Why I Avoid Fort Lauderdale Airport (Vs. Miami)

Filed Under: Advice

I live in Miami, and one question I’m constantly asked is why I don’t fly out of Fort Lauderdale more, given that JetBlue flies out of there, and I quite like JetBlue.

For example, reader Andrew asked the following on a post yesterday:

Ben, I don’t know why you restrict yourself to MIA that way. FLL is just a few miles to the north, and is a major focus for JetBlue, one of your favorite airlines. Given the presence of another major airport just a few miles away, why do you feel so tied to American and MIA?

It’s a totally fair question, and one I wanted to address in a post.

Why I far prefer flying out of Miami over Fort Lauderdale

I have a very strong preference for flying out of Miami (MIA) rather than Fort Lauderdale (FLL). It’s not that I’m unwilling to fly to or from Fort Lauderdale, but it takes a lot for me to choose to fly out of FLL over MIA.

I’d consider it if JetBlue had a great Mint fare and I needed to go to Los Angeles or San Francisco, or if the fare difference were really significant (like $200+). But short of that, I just choose Miami every time.

A good JetBlue Mint fare would get me out to FLL

Why?

Miami is so much more convenient

I live literally 10 minutes from MIA without traffic (and I usually fly early in the morning, when there’s no traffic). Never in my life before have I lived less than 30 minutes from an airport, and I can’t even begin to say how convenient that is. It’s one part of my travel journey that causes zero stress.

I can leave for the airport an hour before departure, and still get to my gate before boarding starts. If I’m picking up Ford from the airport, I usually leave home a few minutes after he touches down to pick him up, and then it’s timed perfectly.

Living so close to a major global airport truly is one of my favorite things about living in Miami.

I also wouldn’t say Fort Lauderdale is just a “few miles to the north.” From my place it’s an extra 20 miles. Just to give a sense of travel time:

  • Yesterday at 4PM it would have taken 18 minutes to MIA and 53 minutes to FLL
  • This morning at 5AM it would have taken nine minutes to MIA and 32 minutes to FLL

That might not sound like that huge of a difference, but when you like to take morning flights, it does make a difference.

Driving to Fort Lauderdale scares the heck out of me

One thing I don’t love about Miami (and Fort Lauderdale, and the entire area) is the drivers. This region has the worst drivers of anywhere in the world I’ve ever been.

Here’s the thing — I can totally adapt to just about any driving style, but the problem with South Florida is the variety of drivers. It’s like combining the driving style of The Villages with the driving style of Bogota. It’s just awful.

In particular, I-95 between Miami and Fort Lauderdale has to be one of the least pleasant stretches of highway out there. The drivers are awful, there’s not proper separation between lanes, and more often than not I feel grateful to get off the highway alive.

My mom had an accident on this stretch a couple of years ago, and it’s rare I don’t see a major accident or a major appliance falling out of someone’s pick-up truck on this stretch of highway.

Honestly, driving to Fort Lauderdale gives me anxiety, and I’m so much more at ease if I can avoid it.

Lastly, there’s no practical public transportation alternative. I adore the Brightline, but that would require first getting to the Brightline station in Miami, and then getting from the Brightline station in Fort Lauderdale to the airport. The entire process probably triples travel time.

I wish Brightline had a direct connection to FLL

Miami has solid lounge options, Fort Lauderdale doesn’t

While I usually don’t show up at Miami early, the reality is that I have all kinds of solid lounge options I have access to, from American Admirals Clubs, to the Amex Centurion Lounge, to three Priority Pass restaurants.

The Admirals Club Miami — quiet in the mornings, with good coffee

I don’t usually use them, because I can plan to arrive close to departure. If I flew out of Fort Lauderdale I’d have to leave more of a buffer, and flying JetBlue there aren’t any lounges I could use.

That’s not a deal breaker, or anything, but it’s another reason to prefer Miami, especially when there’s a delay.

American in Miami isn’t worth avoiding (right now)

Obviously I’m disappointed by American’s lack of service culture, but I’ve consistently acknowledged that I don’t think American Airlines is worth avoiding out of Miami at the moment. The summer of 2019 was beyond horrible for them operationally, but:

  • At the moment American is as operationally reliable as they’ve ever been
  • American has high-speed Wi-Fi on all of their mainline domestic aircraft
  • American usually operates wide body planes with flat beds from Miami to Dallas, Los Angeles, and New York
  • One way or another I can usually find a way to snag a first class seat, either by paying a reasonable fare, using a confirmed upgrade, or by complimentary upgrade

American operates many domestic routes out of Miami with wide bodies

While I enjoy JetBlue if I’m flying in economy, there is a big difference between a first class seat and an economy seat when it comes to being productive on a longer flight, in my opinion.

Sure, American’s onboard catering isn’t good and service leaves a lot to be desired, but practically speaking I’m happy enough flying an airline that’s operationally reliable, has an extensive route network, and has high speed Wi-Fi.

I’m super happy with a first class seat and high speed Wi-Fi

A reader’s perspective on MIA vs. FLL

In response to Andrew’s question, reader Jonathan left the following comment, which I think is worth sharing:

To everyone who does not live in SoFla.. FLL is NOT near to MIA …it is a complete pain to get there… there is no Metrorail to get to it. You have to drive a good minutes in the express lanes praying that you do not hit traffic or likely an accident, which will then throw off even any sense of getting there on time. Then you have to park which is pricey.. the airport is older with 4 terminals that are only connected on the outside, exception is 3 and 4. It is a complete pain to get to. Then of course customs is the worse where I, a US citizen, have had to wait 3 hours in line before.

