This just in: Connecting through Miami from a Caribbean golf trip no fun
The only bad part about my recent trip to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic was my return trip connecting through Miami back to Houston. In the future, I will definitely try to avoid having to go through U.S. Customs in Miami for any international trip.
The golf – which included Pete Dye’s famed Teeth of the Dog course – the food, culture, accommodations and entertainment were all first-rate at the 7,000-acre resort. But the all-day and night trip back made me think about a couple of things.
First, I was glad that I had a four-hour layover in Miami because I needed at least half of it.
Getting though Passport Control was no problem, but when I got to the baggage room, where you’re supposed to find your bags and proceed through Customs – that’s when the fun began.
I knew I was in trouble when I saw a sign announcing the renovation of the Customs area. My interpretation was that the current setup was less than adequate, which was most accurate.
Here was my second clue that things were going to be bad: Taking the escalator down to the Customs/baggage area, we had to push the people getting off the escalator to avoid a comical pile-up of people at the bottom. That’s how packed this area was; coming off the escalator people had nowhere to go.
Best I could tell there were eight carousels for baggage. Coming off the escalator in this sea of people, my bags were to come off Carousel 2. The problem was that there were dozens of lines of people in line for Customs clearance. They were wrapped completely around the carousels, blocking our way to our bags. Since you need to get your bags first before you can go through Customs, that was a problem. When I asked one of the workers how I was supposed to get to my carousel, he simply shrugged his shoulders and walked away.
About 20 or 30 minutes later, I eventually made my way to Carousel 2. Then I found out that oversized bags – the category golf bags fall under – were going to be put against the wall somewhere. No kidding.
I was actually thinking at one point, “Hmmm, I’ve got a couple more sets of clubs at home; maybe I should just leave them here.”
I was also thinking I should have just used the Callaway rental sets offered at Casa de Campo.
Another 20 minutes passed, and still no golf clubs. But with the Customs line looking worse than the DMV, I decided to get into it and just hope that my golf clubs magically appeared while I was in line and in the proper position when they did show up. Somehow they did.
I spent more than an hour in baggage and Customs, and I wasn’t done yet. Once you get through Customs, you have to recheck your bags, and then go through security again. Then I had to find my gate, which involved about a half mile of walking and three Sky Train stops.
In the end, I had plenty of time because I had a four-hour layover, but I’m pretty sure the folks who only had a couple of hours of less cut it close or didn’t make their connecting flights.
I’m not saying I won’t connect through Miami anymore, but it wouldn’t be my first or second choice. And I will think twice about bringing my clubs on shortish trips, especially when the resort offers nice rentals.
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