I’ll spare you the fluffy intro and just come right out and say it: depending on the airline you’re flying, a 1 hour layover might not be enough time in Miami. But before your panic attack sets in, consider this:
- As long as you’re flying the same airline from one domestic flight to another, 1 hour is plenty of time. 40 minutes is probably sufficient.
- Going from a domestic flight to an international flight will take about an hour.
- Godspeed if you’re coming from an international flight and connecting to a domestic flight. 1 hour won’t be enough.
I don’t normally start my guides to airport layover times this bluntly, but when it comes to the Miami International Airport (MIA), this quick (and brutally honest) dose of reality is warranted. It’s a nice airport, but connections can be gnarly under specific circumstances.
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The reason why a 1 hour layover is enough time in Miami (most of the time)
Even though I was quick to point out that 1 hour might not be enough time, the reality is that for most people flying through to Miami Airport, a 1 hour layover is all that’s really needed.
- All terminals are connected airside at MIA, meaning that you won’t have to go through additional security checkpoints to move from one to the other.
- If all you’re doing is connecting from one domestic flight to another, don’t worry – one hour is easy. Just walk from gate to gate. The farther the gate is away from from your arriving flight, the faster you’ll have to walk. Be prepared.
- One hour is also sufficient if you’re coming from a domestic flight connecting to an international flight. It’s a big airport, and you’re going to have to hustle, but it’s doable.
Reasons why a 1 hour layover might not be enough time
Although it’s not very common, having to walk from one end of the airport to the other to make your connecting flight in Miami is going to take a while. A 1 hour layover might not be enough time, because it’s a big airport, and it’s not very easy to walk from end to end.
Unlike many other major hub airports in United States, MIA doesn’t have an inter-terminal train connecting all terminals. There is one that runs up and down Terminal D, but you’re going to have to walk to get to any other terminal.
Additionally, a one hour layover is absolutely not going to be enough time if you’re coming from a international flight and connecting to a domestic flight. The customs and immigration process at MIA is notoriously slow. Personally, I wouldn’t even attempt to make a connection that tight.
What is the minimum layover for domestic flights in Miami?
Domestic to domestic connections in Miami can be made in as little as 40 minutes. This is especially true if you’re flying American Airlines, which occupies the entirety of Terminal D. Terminal D is massive, but there is a train (called the Skytrain) that runs up and down the length of it with four stops along the way. It’ll save you a bunch of time.
If you’re making a domestic to domestic connection but you’re switching airlines, you can still do it with less than an hour layover. Just keep moving, and try not to get distracted by the scent of Cinnabons until you reach your connecting gate.
What is the minimum layover for international flights in Miami?
Figuring out how long of a layover you’ll need for an international flight in or out of Miami is a little trickier. However, the most important thing to know is that in most scenarios, you going to need more than an hour.
Connecting TO an international flight
Connecting from a domestic flight to an international flight in Miami can be done in an hour. Although there are no additional security checks that you’ll have to go through to board your flight, you might have to walk a long way to reach it.
There is no designated international terminal at the Miami Airport (international flights depart from all terminals). It’s hard to say with any real certainty how long you’re going to need. In general, if you hustle, 1 hour should be enough time.
Connecting FROM an international flight
Connecting from an international flight to domestic flight in Miami is something I personally avoid if at all possible. I’ve always had bad luck going through passport control and customs at MIA. It’s a very busy airport, and sometimes it can take a while.
If there’s no way of avoiding it, my personal minimum layover time for an international to domestic connection in Miami is 2 hours.
A brief overview of the terminal layout at the Miami International Airport
The Miami International Airport is shaped like a giant horseshoe. It consists of three terminals (North, Central, and South) with five individual concourses (D, E, F, G, H, J). It’s a relatively simple design as far as major airports go, but looks can be deceiving. This is a massive facility, and they don’t make it very easy to get from one end to the other.
The nice thing about the design of the Miami Airport is that it’s really hard to get lost. It’s basically one long hallway in a U shape. Just start walking, and you’ll arrive at the next terminal before you know it.