MIA is quick, fast, more modern, great shopping, and customs is very fast. In fact I got back this morning on Avianca from Colombia, took 10 minutes to go through customs.. and 20 minutes or so, I am home in Brickell …this is why if we live in the 305, why we choose MIA over FLL even though it may be cheaper… time is also money…

Bottom line

It’s not that I’m unwilling to fly out of Fort Lauderdale, but to me there’s something so nice about being just 10 minutes from a major global airport. Not only does it take more time to get there (and is more expensive if using rideshare), but I-95 also scares the hell out of me.

Add in that there are no lounges and that American is actually okay out of Miami at the moment, and I have a strong preference for MIA over FLL.

To other 305ers, where do you stand on this? Under what circumstances do you choose FLL over MIA?

Comments
  1. I lived downtown Miami for years and took 100+ flights a year and I flew out of FLL about 80% of the time.

    It’s just a much better running airport and parking, if you use the right terminal, is a breeze. The operations at Miami are a mess and the condition of some of the terminals is abysmal. I can say with certainty it is like no other American airport in this regard.

    However I cannot blame Ben with regard to I-95, tho I assume you pay the nominal fee to use the express lanes. I have a rule on 95 to never even touch my phone. Forget about looking at it. You have to be on guard ALL of the time.

  2. Hi Lucky,you are being a little dramatic but I can understand your reluctance to head up to FLL from downtown Miami.For us who live near FLL,it is a much better option than MIA.Jetblue has a great network up here and AA is truly a terrible airline for those who have gotten use to Jetblue’s
    seating ,IFE etc.I am sometimes forced to fly AA every once in awhile and the difference between the two carriers is night and day.

  3. “Lastly, there’s no public transportation alternative. I adore the Brightline, but that would require first getting to the Brightline station in Miami, and then getting from the Brightline station in Fort Lauderdale to the airport. The entire process probably triples travel time.”

    There is a public transit option. I don’t drive in South Florida pretty much ever. I usually take the Tri-Rail from FLL to Miami, then connect via Metrorail and/or Metromover or Trolley. Total cost is very low. The TriRail train is definitely not posh but it has more bike slots than I’ve seen on any train.

    It’s adorable, two floors, air-con, WiFi. Reminds of a Florida flavoured version of Dutch trains to AMS tbh. You can pay using the Miami EASY Pay app, pay with cash at the station, use the EASY Pay metrocard, buy single/return tickets, etc.

    Granted, it is slow, has infrequent departures, stations are outdoors (in Florida style), and yes, it does take more time. There is a free shuttle right in front of FLL baggage claim that goes to the station.

    A LOT of people do not take this route because of the extra time. I wouldn’t suggest it for people in a hurry. But it’s there and it is useful if you budget for the time.

    But please don’t say that there are no public transit options. Because there are.

  4. I fly to Miami all the time and I avoid FLL like the Corona Virus. MIA has way more options across the board.

  5. I grew up in FLL and every time I go home and drive on 95, my response is “I can never move back here!” Drivers are down right scary there. 95, especially between FLL and MIA is like bumper cars.

  6. Rental car return is another consideration. FLL sucks. Packed onto busses that then get stuck in a horrible jam to go a few feet. I’ll take the MIAmover any day.

  7. I live in Aventura about 25 minutes north of you, and logistically – the opposite for me is true. I agree with your perception of I-95, the lanes are not well designed, and the ongoing night construction doesn’t appear to have improved that. I prefer MIA as well however, getting to FLL is a breeze for me, usually in under 15 minutes. I also fly Delta 90% of the time as they operate several non-stops to NYC from all 3 south FL airports.

  8. YASSSSSSS to this post. I live in the DD — maybe we’re neighbors? And MIA is infinitely better these days than FLL. 10-15 years ago, I would have said the opposite (and I was living in/grew up in Surfside, so I’ve been here forever), but now FLL is way too overcrowded and under-invested. PBI today is what FLL used to be 10 years ago — easy parking, easy security, charming almost. Now FLL is a mess in multiple ways. I hate PreCheck at FLL since it is much more of a leisure airport than MIA. Everyone brings their kids to PreCheck line and it goes ridiculously slow. I’ve flown out of FLL 3x in the past year and every single time the PreCheck line goes slower than the regular security line. And the drive up 95 is scary.

  9. Couldn’t agree more. Some cities does have a clear winner.

    Next up, another clear winner.
    EWR sucks and why I choose JFK.

  10. I live in equal distance between Fort Lauderdale and Miami international airport. My experience getting to Fort Lauderdale international airport is considerably better any I’ve ever had in Miami. It’s probably about half the time to get through lines in Fort Lauderdale and much easier to get directly to your terminal. In response to the comment about it being difficult to get to, I guess if you live in the Florida keys maybe Fort Lauderdale would be hard to get to but literally no matter where you live in Miami getting to Fort Lauderdale it’s quite simple with every major expressway connecting directly into it. You can’t take the turnpike to MIA.

    I also find that baggage comes out quicker and security lines are also much faster than Miami. Some of the terminals I flew out of this past year in Miami we’re really in need of an upgrade wild Fort Lauderdale has done a good job of keeping up their terminals.

