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Flying to Miami

How to find that cheap flight and navigating Miami airport

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People come to Miami from all over the world in search of sunshine, fun and a cocktail or two! Getting here for most people means flying, so here is our guide to finding a cheap airline ticket and negotiating your way through Miami International airport.

Buying your ticket
The cost of airline tickets varies depending on season, day, and even the hour at which your flight leaves. It is definitely worth searching for your flight over a few days as the price can fluctuate wildly over the course of the week. I have found the best time to buy flights is on a Wednesday morning when prices are at their lowest. Use a travel site to search for cheaper options as well as airline websites. Beware that some cheap website prices look great at first, but check to see if surcharges and taxes are included. Sometimes when these are added on at the end they are no cheaper than the regular ticket price the airline is offering for sale.

Another tip is once you have found your ticket, Google for coupon codes for the website or airline. Sometimes you can get lucky and get a few more dollars off the price of an already cheap ticket.

Checking In
Many times with cheap flights to Miami your bag fees are not included. Save money by paying for your luggage in advance, and always check the airline rules about carry on. These days you are issued with an e-ticket, which is an electronic ticket that is emailed to you. This enables you to check in online 24 hours ahead of your flight, select your seat and even print your boarding pass, saving yourself valuable time at the airport.  It can also give you a better seat selection than people who wait to check in at the airline desk. You can even have the check in confirmation sent to your iPhone, and show only that to the check in staff.

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Arriving at the airport
If you are arriving on an international flight into Miami you will need to clear Customs and Immigration before you leave the airport. If you are from a country that is part of the Visa Waiver Program, you will need to fill out the ESTA form before you travel to the United States. However, everyone fills out a customs form before they can pass through immigration. Make sure you know the name and address of your hotel as you will need to fill it out on this form.

Once you land, the non US citizens and green card holders will go to an Immigration officer who will ask you questions about your reason for visiting the US. Do not be surprised at their brisk tone. Their job is to make sure no one enters the US illegally and so they will want to know how long you are staying and what your travel plans are. They will take your fingerprints, scan your eyes and ask you many questions before stamping your passport allowing you to enter the country. This process can feel overwhelming or intimidating for some people, so if you know this is what will happen before you arrive, you can approach the immigration desk calmly and prepared.

After you have passed through Immigration, they will stamp your customs form and you will go to collect your bags. When leaving the baggage hall, you will be stopped by a customs officer who will ask a few brief questions about your itinerary. They will collect your customs form and you are then free to leave the airport.

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Airport transportation
You have a few options to choose from when leaving Miami International Airport. Airport transportation is frequent and easy to use. Taxi cabs have fixed prices to all destinations so you don’t have to worry about the meter. For example, the cost of a cab to South Beach is $32, not including the tip. There is a shuttle service run by Super Shuttle in blue passenger vans for $21, a lower price than the cabs which is a good option for single travelers. There are also many bus routes that go to the beach and downtown for a very low price of $2.00. The airport flyer bus, number 150, costs $2.35 and runs every 30 minutes directly to South Beach. It stops at all bus stops down Collins and Washington Ave making it easy to get to a South Beach hotel. You will find the bus terminal directly opposite Terminal E in Arrivals.

One word of warning. The airport is not well air-conditioned, the staff are often unfriendly and arrival can be an unwelcoming experience. It’s just their way at this point of destination. Once you leave the airport things quickly improve. You are on the final part of your journey and your vacation is about to begin. Relax, enjoy, and don’t forget the cocktails.

About the Author:

A SoBe resident for 5 years, Jess’s writing focuses on healthy living in South Beach with a dose of British humor and a cheerful outlook on life in Miami. She can be found moderating the forum Miami Beach 411.

See more articles by Jess.

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