Walking time between all terminals and concourses at MIA
If you love aimlessly walking through an airport on a long layover, Miami is the place to do it. It’s one of the most walkable airports in the United States, but it comes with a caveat: it’s a mother****** to walk from one into the other. Here’s how long it generally takes me:
Concourse D (East) to:
- Concourse D (West): 10 minutes (5 minutes if you take the Skytrain)
- Concourse E: 12 minutes
- Concourse F: 16 minutes
- Concourse G 20 minutes
- Concourse H: 24 minutes
- Concourse J: 28 minutes
Concourse D (West) to:
- Concourse D (East): 10 minutes (5 minutes if you take the Skytrain)
- Concourse E: 9 minutes
- Concourse F: 13 minutes
- Concourse G 17 minutes
- Concourse H: 21 minutes
- Concourse J: 25 minutes
Concourse E to:
- Concourse D (East): 12 minutes
- Concourse D (West): 9 minutes
- Concourse F: 4 minutes
- Concourse G 10 minutes
- Concourse H: 14 minutes
- Concourse J: 16 minutes
Concourse F to:
- Concourse D (East): 16 minutes
- Concourse D (West): 13 minutes
- Concourse E: 4 minutes
- Concourse G 4 minutes
- Concourse H: 8 minutes
- Concourse J: 12 minutes
Concourse G to:
- Concourse D (East): 20 minutes
- Concourse D (West): 17 minutes
- Concourse E: 10 minutes
- Concourse F: 4 minutes
- Concourse H: 4 minutes
- Concourse J: 8 minutes
Concourse H to:
- Concourse D (East): 24 minutes
- Concourse D (West): 21 minutes
- Concourse E: 14 minutes
- Concourse F: 8 minutes
- Concourse G: 4 minutes
- Concourse J: 4 minutes
Concourse J to:
- Concourse D (East): 28 minutes
- Concourse D (West): 25 minutes
- Concourse E: 16 minutes
- Concourse F: 12 minutes
- Concourse G: 8 minutes
- Concourse H: 4 minutes
Due to how long it takes to walk from one end of this airport to the other, I don’t recommend short layovers in Miami if walking is difficult for you.
There are moving walkways located pre-security, but to me, they’re not worth utilizing since you’re going to use up all the time you saved waiting in line at the security checkpoint to get back into the terminal.
How long of a layover do you need in Miami for a no-stress connection?
For a no-stress layover in Miami, my advice is to try and book flights with as much time between them as possible. Not only will it take a while to get from one end of this airport to the other, it’s a really nice facility with lots of great restaurants and shops. It’s a shame having to rush through it if you don’t have to.
Here’s how much time I would want for each type of connection scenario at the Miami airport:
Domestic to domestic layovers
In order to give myself plenty of time to use the bathroom and get something to eat without boredom setting in, an hour and a half would be just about perfect.
Domestic to international layovers
A 2 hour layover would be the perfect amount of time for me if I’m connecting from a domestic flight to an international flight in Miami. This would give me plenty of time to do all the things I would do for a domestic to domestic connection, plus account for the need to be on the plane sooner (per FAA regulations).
International to domestic layovers
Is preserving your sanity is your highest priority when making a connection from an international flight to a domestic flight in Miami, give yourself 3 hours. Maybe 4 if you’re a worrywart.
Useful tips for surviving a 1 hour layover at the Miami Airport
In general, I don’t recommend layovers of an hour or less in Miami unless you’re flying American Airlines. Yes, moving between all terminals a MIA is technically easy since they are all connected airside. However, The amount of time that it will take will be totally dependent on the airlines that you’re flying. Here are a handful of tips to help make it easier:
- Take advantage of the Skytrain in Terminal D. Although this train only operates within Terminal D, it’ll save you loads of time trying to get from one end to the other.
- If you’re willing to take the gamble of leaving the secure area to change terminals, the Skyride Connector located on level 3 is a fast way to get from one to the other. It might not save you any time if the line at the security checkpoint is long, but for gambling types, it may be worth the risk.
- As I always say in my airport layover guides, it’s smart to study the terminal map ahead of time to find out what terminals you’ll be arriving and departing from. If anything, it’ll help ease your mind and fend off anxiety-laden confusion when you arrive.