    Customs in Fort Lauderdale seems to be much quicker and more efficient and friendlier than Miami. if you are looking to rent a car then Fort Lauderdale has the most convenient terminal for doing so.

    The final reason for me is price. Generally nearly every flight coming out of Fort Lauderdale is cheaper then Miami and for a person that flies a lot I would much rather make my dollar go further.

    Overall, for a person like me who doesn’t go to lounges or wants to spend a lot of time the airport but really just wants to get in and out quickly safely and in a nice environment, Fort Lauderdale is hands-down the best choice.

  11. I prefer Miami because of all of the international connections, Priority Pass lounges and AA lounges. And I do fly to Brazil and Chile and cannot do that from FLL. MIA is a better option for me and it’s nice that they have a subway to the airport.

  12. I only visit Florida, I don’t live there. But I travel to the state for 25 years and I prefer flying into FLL. It’s so much better organised and it’s a joy to use the rental car center versus the pain MIA is. The only reason I prefer to fly out of MIA are the Airline lounges. But fortunately there is no fee to rent cars at FLL and drop them off at MIA.

    And I’m defenitly not scared to drive on I-95. If I would be scared, then I wouldn’t use I-95 in NJ but the Interstate in FL doesn’t scare me at all.

  13. It all depends where you live in the 305. If you live in Aventura or North Miami then FLL is likely closer. PBI is my preferred airport in SOFLO due to no lines and nice and easy, it’s expensive and routes are limited. I use to drive down to MIA as so much better options. But with an hour drive. FLL is easier. Terminal 1 and 4 are modern now and 2 is undergoing renovation. FLL has precheck in every terminal along with Clear in 1,2 and 3 as well. Parking is cheap and easy and close to terminal. Usually I find lines minimal to non-existent. Flights are ontime and it’s a good airport.

    Take that to Miami. You have terminal D which is massive. Clear is in E with no precheck. The precheck line the have in Miami is really long. The airport is modern in D and J but feels Steele. If you arrive in E or F internationally, you might as well have arrived somewhere else given how long the walk is to immigration. EFG are old and awful. H and J is okay but feels sterile. Immigration is quick but bags take forever in Miami no matter where you come from. Never seen an airport so long. Parking is awful. Long walks. The train to rental cars and the metro rail is awful. Overall it’s not a good airport. I would much rather take one or the dozens of delta flights from PBI or FLL to Atlanta and connect then fly out of Miami.

  14. Driving around any big city in the US is a pain. Coupling it with tourists/snowbirds/seniors just makes it worse. I don’t know anything about driving around Miami but I live in Scottsdale and it is an adventure, especially this time of the year (snowbirds + tons of tourists for spring training).

    I’ve been lucky where I usually live within 30 minutes of an airport. If I had to drive 1 hr+ to the airport it would be painful, especially early mornings or in rush hour.

  15. Though I grew up in Miami, I now live in Fort Lauderdale, about 10 minutes from FLL. However, since I got status on AA, I’ve realized that MIA isn’t as bad as everyone down here makes it seem. Getting down there is a bit of a pain, but once I’m there I don’t find the experience to be any worse. And I get to take advantage of what AA is offering me.

  16. Drivers in South Florida are indeed the worst. You get all the bad drivers with bad habits for driving many years bad cars in horrible traffic and roads in major Latin American cities and then you bring them to Miami with good roads and good cars. They all believe they became F1 pilots from night to day. Oh, and add to that the “politeness” of cutting in front of other cars, honking horns and giving the middle finger all the time. I avoid driving in Miami like the plague.

  17. I learned to drive in Miami. Specifically on US1 and I95. I would like to apologize to everyone in the rest of the country for my driving habits. Apparently, the rest of the country doesn’t drive like contestants on Death Race 3000. It’s taken some time to adjust.

  18. It all depends on where you live. If it were an equal travel time, I’d pick FLL. Quicker baggage return, if you know what you’re doing it’s just minutes from the road to the gate every time, and the rental car center is walk-able from every terminal unless you have limited mobility. Miami has made huge improvements, but the American terminal is massive and the train to the far gates is not very effective. I’ve had some super long, nonsensical walks coming in through customs.

    That said, FLL is also under construction, and Terminal 2 (mostly Delta) in particular is a mess. But when that’s complete (as they’ve mostly completed Terminals 3-4) I think it competes nicely with Miami. Personally, I prefer to spend as little time in the airport as possible and almost always start or terminate in South Florida, so lounge access is not as important to me as in other cities.

    But yes, if I lived closer to MIA I’d be just as fine with that as well. To me it all comes down to knowing the layout and tricks of your home airports and choosing the right time to travel.

  19. Born in Miami, agree with everything you said! Plus for avgeeks, there is an excitement you feel at MIA that few airports can match. You can feel it’s storied history, and see it too, despite the many upgrades. Heck, terminal E is right out of the 80s still! Whether be D, or H/J, the overhauled gates still retain old americana classic airport design. The drop off curb running the whole terminal building is something out of a movie of during the heyday starting modern aviation. (When traffic flows that is)

    The comraderie among airport staff is unique as well. Some are nasty, but some are delightful and this mix makes for memorable experiences. Even the common use of “Concourse” is a throwback.

    For families traveling together on their annual vacation, I would however recommend FLL. Short of that, I find FLL totally unremarkable. It works OK, just bland and boring. Except for midmorning-early afternoon on weekends during peak cruise season, it’s ugly, rude, and obnoxious.

