Brad Feld

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The Miami Airport Is A Shithole

Nov 23, 2005
Category Places

After a magnificent long weekend in the Bahamas, my return to American soil was via the Miami Airport.  Blech.  The best part of the airport was the landing on the runway.

We taxied for a while, eventually ending up in the middle of the airfield next to an active runway (holy shit – did that plane just take off next to us?)  A bus pulled up, we got off the plane and crowded on it, and then drove around in a circle for 10 minutes, enjoying the smell of exhaust mixed with jet fumes, eventually ending up at a terminal.  We went up an escalator and wandered past a huge number of gun-toting security dudes.  Eventually we made our way through the very nice and tidy customs area (I didn’t understand a word the custom agent said to me – he definitely wasn’t speaking English), down another escalator to a dingy baggage claim area, where we walked past rows of doors that were locked.  Eventually we found the one open door (hint: it was the one with the long line of people), waited a while, and got waived through the bag check area. 

The door magically opened into another huge space – this one not so dingy – but with completely incomprehensible signage.  Now – I’m a good traveler – I travel a lot – and usually just do it by feel, but this time I had to stop and think about what to do next.  We found a departure monitor, but the flights were listed alphabetically by airline and then by time.  We didn’t remember which airline we were on so a manual scan of the monitor eventually turned up Denver as our destination city near the last entry (yes – we were flying on United / Ted).  Eventually, a disheveled looking woman guarding the elevator from a plastic chair grunted “check in floor two” at us and it dawned on us that we should take the elevator up a level.

Voila.  Another huge space.  For some reason we weren’t checked in all the way through to Denver, so we wandered over to the United check in counter.  The computer kiosk worked fine and we went in search of the next line.  This one was only 100 or so people long waiting for another escalator up.  We waited and eventually had our boarding pass scrutinized by another person that spoke to me in a language I didn’t understand.  Up the escalator we went, to face another line, this one 200 or so people long.  Ah – security, TSA, line – cool – I’m in familiar territory.  Apparently in the Miami airport “keep your baggage with you at all times” means “leave your bags wherever the hell you want – we won’t do anything to them” which was even more entertaining after we told the TSA guy about the stray baggage (I’m not sure he understood the language I was speaking, which I’m certain was English.)

Eventually we cleared security.  Almost there, or so we thought.  We wandered down a dingy looking hallway (Terminal F), noticing the holes in the tiles, ceiling crap all over the floor, and stuff that looked eerily like asbestos coating the carpet.  You could smell the mold even before you saw it and everything in this hallway felt damp, except for the stunning black and white photographs of people lying mostly naked on the beach that adorned the wall (at least they have an appreciation of art in Terminal F.)

We finally got to the gate – a sea of purple chairs in the midst of a handful of crappy food stores.  Remarkably, they had free WiFi, but no power outlets anywhere (unless you were willing to stand up next to the pay phones, far away from everyone else).  A weak excuse for a strawberry smoothie allowed me to deny reality for a little while – I’m on the plane now and will be home soon.

What is this “Ted” thing anyway?  This feels like a bad excuse for Frontier.