Six-Hour Immigration Lines at Miami Airport As Passengers Miss Connecting Flights, A Crisis for Both Citizens and Visitors

Passengers arriving into the country at Miami International Airport faced immigration lines stretching up to six hours long on Saturday evening. Video shows the line just to get into the immigration hall.

American citizens have a right to return to their country. At some point that right is being abrogated. Meanwhile, this is the first experience with the United States for foreigners visiting. Connecting passengers are missing their flights. U.S. Customs and Border Protection owes everyone an apology for failing to properly staff and process incoming passengers – and owes a fix so that this doesn’t repeat. While six or more hours’ wait is extreme, hours-long waits were reported earlier in the week, too.

Maybe Alejandro Mayorkas should have been impeached over this instead?

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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Ahh yes, just go get Global Entry and you can avoid all this. Government created a problem, so pay government money, willingly give them biometric data, and then you can avoid the government created problem.

  2. I cleared immigration in MIA earlier this month via Global Entry and it took less than 2 minutes between presenting yourself at the kiosk for a photo and being told you were good to go. I didn’t see anything for the non-Global Entry lines that looked anything like that so seems to depends on day/date/time. Didn’t have bags so it was a quick walk through the green lane at customs to outside the secure/sterile area. The challenge, as some others have noted, was going back through security for a connecting flight. There was only one line at the recheck after customs which was very long and the one employee there was telling everyone it was a 1-2 hour wait. We just went down the ramp (like you were leaving MIA), up an escalator, and up to ticketing and walked down to check point 5 which had a TSA Pre lane. The walk took less than 10 minutes then another 10 minutes in line and then into Terminal E and a quick walk to Terminal D for the connecting flight. You’re already outside of the secure area, so I don’t see why people don’t realize you can just use any checkpoint to get back into the secure area. You don’t even need to go outside. Likewise, it would seem the employees could have been helpful and told people that (yeah, that’s asking a lot).

  3. Been there this year back in January, I have global entry, while regular line was 5 miles long global entry wasn’t any better like one mile long.

  4. It’s long overdue that DHS gets broken up and CBP face real accountability for making America inhospitable to even law-abiding Americans returning home. The mess at MIA is all on the DHS and CBP which get funded too much for the messes they create.

    About AndyS: May AndyS’ unkind heart and twisted mind find mercy and may AndyS get the help needed.

  5. Yep. Unacceptable! Happens all the time. Why can’t immigration fix the issue?
    Complete disservice to visitors and citizens!

  6. JRMW,

    Passenger security screening lines at US airports were nowhere as bad as often when airport security was operated by airport and/or airline-paid screeners. I was one of the naive ones who after 9/11 thought that maybe federalizing airport security screening would professionalize things in a way I could appreciate. Nope, it became a much worse mess and still is over two decades after the creation of the TSA.

    About re-entering the US at MSP, the two fastest lines there when it’s slow-going tend to be the Global Entry line and sometimes the line for those with US visas. [However, sometimes I’ve sen the GE line has been the slowest of the bunch there and instead went the non-GE way to save beaucoup time to get to the transit security checkpoint or out into the public, landside arrivals area.]

    It’s the average American without Global Entry who more typically gets the worst of the CBP lines at MSP when it’s busy. The most noteworthy thing for me to see on arrival to MSP from Delta hubs in Europe is how the Somali grandmothers with US visas often seem to get to the MSP international baggage claim belts faster than the bulk of the American crowd coming back home from Mexico or elsewhere outside the US.

  7. Every American has to have a passport why not just register everyone for global entry at that time? This situation is getting worse with no resolve in sight.

  8. Maybe I’m missing something, but why do we have to go through security again after clearing customs? Had to do that last year connecting through MSP after flying DL from CDG. Isn’t every passenger required to go through security on their originating flight overseas? And is the entire customs area considered a secure area? Shouldn’t it be like connecting from one terminal to another on domestic flights?