  20. This has to be a paid article. The points are so stupid, “I prefer the airport that’s across the street to me then the one an hour away.”.

  21. I use FLL if going to Miami Beach and flying SWA – can walk directly into the car rental deck from the SW terminal exit. pleasant drive down A1A from airport (via Dania Beach causeway). keeps me off 95. prefer MIA if going to “mainland” Dade County. won’t fly anyone but SWA to FLL b/c that means dealing with the inter-terminal buses to get a car.

  22. Ben, driving in South Florida is quite stressful, period. Don’t think that it is just limited to driving between MIA and FLL. The only reason I sometimes fly out of MIA is because AA actually deploys widebody aircraft on a variety of domestic routes out of MIA whilst FLL gets no love and of course MIA has the Flagship Lounge. However, to me, FLL feels a lot less stressful than MIA in general. Every single time I fly out of MIA, AA is an absolute mess–long lines to check in even at the Priority counters and then the airport staff is beyond incompetent in general (e.g., the Priority security line often gets long just to get in because non-Priority passengers try to use it and then it’s not until the last minute that they get turned away). Also, in my experience, AA tends to be more delayed at MIA than FLL.

  23. Wow – I was just hoping for a reply comment, not a whole post! Well reasoned, and you’ve given me an answer for something I’ve always wondered about.

    I visit Florida frequently. Sometimes, but not often, I’ve flown in or out of FLL, although I’ve never gone through MIA. Even without going through Miami proper, I can fully understand your attitude towards south Florida traffic: time on the freeway is best limited as much as possible. Florida drivers are *nuts*.

    Anyways, thanks for taking the time to answer my question!

  24. I live in fort lauderdale and I will fly out of MIA as much as I can. Besides the lounges, first class seats, priority pass etc the biggest issue with FLL is parking. If you get there anywhere after 7am there is ZERO parking. MIA always has parking spots. It’s much more convinient.

  25. I prefer FLL hands down, whenever possible. It provides a much better travelling experience, however I try very hard to fly only with airlines that operate out of terminal 1.
    I am not native to Florida. Canadian actually. I don’t think the drivers are that terrible in soflo. I have driven all throughout eastern north america. Perhaps I don’t spend enough time in downtown Miami.

  26. Miami is a Shithole with a bunch of People who don’t know how to drive. The Airport is totally unorganized…. Very primitive…. I would always go to Fort Lauderdale airport hands down. For God’s Sake…. I would drive to Orlando Airport for International Flights before ubering to MIA.

  27. I used to live in Aventura and FLL was definitely more convenience for the same reason that MIA is more convenient for Lucky. Miami is not difficult to drive but there are a wide variety of behaviors, as Lucky mentioned. Some very aggressive and some barely able to stay in their lane. Every few days, there seems to be a story of a 90 year old driver who drives into a post office or store, ramming the plate glass.

  28. I think the Metro paired with the Metromover buzzing around Downtown and Brickell comprise one of the best examples of public transportation in the USA. I can estimate my time to get to MIA down to the minute.

    Even further afield, you’ve got Tri-Rail terminating at the airport, as well as Miami’s Greyhound station too. MIA Airport doesn’t get the credit it deserves for truly creating a single node transport hub for South Florida.

    Clear/Precheck in E now makes getting through security simple, too. I love flying MIA.

  29. I am not from the Florida area but I have transited through both MIA and FLL connecting from an international flight to a domestic flight and let me say that MIA wins hands down. While I do not enjoy the MIA airport at all, they were more efficient in handling international traffic and connections. In FLL, we landed early but then we had to sit at the gate for almost an hour because customs and immigration were backed up so had prevented passengers from disembarking from the planes. The luggage system was completely messed up and if I didn’t have Global Entry then I would’ve had to wait in line for over 2 hours to clear customs and immigration. I vowed then to never fly FLL international

  30. I live in Homestead. I will take some part of the FL Turnpike to either MIA or FLL. I like to be at the airport 2 hours before departure. My decision on where to fly is usually based on cost and non-stop schedule. I strongly dislike connecting flights, and tend to avoid them whenever I can.

    Travel to the airport is horrible. I favor early morning flights because for any MIA flight leaving between 7:30 AM and 11 AM, I pretty much have to leave my house at 5. Same for any flight out of FLL between 8 AM and 11 AM. So I might as well take the early flight.

    I do find it much easier to navigate FLL. I don’t care that the terminals aren’t connected. I have never had to go between terminals at FLL, only at MIA. (And don’t ask about gates E20 to E33). Some parts of MIA are generally nicer than FLL (AA), and some parts aren’t (everyone else). The “new” Terminal 1 at FLL is fine with me.

    I never almost never use lounges, so that doesn’t influence my choice.

    Bottom line: if MIA is cheaper and better schedule, I’ll fly from there. If I can save a couple of hours or $100, I’ll fly from FLL. YMMV.

  31. I recently stopped travelling to Miami, but I traveled to Miami every week for 10 months. Work was split between Miramar and Port of Miami (mostly Miramar, especially on flight days) and stayed near the bay or in Miami Beach. I flew out of MIA a couple times then tried FLL and never looked back. MIA took forever to get from the rental car to the gate, mainly because the terminal was loooooooong. There’s a train to take, but its not like that really made it faster as you needed to wait for the train. Definitely more food options at MIA vs FLL (really enjoyed the empanadas in MIA vs the… pretty crappy Golden Bear Grill or whatever it was. But I mostly don’t choose airports based on food choices but rather on convenience.

