I flew two international sectors today from Brazil to Miami to Toronto My first flight left almost three hours late getting in 91 minutes before my second flight was due to leave. My long layover has vanished.
Even though I was transiting from Brazil to Toronto, the US requires transit passengers to clear immigration and customs and then come through security again. I have blogged about not checking luggage in. Today’s experience vindicated my decision!
- 1859h: Plane touches down at Miami International airport (right)
- 1907h: Plane reaches gate- I am off quickly with no shoving
- 1911h: Four minutes run/walk from gate to people mover to immigration hall. I arrive at the stop as it pulls in. The MIA people mover runs at 3 to 15 minute intervals. The guy next to me told me that he waited for 20 minutes once
- 1916h: Passport control hall is handling multiple arriving flights. I join shortest line
- 1921h: People behind me are also on an 830pm fight and are also nervous
- 1923h: Realise reason for my short line is that I have chosen slowest immigration agent. Switch lines to one moving twice the speed
- 1927: I ask the three people in front of me in this new line, who’re from Spain if they have a connecting flight (which they don’t). They allow me to go in front of them so I’m 2nd in line. The woman in front of me makes it clear she won’t support queue jumping
- 1928h: the agent in the line I was is really slow. He still has 3 more people to process before the spot I was in
- The young woman in front of me goes forward. Oh no! She has a complicated immigration issue. Letters are produced from an envelope, visas are scrutinised and the clock keeps ticking
- 1933h: Agent finally deals with the woman after flirting with her too
- 1934: As I am in transit, the agent immediately does my fingerprints and photograph but cannot tell me the fastest way to the new gate. He points to the exit.
- 1935: exit is blocked by an Italian group that are choosing this area to gather together. Oblivious to the stressed looks of other passengers (including mine) they saunter chatting away down the narrow corridor to baggage collection and customs.
- 1938: the customs hall is bedlam. Indeed multiple flights have arrived simultaneously and there are lines everywhere cutting into and over each other to collect bags and get through customs. Bags are piling up. Its madness with no order in its chaos. Tempers are becoming frayed and Happy vacation moods evaporating everywhere. I follow a determined couple who push through the crowds
- 1949h: I am thankful that I have no baggage to check as I cruise past a 120 strong person line waiting to check in bags for onward flights.
I firmly believe that the US customs department should hand over custom s control to Disney. They would make waiting fun and work to develop innovative queuing systems. Cartoon characters could entertain the people whilst giving friendly and fun warnings and messages about smuggling and smoking!
- 1954h: In the disaster that is Miami Airport, clear signage for the escalators up to departures was invisible. I found a lift (elevator) with only an elderly man waiting. When the lift arrived, however, two families and a nun also arrived and piled in!
- I was at the back of the lift and had to wait for people to get off it and into another corridor full of slow people
- The line for security screening was very long so I asked the guard if there was a priority line. She directed me to go on a 2 minut e walk which got me to a gate with almost no one there
- 1956h: Of the eight people in line, five were a group traveling together. Having ascertained their flight was at 2145h (945pm), they gave permission to go in front of them
- 1959h:The agent checking my passport in the way out sad”how did you like the USA Mr Cowling” I saudí “I was only here for five minutes!”
- I zapped through security: belt off, shoes off, computer out, toiletries out. The woman -in front of me said “you myst know what you are doing to go through security so quickly. – 90 flghts a year madam!
- 2001H Another People mover ride. This involves a 33 second wait and a 45 second ride. I am ten gates away. Of course it is at the far end of the concourse!
- 2004: As I pass the Shops, I wondered if i had time to buy a drink. Guess not, In retrospect I wish I had got a drink because I felt very thirsty on the pla
- 2006: I arrive at Gate 21 just as they announce boarding, l Am the fifth on the plane and wheel my own luggage on board
- 1832h Doors close
- 2039h we are delayed
- 2051h take off
I made the flight. If i had had to collect and then check in a bag, I would not have made it.