South Florida is a large hub for air travel and aviation in general. The two biggest airports in the area are Miami International and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. MIA is ranked as the 11th busiest airport in the US while FLL comes in as 21st. MIA from personal experience and heard through second-hand stories can be very busy and poorly run, especially if you are flying internationally. Customs at Miami can be a nightmare, I’ve stood in line for almost two hours to get through. Recently they installed the customs automated kiosks and have improved wait times significantly. Luckily on this trip I was flying from FLL-BOS so customs wasn’t required. I had a 7:00am flight and was only staying 4 miles away from the airport, so I figured showing up an hour beforehand should be plenty of time. I forgot and misjudged how insane Spirits home base is supposed to be and it almost cost me.
Being an hour early for a domestic flight is usually enough time but when you are flying Spirit Airlines you always have to ready for unexpected. I was staying only 4 miles away and it only took fifteen minutes to reach the airport. The airport itself is 3mi southeast of downtown Fort. Lauderdale and close to Cruise Terminal and near the Everglades. Fort Lauderdale is a very popular tourist and yacht destination. The airport caters to domestic and international traffic and its the hub for Spirit Airlines and Silver Airways as well as a focus city for JetBlue, Southwest and Allegiant Airlines. The airport has 4 terminals and is easily navigated by a ring road. Most of the terminal drop offs were quite, until I reached terminal 4 which was an absolute zoo. Spirit takes up most of terminal 4 and many of their flight leave early or late in the day to save a gate costs.
I trudged through the sidewalk madness and made it to the automated kiosks and easily printed my ticket. The bag drop line was extremely long and did not seem to be moving very quickly. Also the terminal itself felt a little dusty and old, it could definitely use a freshening up. I proceeded to security line thinking everything was going smoothly. When I tried to get in what I thought was the end of the security line, the Spirit agent kindly informed that this was not the end of the line and that I need to proceeded outside. “Outside” I said. I reluctantly obliged and proceeded outside to view the longest most insane security line imaginable.
I waited in the security line for over 30 minutes. I was amazing to me how inept the passengers are that fly Spirit, it really is the bus of the sky. People were going through the metal detector with pockets full of coins, shoes and belts on. It didn’t seem that many people had gone through the security process before, but hey that’s Spirit for you. I will say the TSA agents at FLL were extremely friendly and patience with the madness. I finally got through and realized my flight was already boarding.
Terminal and Boarding
I didn’t have much time to explore as my flight was boarding and I was in zone 1, so I got right on. One think I did notice was the tight hallways, which made it feel cramped and crowded. Also the terminal had no life to it, no personality. It was drab, gray and uninviting. The terminal could definitely use a face lift and a new coat of paint. A little TLC and some colorful beach paintings would go a long way. There is a Dunkin Donuts, a Nathans Hot Dog stand and the Boat House restaurant where you can get a drink if you had time. I don’t believe there was free wifi but the seating was tight, adding to the crowded feeling. Overall I wasn’t very impressed with my short stay in terminal 4.
I was only able to see Terminal 4 at FLL but what I did see might be enough. It is a very busy airport, especially in the morning and can feel a little crowded. The ticketing area was normal, nothing special but the security was a mess and I was amazed I got through in 30 minutes. Post security seemed old and uninviting and could use a remodel. There was a real lack of restaurants and stores. In reality this grade is just for Terminal 4 but I would have to give it a C+. Nothing really stuck out as great and the experience was definitely forgettable. If you ever get down to FLL, let me know your thoughts and how the other terminals compare. When you do travel be sure to use tripchi as your airport guide to the stars. Travel On!