30
Dec
06

Bienvenido A Miami

Weboy here – As you can see, the lady just can’t take a vacation. 🙂

One thing Red asked me to do – and I am happy to take this up – is to warn you away from Miami International Airport. For such a major city, Miami’s airport is a surprisingly low-rent affair. And, more than most airports in the post 9/11 world, Miami has had to do a lot of catching up in terms of security and border patrol.

Keep in mind that MIA is the main embarkation point for much of Central and South America into the US, as well as the Caribbean. Much of this has to do with the dominance of American Airlines in the airport, and the large Hispanic population already there (I remember being surprised in Costa Rica to discover that the most comprehensive English-language paper in the region was the Miami Herald).

So Miami is just frustrating – poorly laid out, and with added security, luggage laden walks can stretch interminably. International Customs paperwork (Passport review) is handled on a third floor mezzanine above the airport – but Customs Baggage Check is in the basement. Thus people on my return flight from Curacao (which was hours late) who thought they could still make their connections nearly died when they realized all the procedural hurdles between them and their next flight. And, thanks to the reconfigured space, one had to return through the main security checkpoint to get back to the gates, creating additional delays as American tries to hold flights for connections.

Don’t get me wrong – I think Post 9/11 Security is crucial. And I love to fly – I am willing to accept the trade-offs needed for increased security at airports, and I think more travelers should get themselves better educated about what needs to happen at security checkpoints. But Miami is a mess. And there’s nothing reassuring or safe-making about their security process. And the lack of amenities (which Red helpfully pointed out, close at around 8pm when she was flying at midnight) is just mystifying – though it’s clear Miami was never designed to have service at the gate areas, but only in the main terminal. That’s changing. But all of it is a good indicator of two things: one is that for all it’s boasting about being the “American Riviera,” Miami thinks surprisingly small about its basic services; and the other is that Miami is a reminder of just how many problems remain on the Homeland Security front – in terms of airline security, immigration, and anti-terror efforts.

But I’d be happy if they just had a nice Chinese place near the gate. 🙂

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