    Also, if I did get out of work early, but not early enough to catch an earlier flight, FLL has 3 Sons Brewing right next door to the airport, which is an amazing brewery and a very solid place to get some food as well.

    @Worldtraveler303: I actually moved to travelling out of FLL because of the rental car situation. Every time I rented a car out of MIA it took forever to get out of the rental car center. I remember waiting 20+ minutes to get out more than once (out of 4 or 5 times I flew out of MIA last year) and maybe that’s just a coincidence of small sample sizes, but it was enough that the bus at FLL didn’t bother me. And the bus dropped off right at the terminal vs taking a train and a moving sidewalk and then a decent walk just to get to security. At a different time of day than I was flying the timing at the MIA rental car center might be very different, but my travel plans were pretty consistent and it kept happening.

  32. I much rather be at MIA if my flight has any issue knowing that I will get on another flight no problem. FLL there isn’t the same possibilities.

  33. As a resident of Camden in Central London a 10 minute drive to the airport sounds unbelievable. It takes me an hour to drive if I’m lucky. But public transport in London is vastly superior so, like most people I just take the tube.

    I do get your point about Fort Lauderdale though. It gets the job done if you’re staying in Fort Lauderdale but otherwise Miami just makes so much more sense. I’m used to quite poor London driving but South Florida drivers are horrendous. The vast majority should’ve had their licenses removed by now.

  34. Regular user of both MIA and FLL…probably 48 weeks/year. Your description fits to a T, with the exception of Delta having a lounge.

    FLL is worse for me – despite being vastly closer – due to lounges, flight frequency, reliability of operations (Spirit, JB), and distance/hassle to car rental. Also, American has more back up options than either JetBlue or Spirit, so using MIA still offers lots of emergency connection options which I don’t see at JB or Spirit (perhaps SWA has lots of options…but not for the main route I fly).

    One point not yet mentioned…irregular operations and how that mixes with the age/stage of the FLL customer. FLL has the highest percentage of older travelers (wheel chairs and others in need of assistance) of any airport I use, by far. When an inbound is delayed, we all hope that the airline can make a “quick turn.” That’s tougher when more of the passengers need (and deserve) assistance. Every minute helps when making a connection. I’ve missed a few by 5-10 minutes when “maybe” if the turn had been faster the connection was possible. Hard to know for sure…

  35. I ll prefer FLL only since Emirates flies in there and not to MIA. Though Qatar has service to MIA my preferred airline is Emirates!

  36. I live near FLL. I prefer FLL over MIA just because of proximity. Although I also don’t find it nearly as hectic as MIA. Of course, I prefer MIA for international connections.

    Now, after living here for 8 years from NYC, I still don’t believe the driving on I-95! Virtually every day there is a major wreck. Do these people think this is bumper cars? Such nakedly aggressive driving is dangerous, expensive and deadly.

    If you want to see a motorcycle driver weaving in bumper to bumper traffic at 120 mph, with no helmet while smoking a cigarette and in flip flops, come on down. (TRUE STORY).

  37. I lived in South Florida from 1980 to 2000 from Boca Raton, Hollywood, North Miami to Coral Gables. Now my mother lives in Boca and my son is attending University of Miami, and I am back in South Florida once a month.

    IMHO, it is not really a choice between MIA and FLL. Rather, it is how I-95 traffic dictates which airport is more convenient to get to.

    If you live in Dade County, it is a no brainer to fly out of MIA. If you are in Broward County and Boca, I would pick FLL.

    MIA has not changed much other than the new J wing and revamped AA terminal. FLL is a newer airport. Both has its pros and cons, but neither is perfect.

    Concourse G at MIA is an embarrassment. I have taken Pan Am, TWA, Northwest, Continental and United our of that Concourse in the past 4 decades, and it has not changed much at all.

    The fond memory I have on MIA is the F Concourse where Pan Am had its flagship lounge under the escalator before security check and UA had its first buffet and open bar Red Carpet Club above the F gates when it operated most of the Latin American routes after purchasing them from Pan Am in the 90s.

    As a Cuban coffee and pastelitos lover, the Versailles near Concourse F is a must go to place before boarding.

  38. FLL hands down. MIA is filthy. The restrooms at FLL are incredibly spotless and (even as a guy) I’ve walked out of MIA’s restrooms as they were too dirty to go into.

    Also, from the Uber to the gate at FLL is < 5 mins, even with checking a bag.

    Uber from Brickell to FLL is 42 mins. 25 mins to MIA, but then you lose the advantage by the time you walk 1/2 a mile to your gate. Not sure what the author means by the scary drive. It is just a few miles up 95…

  39. I agree that most will generally use the airport which is closer to where they live. I-95 is a pain, especially during rush hour (which is pretty much now from 6am-11am and again from 3pm-7pm). I lived in both Miami and Fort Lauderdale. When I lived in Miami, I mostly flew out of MIA (typically AA to BOS). When the fare was too high, I would occasionally fly out of FLL (typically Delta Song to BOS – this pre-dated JetBlue). After I moved to Aventura and then Fort Lauderdale, JetBlue began service and I became a huge fan. I wouldn’t have even considered MIA except for an international flight. FLL is smaller, easier to navigate and it’s much closer to downtown Fort Lauderdale than MIA is to downtown Miami (and the surrounding area).

