American Airlines Passengers In Miami Will Be Walking Up To A Mile To Their Gates

The Miami airport Skytrain, which operates inside of the American Airlines D concourse, is offline – and it may not be back for months. Three piers showed deterioration in the concrete, according to engineers.

Nearly half of passengers were using the train to go from security to their gate, or to connect between gates, because it takes half an hour for most people to walk the mile from one end of the terminal to the other.

The airport has been announcing closures of the train, but hadn’t said what the issue is. An engineering report to the city revealed the problem.

“Three piers, especially Pier 106, show accelerated deterioration of the concrete,” Albert Hernandez, an engineer for county contractor HNTB, wrote in a Sept. 15 email to senior staff at MIA. “There is extensive structural cracking in various patterns throughout the exposed pier cap perimeter.”

The system is inspected every other year, and cracks were first identified in 2021. They had grown by May. While over 100 piers hold up the train, cracks are an issue with three of them.

With the system shut down, the airport is running golf carts that you can flag down… if they’re empty. The airport has only been running two golf carts and only between 9:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. – in a concourse that sees 80,000 passengers per day. Be prepared to walk.

  • Some people will be late for flights if they don’t give themselves more time arriving at the airport
  • And some already-booked short connections may be a lot tighter

Analysis of the issue alone is expected to take until mid-month. Then a plan will have to be agreed to, repair services procured, and then undertaken.

(HT: Chris Sloan)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. @ Gary — Good opportunity to get some steps! Of course, let’s hope AA isn’t scheduling 25 minute connections like in CLT. For those who would have difficulty making this walk, WTH gives with the no shuttle service from 1 to 4 PM? The employees must eat lunch at the Golden Corral SkyClub and have to wait in line for access.

  2. I love our airport and all the critics (everyone has an opinion).
    I love the fact its about $3 from Brickell to MIA on MetroRail.
    I hate the fact that Miami-Dade escalators, moving sidewalks, elevators…. are never working.
    “Its SOOOO Miami”

  3. While walking the MIA mile to catch a connecting flight, consider all the marketing opportunities you could offer passengers during their trek. I recommend showing the benefits of the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red Mastercard, one-way rental of roller skates, Segway rentals, or skateboard rentals.

  4. Although I avoid AA whenever possible, this impractical service both in terms of hours and number of available golf carts, is the airport’s fault, not AA. My wife and I are both handicapped and need transport to gates and I wonder how this is going to affect our ability to use this service for any airline.
    Well, it is Miami….

  5. Concourse D in MIA is a very nice facility but it is not designed to be walkable from end to end. There will be enormous passenger inconvenience and many customers won’t know of the system shutdown or be prepared to walk, if they are able.
    The timeline to get it fixed is beyond scary. When a bridge over I-40 over the Mississippi River at Memphis was found to have cracks, the state of TN, which maintains the bridge, kicked into hypergear and got the necessary improvements made. It is doubtful that MIA will get what is a much smaller task done near as quickly as the State of Tennessee did.

  6. hmmmm….. I actually dont mind some of the longer walks in airports – especially if I am waiting for a connection or arriving early. As was noted, a chance to get some extra steps in before I end up sitting, cramped, all days. Besides, a lot healthier than dealing with the lounges these days.

  7. The short term solution is to add those multi car tram vehicles that they use at the amusement parks. Maybe not quite as long but certainly could service larger numbers of passengers per trip.

  8. Thank goodness there’s no shortage of available golf carts in Florida. I’m sure they can scrounge up some more.

  9. Great news for all the obese Americans. Some forced exercise. I cannot fathom how people just keep getting fatter and fatter. Are they unaware of the problems associated with obesity?

  10. @ Gary — The trains haven’t been around for that long (only 13 years), so people used to make this walk all the time. For the average person, it may be annoying, but it really is no big deal. The train doesn’t save time anyway — by the time you go up two levels of escalators, wait for the train, board, ride, deboard, and go down two levels of escalators, you have saved no time or any significant effort. I am guessing that this project was funded by the ARRA of 2009, poorly designed and constructed, and basically a giant waste of taxpayer money. Hopefully they just tear it down.

  11. So much for my visits to the Centurion lounge when Ive got a flight on the other side of the concourse!

  12. Add in the broken moving walks, escalators, elevators with expired safety certificates, etc and that’s MIA in a nutshell

  13. Forgot to mention this: the train closure will have effects on Int’l arrivals as well. Some arrival gates place you on the train to get to passport control. I’m assuming there are alternate walking routes in the sterile area, but if not, then Int’l arrivals will have to all be at certain gates that do not use the train

  14. Gene,
    your assumption is that AA only carries able-bodied people for whom walking is an equal alternative, even if not as convenient.
    The simple reality is that US airlines all carry large numbers of seniors, obese, and mobility challenged travelers.
    changing the paradigm in a facility that was designed to not have to be walked IS a big deal.

    I am sure that AA will not get enough golf carts or extra wheelchairs into service to compensate for the train being out of service and, as a result, some customers will miss their connections and have a much worse travel experience even if they make the flight.
    Whether it matters in the scope of it all remains to be seen but MIA will not be as good of an option as long as it takes the airport to get the 3 piers strengthened or rebuilt.

