts: 4,672
Last year I flew in and out of Miami on my way to Panama. I flew back to Miami on the day they banned liquids. It was a mob scene, but not as problematic as Lan went through. I drank away my layover, so no problems. I even had Joe Montana and his family on my American flight back to SFO. LOL

Joined: May 2005
Posts: 3,955
I went through MIA for an international flight the Monday after 9/11. Dear God what a mess. I won't even begin to detail some of the crap I went through.

I will have a Belikin -- put it on klcman's tab.
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 993
No matter where I travel, if it goes through MIA I ain't going.I ran into the same thing Lan Did the weekend after this past Thanksgiving. Never Again!!!!
Luckily to get to Belize I can now fly direct from Charlotte.

Never Use money to measure wealth
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 5,563
The last (and I do mean the LAST) time I went through Miami I went totally ballistic. I can't remember exactly what the delay was because I was so outraged about the lack of security around the checked in luggage.
For some reason all the luggage was stacked in a corner, not coming down a conveyer belt. There was absolutely no security and people were just walking up and taking bags. When I found an agent and reported this I got a look like "who cares?"
I traveled with a lot of luggage, all my dive equipment plus underwater cameras, and it was very difficult for me to handle all this by myself. OHYEAH, there were no carts available! I was overjoyed when American started coming here through Dallas.

Some of these problems seem to belong to the employees of the terminal - not the airlines.

Take only pictures leave only bubbles
Joined: Oct 2001
Posts: 4,672
Scuba, I agree - probably employees at airport contribute to the mess in Miami. AA terminal in Dallas in fantastic. I thought Houston was worse than Miami when I had to go through that airport. Traffic on freeways and crazy drivers bother me much more than Miami Airport. I can suck it up, as long as I get to my destination safely.

Joined: Jan 2001
Posts: 2,133
I for one am glad that I'm only connecting through Miami in a couple of weeks on my way to Turks. On the way back, I'll go through customs at JFK. Laurie and I are connecting through ATL on our way to Dominican Republic. Miami, is so not on my list any more.

Gela's AC Motto: "All Roads Used to Lead to BC's - Now They Lead to Hurricane's!"
I reported once before that it had taken me 7 hours to clear incoming formalities at Miami when all I wanted to do was transfer to another flight out of the USA.

I imagine the worst deal would be to arrive in Miami on a BA flight. Combine the general chaos of MIA with the aggressiveness of the immigation officers there, the reputation of the baggage handlers there as being the most dishonest at any major airport anywhere in the world, and the confirmed record of BA in losing 40% of all baggage checked with them. A true nightmare.

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