  40. Agree on the drive
    It’s not that drivers are aggressive

    It’s that you have a dangerous mix of people that I’ve never seen before
    —sports car drag racing people going literally 100+mph
    —little old ladies going 35 mph on highway
    —people who learned to drive out of country so don’t use American driving norms

    Get in fast lane, risk getting rammed from behind
    Slow lane, come up on grandma faster than you expect
    Try to change lanes, almost hit by all 3 groups.

    That said…
    Neither MIA nor FLL are great airports
    It’s like choosing the cream of the crap

    Both are serviceable
    Nothing more or less

  41. I live in Sarasota, with SRQ, Fort Meyers, Tampa, Orlando, Lauderdale and Miami as my choices.
    Almost always fly out of Miami, cheaper prices and rental car return/ pickup is a piece of cake

  42. I guess this writer has never been to California especially the L.A. Area now that’s the place for the world’s worst drivers. I live 75 miles north of there and I won’t even think of driving the 101 or the 405. Forgettaboutit

  43. Having flown to Bogota twice in the last 6 months (both out of FLL), I can assure everyone that the drivers in South Florida are safe, courteous and professional compared to Colombia. In South Florida, traffic jams are common due to wrecks and construction. Bogota has rush 18-hours. That and some group closing the roads as a form of protest.

    I prefer FLL due to proximity and better deals to the places I want to go. One thing I cannot stand at MIA is the seating at gates. You have people waiting to get on a B777 but the gate barely has seating for the passengers of a B737. Then when everyone lines up to board, the corridors are blocked for anyone trying to pass through.

  44. On a weekend I would likely go from MIA as FLL is hell on weekends. During weekdays I would likely do FLL all things considered equal. Just my personal experience with these airports… And openly the lounges in MIA I´ve been to werent exactly worth it either. If I need a plate full of cheddar cubes and a chocolate cookie I can afford that myself.

  45. I’m up in Boynton Beach – I prefer PBI as that is easiest to get to, but otherwise I would say MIA

    1) Flights usually cheaper
    2) Nonstop most places
    3) extra 20 minutes in the car but flight time could be much less

  46. I live in Boca and lounges are a big deal for me and my family. it’s hard to believe that FLL has only one (delta). Even Emirates cannot offer its J&F a lounge. MIA has some great lounges, and evening PBI now has a priority pass. I find that Tri-Rail is very efficient and takes you directly to the MIA terminal, while in FLL you need to take a buss.

  47. @Steve A Ive lived in SoCal and been to NYC and MIA a few times….trust me, SoCal drivers are the best drivers in the world compared to driving in NYC, and according to Ben, MIA.

  48. Thank you for FINALLY addressing this, Ive never quite understood your reasons behind choosing MIA over FLL haha.

    Since I dont live in MIA, whenever I need to be down there, I’ll take JetBlue Mint to FLL and get an Uber to my South Beach hotel, more convenient as a tourist then dealing with chaos that is MIA, and I value my flight more then which airport is quicker to get to, specially since im only a visitor.

  49. I saw a Brightline train passing right by when I was in the Southwest terminal at FLL. US’ lack of interest in making things easy for public transportation is puzzling.

  50. I love this post even though I live 10 min from FLL. Since most of my flying is SWA or JetBlue, FLL works for me and it’s a great airport that’s quick to get in and out of but Ben is so right about I-95. As someone who moved from California 18 months ago, I-95 is what anarchy looks like and it’s probably why car insurance rates are far higher than California. Living next to a world-class airport like MIA is pretty cool and ultimately, it’s all about its convenience to where you live.

  51. I suspect that if I lived in Miami, I would use MIA instead of FLL. I live in Washington DC, and I refuse to fly out of BWI for similar reasons. It is simply too far away, and that would add significant time and taxi fare to my trips. I use DCA for most domestic flights, and IAD for west coast and Europe. No amount of cheerleading for Southwest Airlines will convince me to go all the way to BWI.

  52. Nice to read so many personal explanations and reasons for MIA vs FLL dilemma or choice.
    I prefer Miami because (sounds like some essay contest to win a bling prize)
    American Airlines (despite their poor service but I am seeing more and more younger FAs than “Grandmas” (HE Ali Akbar)(they are on European flights)
    Flagship Check in for European flights on my AA Explat and for Other flights through OW Emerald (Qatar)(which also gives entry to Flagship Lounge)
    7 flights a day to Havana (I need to use this very often)
    Direct flights to Paris (once a month) or BCN

    Uber to MIA. 20-40 min
    PreCheck still okay even though I am seeing longer lines
    Global Entry with AI Facial recognition. I am often out of Immigration in 30 seconds and out of the airport in 5 minutes after arrival (carry on only)

    I can choose to speak the language I want to speak : English (Native) or Spanish (fluent and love it)

    MIA for me

  53. You only mentioned the lounges that are in the American concourse.
    If you’re flying other airlines there are also more suitable lounges at MIA compared to FLL as well

  54. Did you seriously use customs, a breeze and MIA in the same sentence? A little over 2 years ago when I flew American to St Kitts I connected in MIA. Customs was awful, no one that speaks English directing you and over all very unorganized, My mom and her friend had the same experience last Fall. Earlier this month I flew Delta to St Kitts and connected in ATL, ATL is far superior to MIA.