  15. Most connections are not D-1 to D-60. So, I doubt everyone will have to walk a mile to catch their next flight. However, when word gets out on the street, everyone will be checking the box for wheelchair assistance. Nevertheless, it’s going to be a mess in MIA for quite a while.

  16. I seem to recall that years ago one of the newly built MIA concourses sat empty and unused for a really long time because of major construction defects and resulting litigation. Can anyone confirm that? I mention this because concrete should not be failing after only 13 years. Whomever constructed the concrete train system supports has some explaining to do.

  17. Dougie – you mean like in Cleveland and UA?

    … I wonder if/when the ADA will start picking up this fight….


  18. AA at Miami isn’t the only problem for passengers. Even those not making connections at a number of airports — IAD, for example, are confronted with airports designed only for the physically fit.
    We have the ADA, which should have made it clear that not all travelers are as fit as Olympic athletes. Finding a wheelchair or a passenger cart is often an exercise in frustration. No wonder we’re encouraged to present at many airports 2-3 hours before our flights.

  19. No doubt whomever built these was the “low bidder.!!! That said, I assume AA will come up with some sort of mitigating form of transpiration, they had better…….MIA airport offering all of 2 carts is absolutely a ridiculous reaction to a major problem!!

  20. I agree with @Tim Dunn on this one. I was through Miami as a local departure the end of last week and the train was closed down. My departure gate ended up being D-38… but that was after heading toward the original D-6. And I’ve made connections where the train is useful to go from one end to the other, especially when going in/out of that American Eagle monstrosity at the very end.

    I did funny enough see a golf cart at security with someone holding a sign saying “Priority Pass.” Maybe shuttling people to the lounge?

    And being Miami (as a former resident), I somehow see this taking an illogically long time. After all, kickbacks take awhile to negotiate.

  21. Yeouch.

    I do not envy the people who have to fix this.

    Personally I’ll walk a mile to my gate if I need to, and appreciate the fact that I can. (I certainly am not going to take up space on a golf cart that a disabled person needs). Heck, I do it by choice because if I’m gonna spend a few hours sitting in a tin can I want to get my steps in first.

    But the airport (not the airline, this is not AA’s fault) needs to step up to provide better service to those who can’t walk a long distance…at least bring in more golf carts.

  22. I used to fly into and out of MIA weekly. I think I used that train maybe once. Hardly anyone uses it as it’s way too inconvenient to use and doesn’t really go that far. It’s generally just faster to walk versus go up three stories on slow escalators take the train for 20 seconds then three more floors back down. I always found that to be the most useless train system in any airport.

    Regardless, a good walk before or after a flight is great. Nearly everyone does the healthier thing and just walks. The train could be much better.

  23. The train will certainly be shut down for months – how long have the escalators and elevators in MIA been out of service? As posted above, it takes a while to get the “funds” lined up for Tio Julio in Hialeah before the work can commence. Buena suerte!

    As Holly Hegeman referred to MIA “The Perpetual Pit of Indulgence” of something along those lines. Very true to this day.

  24. You’d think the governor of Florida would be stepping up and exerting leadership in a time where such an important economic engine as the Miami Airport gateway is endangered.
    But I haven’t heard a word from him.
    What’s he up to, anyway?

  25. It’s almost amusing to hear Tim Dunn taking up for the disabled, elderly, and handicapped at Miami airport. He sure doesn’t say anything for them when it comes to Delta working with SLC to build a new terminal complex without any transportation whatsoever for years and very long walks, especially to the satellite terminal. In Miami, you may have to walk up to a mile if your gates are spread out. With any non-DL carrier (or Delta connection), you’re guaranteed a very long walk for the foreseeable future.

    But the hypocrisy never does end with Timmy.

    Let’s hope the city of MIA fixes this quickly. I personally really enjoy the long walk and avoid the train even if I’m going the span of the terminal. It just isn’t designed to optimize time saving. That said, I’m well aware I’m fortunate to be able to walk a long distance without trouble and I know others value the transport.

  26. Andy S wrote:
    > Good. Most fat ass Americans could use the exercise.

    Hi Andy (and all). I’m in my 50s and a freak accident had me get a broken hip fixed. Two years of PT later I can do about 3MPH and a mile walk is about my limit without stopping. That’s 20 minutes for the MIA mile and that’s without avoiding people looking down while walking straight ahead and making traffic worse. I’ve outgrown my walker, my trike, my cane, but I would find coming out of an 8,000 MSL AC environment to have to walk a nonstop mile daunting.

    I’m not a fat ass. At least my scale which measures BMI says so. BUT thank you for lumping all 331,900,000 “Americans” in your childish insult. Obesity in the butt is a problem, but so are ignorant aholes calling all Americans “fat ass.”

    Kindly direct your attention to the flight attendant. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight, and unless you have anything useful to add, keep your invectives and uppity manner to yourself. I’m sure you’re better than all Americans… well you might have been… but posting a stupid note on this forum just made you appear stupider than all Americans.

    P.S. MIA is one of the worst airports to walk in. The seething throngs of people congregate, move as masses, and don’t read or follow signage. Even if I were 100% able-bodied I doubt I could maintain a 3-4MPH pace for a mile.

  27. Why not install moving sidewalks if there is space to do so? I would assume they are cheaper and more convenient than the train.

  28. @Steven Bulger – several airports have actually removed moving walkways from inside their terminals, because it causes passengers to skip by retail shops

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