Miami International Airport (MIA): the Basics

Miami Air Traffic Control Tower
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Miami International Airport (MIA) is one of the busiest airports in the world and serves as a huge hub for international flights between the United States and Latin America as well as the Caribbean. More than 45 million passengers passed through MIA just last year (2018), making it the 40th busiest airport in the world. In terms of international cargo, it’s the busiest in the U.S.

MIA is shaped like a horseshoe with north, central, and south terminal areas. More than 1,000 flights leave daily to over 160 destinations, both domestic and international. One exciting and very new development coming out of MIA is facial recognition. Lufthansa is the first airline to replace boarding passes for cameras on flights from Miami to Munich, Germany. This innovative step takes less than two seconds and has a 99 percent matching rate, so it’s virtually error-free. Hopefully, other airlines will catch on soon for an even speedier and hassle-free boarding process all around.

Rainbow pathway at MIA
Luis Albejante / Getty Images

Flight Information

You can obtain real-time flight information for any of the airlines serving MIA before leaving home. With the city's unpredictable weather, it's always a good idea to look up your flight before you head to the airport. A little rain may not change anything, but if there are thunderstorms (or rain/snowstorms in the direction you’re headed), there may also be flight delays.

Airport Parking and Driving Directions

Once you've checked on your flight, you'll probably want to obtain driving directions to the airport, and when you arrive, you'll need to find a place to park. Long-term parking, up to 60 days, is available on the airport grounds in the Flamingo Garage (serves Central Terminals F and G and South Terminals H and J) and Dolphin Garage (serves North Terminals D and E).

The maximum rate of $17 per day applies after two hours and 40 minutes. If you're picking someone up, you can park for $2 per 20 minutes (prices as of 2018). There are off-site parking services, as well, such as Park 'N Fly.

Airlines and Terminal Information

There are three levels in the terminals at Miami International Airport. For departures, check-in and ticketing are on Level 2. For arrivals and baggage claim, go to Level 1. There are moving walkways on Level 3 and above the North Terminal Concourse D, the Skytrain can take you from one end of the mile-long concourse to the other, with stations at four locations.

A complete list of airlines and terminals is available on the official website. If you're flying on a major airline, here's where to head:

  • Air Canada, Terminal J
  • Air France, Terminal H
  • American Airlines, Terminals D and E (ticket counter is on D)
  • British Airways, Terminal E (ticket counter is on D)
  • Delta, Terminal H
  • KLM, Terminal H
  • United, Terminal G
  • El AL, Terminal J

Airport Services

  • Pets: If you are traveling with a pet, you can find animal relief areas with waste stations on the arrival level of Concourses D, E, and J. This is extremely helpful, especially when you have a connection and may not have time to exit the airport.
  • Dining: You'll find everything from burgers to ceviche and empanadas at the Miami airport. There are over 60 restaurants here, which means sit-down dinners are an option, but so are bars for brews or cocktails and quick grab-and-go foods. There is plenty of Cuban food here (Bongo’s, La Carreta, Cafe Versailles, Estefan Kitchen Express) for those craving one last Miami comfort meal. For coffee, there’s Juan Valdez Cafe, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, illy, and McDonald’s. Some of our favorite spots for eating and drinking include Beaudevin, a wine bar with some healthy and tasty food options, The Counter for a juicy burger, Spring Chicken for some Southern flavor that includes fried chicken sandwiches and tomato salad with pork cracklings and mozzarella and, last but not least, the dependable and delicious Sushi Maki.
  • Shopping: At MIA, you can shop for necessities as well as luxury items from stores like Coach, TUMI, Michael Kors, Montblanc, Calvin Klein, and POLO Ralph Lauren. Cuban Crafters sells boutique cigars, humidors, and accessories at the airport. Miami-inspired gifts can be purchased at the Miami Heat Store, the Miami Marlins Store, or Miami Gifts to Go. Snag a last-minute pair of sunglasses at Sunglass Hut or some reading material at Books & Books. If you’d rather get pampered than spend your leisure time at the airport shopping, there’s Xpress Spa, perfect for mani/pedis and a relaxing massage.
  • WiFi: Miami International Airport offers complimentary WiFi Internet access. It is available throughout the indoor areas of the airport and super helpful if you have emails to answer or presentations to work on while waiting for your flight to board.

Car Rental

There are a number of car rental agencies at the Rental Car Center. You can connect to the MIA Rental Car Center using the MIA Mover (train), located on the third level of the airport between the Dolphin and Flamingo garages. Use the third level moving walkways to access the MIA Mover station.

Book a rental ahead of time to secure the best deal. You can call around or find prices online through Advantage Rent a Car, Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, Thrifty, and more.

Mass Transit

Miami International airport is served by Miami's mass transportation system. Metrobus, Metrorail, and Tri-Rail airport connections are located in the Miami Central Station, the city's transportation hub.

Ground Transportation

If you're looking for a taxi to take you to your hotel or another location in Miami, taxi stands are located outside the baggage claim level of Miami International Airport. There are also shuttle services and ride-hailing services. The ride-hailing service app will tell you where the designated pick-up zone is so you can request your ride. And of course, there’s always Uber and Lyft. Opt for a shared ride and save money. When booking the ride within either app, you will get instructions on where to go (what floor, what door, etc.) to meet your driver as he/she arrives.

The best things about Uber and Lyft are that you can often charge your phone in the car, there is no cash exchange ever, and many drivers will even offer you water, snacks, or gum for the ride.

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