Flying to Miami International Airport (MIA)

Miami International Airport (MIA), located in Miami-Dade County, opened in 1928 as Pan American Field, the first modern terminal in the U.S. Consisting of separate rooms for arrivals, departures, immigration, and customs, it was the number one port of entry by air at the time. The official dedication and opening of mail and passenger service was made on January 9, 1929, with Lindburgh’s inaugural flight from Miami to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Subsequently, Eastern and National moved to the newly named 36th Street Airport, and by 1945, numerous other airlines had joined. After the Port Authority acquired the Miami Army Airfield, built during WW II, in 1947 and the Seaboard Railroad Tracks were removed, the two airports merged to become MIA. Major development and rebuilding continued through the years, and the original 116-acre airfield grew to a multi-billion dollar industry.

In 1991, Eastern and Pan American Airlines went bankrupt and MIA evolved into a major hub for American Airlines, and for a while, United Airlines. Today, every domestic airline and a majority of international airlines fly in and out of MIA including American, American Eagle, LAN, British, Alitalia, Delta, TACA, TAM, Aeromexico, Continental, and many others. In addition to charter flights such as Gulfstream International, the only airline with flights to Cuba, numerous cargo airlines use the services of MIA. It serves as a gateway between North, South, and Latin America, as well as providing connections to Europe and around the world. MIA is the 3rd largest airport in the U.S. in terms of air and cargo traffic, next to JFK in NYC and LAX in Los Angeles.

Some low cost airlines and many travelers prefer to use the Ft Lauderdale-Hollywood (FLL) or Palm Beach International Airport (PBIA) due to less tenant expense, fewer passengers, and less cargo. The FLL, a small airport with four terminals, has convenient ground transportation options, connections to the tri-rail service to Miami, and easy access to major roadways. Ft Lauderdale is 40 miles from Palm Beach and only 25 miles from Miami. The much smaller Palm Beach International Airport (PBIA), a bit further away, also serves Miami and the surrounding areas.

The semi-circular main terminal of MIA features seven concourses, A, C, D, E, F, G, and H. Concourse J, scheduled to open in February 2007, along with G, H, & J, will comprise the South Terminal. Ticketing and departures are located on the upper level, immigration and baggage on the lower. Overhead walkways connect the terminal to the parking garage and the heliport. There are numerous lounges, kiosks, gift shops, and private clubs, such as Delta’s Crown Room and American’s Admiral’s Club, located throughout the terminal concourses The MIA Hotel at concourse E offers accommodations and full-service dining at the Top of the Port restaurant.

As the largest exhibitor of art in public spaces, MIA sponsors art and cultural attractions for travelers and the community. Paintings by well-known artists such as Michelle Doner, Donald Lipski, Robert Calvo, and Patricia Ferguson can be found in the concourses, parking garages, and along the moving walkways. Unique exhibits are featured, as well, such as the noise abatement wall, designed by landscape architect Martha Schwartz and Keith Sonnier’s neon-light installation suspended beneath the heliport. John David Mooney’s concrete attraction, Miami Wave on the central island and toll collection area of MIA, has a 224-foot moving light sculpture that is visible by passengers arriving or departing from the airport. Other art projects are planned by artists including Betancourt, Goldberg, and Sato. Educational tours, instituted in 1973, are conducted Monday through Friday for the general public, for school children ages six and older, and civic organizations, and generally last two to two and a half hours.

MIA continues to expand to accommodate the increase in tourism and cargo traffic. Ongoing construction and development include the widening of Central Boulevard, the bridges, the addition of six lanes to 25th Street, and an elevated roadway between the airport and N.W. 82nd Avenue. American Airlines will begin non-stop service to Cozumel and Venezuela; Aero Condor, Aviacsa, and Korean Air plan to open service in 2007.

Parking: Two garages – Dolphin and Flamingo. Rates: $4.00/hour to a maximum of $15.00. Valet parking – $18 up to 3 hours, and 24 hours $30.00. Short term – $2.50 per half hour to a maximum $30.00.

Uncovered economy park and ride, 24 hours/365 days a year, at $8.00 a day — free shuttle services every 10 minutes to the airport.

Disabled and stroller permit parking available on the 3rd level and wheelchair accessible at ground level.
Public transportation: metro bus and free shuttle service from the tri-rail commuter station.

Airport Stats: 4.7 million square feet and 556 ticket counters. Over 32 million passengers a year go through MIA on 3,000 flights weekly to 180 cities around the world.

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