  9. @zeppo, a review of terrorist bombing of airplanes will show why governments are unwilling to trust other governments inspection of those boarding airplanes as adequate. The bomb in luggage was loaded on Pan Am 103 supposedly in Frankfurt where inspection failed to find it. The procedures in Heathrow also did not find it.

  10. Nowadays, a bunch of high-income countries seem to trust the passenger security screening standards of a bunch of other high-income countries more than they used to do.

    Look into “one stop security” arrangements — routing with that in mind makes for a better travel experience than back when there were more “redundant” security checks for a higher proportion of passengers going via European airports than there are nowadays.

    The Panam 103 bombing was not a failure of passenger security screening checkpoints in Europe. It was a result of how little checked-in luggage and cargo in the cargo hold was screened.

  11. @zeppo

    You have to collect baggage and take it through customs when entering the US and therefore will have access to things not allowed in the cabin. This is why you must be re-screened.

  12. MIA is the worst airport I’ve been to in the United States. Everything about it, especially the employees, is horrible. I intentionally avoid it at all costs.

  13. I don’t understand why the U.S. insists on doing things the wrong way. Europe already solved this problem for its citizens years ago, with automated e-gates. Pre COVID we had the self service kiosks, while not as good as e-gates they are better than nothing. Why are we going backwards?

  14. @Jake
    CBP is part of the Federal government and not run by the State. The airport is under County control

  15. They do this to make people pay for pre TSA for whatever it is they charge per year. This happens on a regular basis. 8 planes come in at the same time and they have threw people handling intake

  16. To the people saying we should leave politics out of this for once and not compare this to the southern border – that’s not how it works. We are living under anarco-tyranny in which we as U.S. citizens are subjected to ridiculous security screenings and protocols, suffering horrendous consequences if we dare to step out of line, and yet meanwhile, foreigners who fit the racial and ethnic profile of the Democratic Party’s urban pets get to ride roughshod over our laws.

    An administration that does this to its own people deserves to be called out for how disgustingly evil and wicked it is. This is absolutely relevant.

  17. That line is in the South Terminal at MIA (looks like Concourse J), and that line is spanning the entire length of the Concourse!

    Concourse H and J is where a lot of non-Oneworld international airlines operate out of, and there are a lot of European airlines that arrive at the same time into that terminal. Virgin, Air France, Swiss, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, Air Canada, Avianca, and LATAM all have flights that arrive around 8-9pm into MIA’s South Terminal, and most of those flights are on widebodies. Around 3-4pm, all of those airlines, in addition to Condor, ITA, and Aerolineas Argentinas have flights arriving in that short period of time on widebodies (and more airlines on narrowbodies). To get such a long line, there had to have been a backup for a while, likely since middle of the day or earlier.

  18. I was traveling in November, for fun, thought I’d check the sears the night before to see if full, was not so I moved our seats to room to sprall out.. last minute they fill the seats with illegals..we are now surrounded with who knows who with what diseases.. I’m sure travelling was easier for them than me.

  19. My only entry experience in Miami was much the same. The wait was about 2 hours thankfully I have Global Entry and I was through in no time.

    My last entry was at JFK and that line looked to be about 1+ hour, after a 15 hour flight. That was the first time I thought GE was worth it.

    The majority of times I have re entered the US the regular immigration lines didn’t look bad at all.

    With the new kiosk I didn’t have to pull out my PP or fill out any form: the guard asked if I had anything to declare, and waved me through .

  20. Would be nice if there article mentioned why there was such a long wait, and if this is something to be expected regularly.

  21. Spent 4 hours last week in Miami in line not enough customs and only 1 machines to X-ray in use 3 sitting there dead!
    I complained to deaf ears : they are not hiring enough help!
    Plus that’s after a 8 hour flight from Chile and another 7 to go back to Canada all together an 30 hour trip!
    Felt sorry for the seniors waiting in line for so long after long flights!
    Never again

Comments are closed.