  55. Miami Airport is pretty efficient if Miami is your final destination and you have global entry and never check in luggage. FLL often has cheaper fares but after baking in uber fees to and fro, whatever discount you may get disappears. I wouldn’t fly out of FLL just b/c of cheaper fares, only if timing or itinerary makes more sense. For instance, FLL may offer more convenient connections to SFO or IAD with United, so on and so forth. I live in South Beach and like Ben said, distance to FLL is much greater than to MIA.

  56. This review is spot on as I live in Brickell in downtown Miami and never go to the Lauderdale airport. Why anyone would want to drive and pay parking in FLL is beyond me. Or triple your Uber rate to save $100. Maybe on the weekends. It is an hour drive. More if in rush hour.
    American flies a lot of places and for the most part I am very satisfied with their rates and service.

    So true about the combination of geriatric drivers in the Villages and crazy drivers and motos in Bogota. LOL. But I would have to say Bogota is much worse than Miami traffic.

  57. I could totally understand your article, had you lived in Pembroke pines, like I do ,where 1 airport is 27 min away and the other one is 29 ,but 9 min vs 45 …would have been the end of debate for me .
    I work in Doral so I drive daily from Pembroke pines to Doral and back daily ,I can assure you the drive is as nasty going south as it is going north.

  58. He lies, when he say miami traffic is the worst in the world. Maybe it’s Becuse he is driving here that’s what makes the traffic bad .

  59. @M – I commented in the previous article that there HAS to be some kind of lobbying by AA against a Brightline station at FLL. The tracks are 50 feet from the terminal. It makes too much sense, and much more sense than a station in Boca or Aventura (which doesn’t even have a downtown, it’s insane that they’re getting a station). Then again, this is Miami, where nothing makes sense and transit doesn’t matter.

    I’d be the first person on that train to FLL. It would be faster than taking an uber during evening rush hour to MIA (and just as fast as the MetroRail + MIA Mover). Nice seats and open bar an added plus.

    And for those saying TriRail….oh my god. Talk about a journey from hell. Nothing like taking three modes of transit, having two connections, and one long shuttle bus ride at the end. It’s completely impractical, and I’m saying this as someone who lives in Brickell near a MetroRail station. It’s literally an impossible option for the other 95% of Miami residents. Not to mention the characters you see on those trains…it’s like a latin america meets north florida version of Jerry Springer.

    Lastly, in my ten years living here I still cannot come up with a word to describe the drivers. I-95 is hell on earth, and the Palmetto is the most inner ring.

  60. I could not agree more with you and your reader response. I live 10 minutes from FLL and gladly drive the average of 40 to 50 minutes to MIA for most of my flights. MIA is light years better than FLL in almost every aspect of what a traveler needs in an airport. Plus, as a one world traveler, there are so many more options out of MIA on AA, BA and Iberia, I’m not sure why I would ever use FLL.

  61. @ Lucky

    “This region has the worst drivers of anywhere in the world I’ve ever been”.
    You obviously haven’t spent much time in Brazil, Turkey or Israel.

  62. I fly from MIA bi weekly. I use delta, and my time from uber to gste is 7 minutes on average. The 7 am flight leaves my labe usually empty( clear and pre check) 8 out of 10 times im the only 1 in the lane. I also use MIA since its a 12 minute ride from the house, and FLL is at least 40. Early am every minute if sleep counts. FLL also makes ypu walk to the uber pickup area which is annoying as can be. As to the driving in SoFl, i honestly don’t think they’re bad. NY driving beats them hands down

  63. FLL is a terrible airport. The Delta terminal has been over capacity for 20 years, with crap food, a terrible screening layout and passengers often sitting on the floor of both the gate areas AND the SkyClub. They are building something new but meanwhile it’s a terrible ground experience. On weekends it’s all cruise passengers to/from Port Everglades and, well…

    Air Canada is an interesting FLL option, as you can often snag a decent business class fare to Asia or Europe, and of course the daily EK rotation. Though Air Canada is supposedly growing their MIA presence…

  64. “This region has the worst drivers of anywhere in the world I’ve ever been.”

    You obviously haven’t driven in the D.C. metro area.

  65. Great, I read this entire article only to realize the author came to this conclusion because he lives 10 minutes from MIA — the rest of the information is useless (besides the fact we know the traffic sucks) IMHO. Comparing apples to apples/airport to airport, FLL is WAY easier to get around, park, find your plane etc. without stress. Sorry if I’m being offensive but this article is dumb. If the author had lived in Hollywood would he write an article about how MIA is much worse?

    Thanks Google News for prominently positioning this article high up on my news feed. /s

  66. I live in Coral Gables and almost always fly out of MIA. I’m a university student so I fly home to New York a lot. I will fly out of MIA and fly into Newark then drive 1.5 hours home even though I could fly out of FLL and fly JetBlue straight to my town and drive 10min home. Different to the author, if I fly out of FLL I want to have a super early flight, so there is no traffic. It takes about 20 minutes or less to get to MIA and in the morning it takes around 45 minutes to get to FLL. Not just that, but when flying out of FLL around 7p.m., it took an hour and 45 minutes with traffic and over $150 for an Uber (I have a car but as a university student I have no family here and leave for months at time so I have to take an Uber), so you always have to leave way earlier (just in case). I second that drivers in Miami are the worst I’ve ever seen in the world(I lived in 3 different continents growing up, so I have seen tons of different driving cultures). Also FLL makes you walk to a hectic Uber pick-up spot while at MIA you can get one at any door. American is the worst airline in the country (even including frontier and sprit). Frontier actually surprised me how not bad it was on a Las Vegas-Orlando flight. Most people in Miami call American a necessary evil. I go 50/50 on American not being so bad that it’s worth it for MIA. I try to avoid American as much as possible. They have to have the worst customer service of any company (not airline) I’ve ever experienced. They disappoint time and time again. I try to fly United in and out of Newark. American had the worst planes from MIA to Latin America. Just last year to Lima, the old plane didn’t have TV, WiFi, or radio and no one was warned ahead of time. We were “lucky” that they damaged the plane while loading the luggage so we all had to get off and were able to download things, and got back on the same plane a few hours later. The one good thing used to be their partners. LATAM is a great airline and I would fly them to Latin American instead of American every chance I could, but even that is gone. I also only fly British Airways from MIA to Europe, so I can avoid American. Even American’s first class from Los Angeles to Miami wasn’t that great compared to other first class, cross-country routes. All-in-all MIA is much more convenient for people living in Miami but American IS bad enough to avoid whenever possible.

  67. I totally understand and agree. I live in Ft Lauderdale and will avoid flying out of Miami unless the fare is significantly cheaper for the same reasons cited in this article. The two airports are not close together, and traffic/Miami drivers makes the commute down to MIA super stressful.

  68. Yes, you live 10 min from the MIA airport—who wouldn’t go there instead of an airport 30 miles out of the way? But, you live 10 min from the AP. 95 is a mess because of Miami drivers, period. Whether they’re driving in Miami or anywhere else in SoFL does t matter, they are the bad drivers that cause the unfortunate wrecks and deaths.

    It also seems all your references are to first class amenities, such as lounges, perks and what not, but these are not available to the average flyer. Most people choose the most affordable option that fits their schedule. I always and have too fly economy because I don’t have a golden spoon in my mouth, but I always check both FLL and MIA if I’m going on a long haul because price beats out everything.

    Stop being a pretentious MIA piece. -and you’re a douche. 😉

  69. Let’s also not forget the problems with TSA at Miami – many, many divers have posted on scuba networks about have gear (expensive scuba gear) stolen out of their checked luggage when they flew through Miami. Maybe that’s resolved by now, maybe not.

  70. So you like MIA because it’s closer. And it took this entire article to elaborate on that.
    Do you get paid by the number of words?

  71. Hi Ben!! Thanks for sharing my post on the previous discussion.. nice to see my name in real life … lol.. I know your site is about planes, but you mentioned brightline or virgin trains now… I used to take it all the time to go Wilton .. then would lyft back once the bars close… it was cheap, and very nice train… but now it is too pricey for me, so now I just lyft up and back.. usually 35ish before tip each way from Brickell…

    Regarding your comment on 95, and how you said it was rare not to awe an accident.. I would say even more that it is rare that 95 is not shut down because of a motorcycle death… I despise driving here.. that is why my car is usually always parked in my building’s garage.. which is on the 9th floor.. so that is too a huge pain… and then of course getting stuck at the Brickell ave bridge over the Miami river..anyone who lives here knows about that one….

    One thing I did not previously say is that as the other readers have mentioned, JB does go to FLL and not MIA…I am a huge fan of JB, so I would use them if they beat out MIA and the price is good.. My partner and I used them last year going to Cartagena.. though coming back was the three hour wait in for BCP. I do not think anyone mentioned PBI.. which is so far and only did it once, never ever again.

    Side note, I am a huge fan of terminal D @ MIA.. there is an empanada place towards the end by gates for American Eagle that is good.. always a must for me… but like everyone has said…AA is mixed.. I have had good experiences with them, and then I have had downright horrible problems with them…one thing I have noticed lately is that AA basic economy prices are what used to be the normal price had been with regular seats about 30 dollars or so more. But now, regular coach is three to four times more… so I do not know anymore about AA… I went on Avianca last week to Bogotá and thought is was so much better than AA. Maybe, just maybe AA will liven up their act soon and realized they are the new Ryan Air of America….but as I said.. I just do not know anymore about AA

  72. I like this post as well. Grew up in Miami and now living near Fort Lauderdale. I agree with you about the drivers. I think it a wise decision to live close to the airport. South Florida traffic is unpredictable and annoying.

    BTW if you are looking to rent or buy property. I would like to help you.

  73. I’ve found from New England we often can get to PBI and/or FLL far cheaper than to MIA. Since usually going to Florida I am renting a car anyway, it doesn’t matter much.

  74. I live pretty much in between MIA and FLL and I’ll always pick MIA. So much more at MIA.

  75. Unless you live next to MIA, you’re better off going to FLL. Hands down. – FLL is a better airport. Yes – no lounges, It easier traffic, less walking, and shorter lines. I lived midway between MIA and FLL and I chose FLL every time. The one time I chose to fly American out of MIA, they had an A321 with both bad engines and cancelled the flight. No more…

  76. I live 20 minutes from FLL airport (north), but choose to go to MIA instead as it is a much better airport. No good lounge choices in FLL, low ceilings (in most terminals) with loud terminal-wide announcement shouting through speakers mere inches above your ears, terrible delays, crowded spaces, no decent sit down restaurant, and just a generally poor atmosphere throughout. By far MIA is a much nicer and a “real” airport versus an over-crowded regional airstrip that FLL is.

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