Guess which local player stars in television’s latest reality show?
Coming to the small screen next week: Miami International Airport.
MIA is the star of a new series on the Travel Channel: Airport 24/7: Miami. The six-episode series premieres at 9 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2. If you’re a frequent flyer out of MIA, the show may not hold any surprises for you. But the show does underscore the complications and pressures of operating one of the biggest airports in the U.S.
Some vital stats: 38 million passengers a year (that’s more than 100,000 passengers daily moving along the concourses), 36,000 employees, 800 flights a day. Among U.S. airports, MIA is considered at high risk for terrorism and drug and currency smuggling.
In the first two episodes, all that and more make an appearance. A man “forgets” he packed a handgun in his carry-on and is hauled off by police. Another man has a knife concealed in the sole of his shoe; he’s now being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney. A dog sniffs out copious amount of cash ($20,000) on a couple who flew in from Germany — large amounts of cash are often associated with drugs or terrorism, we learn — but the two are determined to be simply wealthy European surgeons on vacation. Another dog gets excited about a load of tractor parts, and after much drilling through metal, cocaine is found in the parts. And an extra-large jar of peanut butter is confiscated from a woman who objects vociferously (but is not arrested).
Which brings us to what we do learn: Some people must have been living in caves since before 9/11, judging by what they think they can get past the security checkpoint. We see a display case with some of the other souvenirs confiscated from passengers: knives, grenades, box cutters, nunchuks, what looks like a crossbow (to bring down that elusive airline meal, no doubt).
So, you may be asking, how does one survive the dangers of a major international airport? The employees of MIA have good advice for you. Click to keep reading their 20 top tips.
The staff of MIA featured in Travel Channel’s new series, “Airport 24/7: Miami” offers the best tips for successful air travel.
HEIDI ANTHONY, TERMINAL OPERATIONS SENIOR AGENT
1. START YOUR VACATION AT THE AIRPORT – HAVE FUN!
Most think a vacation begins once they get to their destination, but it really begins as your traveling to your destination. This means traveling through a major airport such as Miami International Airport.
The best tip I can give is to make an effort to be positive, observe everything around you and talk to strangers!
This is easily accomplished through people watching. Miami International is a great place to observe many different cultures and customs traveling in and out of Miami. Best of all, it’s free and everyone in the family can participate! Have fun, be positive and learn about the world around you. It will make your traveling experience that much better.
DARIUS BRADSHAW, TERMINAL OPERATIONS CONTROL ROOM AGENT
2. KNOW YOUR FLIGHT INFORMATION
One travel tip I always give is, “Know the flight information.” I’ve noticed whether assisting passengers on the phone or in person, many aren’t familiar with the flight information. For us this is a unique identifier, almost like your social security number. It tells us what we need to know and how we may best help you: time, location, gate information, what airline to contact when resolving issues, where the flight will arrive or depart and where baggage claim may be. This may sound minuscule, but it can be the difference between finding that bag with the wedding gown and medication in it or going into full blown panic, turning an otherwise uneventful journey into a nightmare!
3. PACK ALL VALUABLES IN YOUR CARRY-ON
This leads to my next travel tip, “Don’t pack your medication, valuables, and documents in your checked luggage.” Many times I have called paramedics for an ill passenger who has packed their prescribed medication in their checked luggage, which presents a grave situation for the traveler. Not only are they at risk of medical crisis because the medication is in the checked luggage, but they may also miss the flight when they need to be transported to the hospital. The same can be said for valuables and documents.
TONY COOPER, TERMINAL OPERATIONS SENIOR AGENT
4. KNOW YOUR LUGGAGE LIMITS
Be aware of the amount of luggage you can travel with and the weight that is allowed for each piece. Check TSA rules & regulations as to what you can carry through the check point.
Do not let anyone handle your luggage other than an airline or airport employee.
5. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE AMENITIES
When traveling through MIA, take advantage of all the amenities that we offer. Amenities include over 200 shops and restaurants, a hotel, free Wi-Fi, VIP Lounges and even art exhibitions. After all, we are striving to be the world’s best airport!
ALBERT CORESCHI, TRIANGLE SERVICES RAMP DUTY MANAGER
6. MAKE YOUR LUGGAGE STAND OUT
In order to not lose any baggage, make your luggage unique in appearance as they can look very similar. Use a bright bow or tie on the handle, and attach a tag with your name and contact details on outside.
7. SECURE YOUR BAGS
Pack by TSA regulations, secure all items inside your luggage and seal all spillable items. Try to avoid over-packing and avoid using luggage with tears. We tape broken luggage all the time!
DICKIE DAVIS, DIRECTOR OF TERMINAL OPERATIONS
8. ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING
For the most part, upgrades are not an entitlement and if they are, you won't have to fight for them. If they are not, don't press your luck. Airline agents work hard, the last thing they need is a pushy passenger "demanding" something. Remember, attitude is everything. And in general, no matter what the issue is – lost luggage, cancelled flight, etc. – it helps if you dress well. If you dress like a bum...well, you get the idea.
9. WASH AND WEAR TO AVOID WORRIES
I almost never check a bag. It's that simple. A few years ago, we went to Africa for three weeks with carry-on luggage. How? Wash, wear and stop worrying. When checking a bag is an absolute must, make sure your name, cell number and a copy of your itinerary are inside your bag. Always lock your bag and use a TSA approved lock.
10. BE THE NICE SQUEAKY WHEEL
Also, arrive at the baggage claim before your bag is there. If your bag is lost, file your claim immediately and before you leave the airport. Bug the airlines politely in the subsequent days. The nice squeaking wheel technique works. But remember, always be polite.
ERICKA MIDDLETON, TERMINAL SECURITY AGENT
11. KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING
Plan ahead! View the airport terminal map online or download their app on your smart phone in order to know parking and terminal locations.
12. COME PREPARED
Wear comfortable shoes, light clothing and a sweater as it’s usually very cold on the plane. I’ve been amazed how cold an airplane can be during flight, even in summer. Have a good meal and trip to bathroom before arriving at the airport. Carry cash for tipping and once at the airport READ the signs!!!
KEN PYATT, DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR OPERATIONS
13. SKIP THE LINE – USE THE WI-FI!
If your flight is delayed or canceled, rather than waiting to speak with an agent or calling airline reservations, use your laptop to access the airline’s website and make changes online. MIA offers free Wi-Fi access to all airline websites.
14. WEAR YOUR SLIP-ONS
There are two rules of thumb I use whenever I travel. First, I wear slip-on loafers, which can easily be removed at the checkpoint, and go with both business and casual attire. I also carry a fold-up shoehorn.
15. REMOVE OLD BAG TAGS
When checking a bag, always remove tags from previous flights. Sometimes, I think people like to leave old tags on as some kind of badge of frequent travel. Also, many airlines place a small barcode sticker on your bag when checking it to ensure the baggage system can read encoded information about your flight from front or back. This sticker should always be removed before checking your bag. The only item that should be on your bag when you present it for check-in is a name tag.
CHRIS RUTLEDGE, MOTORCYCLE OFFICER, MDPD
16. NO SPEEDING!
Before you leave for the airport, call your airline provider to check the status of your flight. Once you’re sure of your departure time, allow yourself adequate travel time and don’t speed. Your safety is paramount.
17. PARK LIKE A PRO
Know where you’ll be parking ahead of time, and be aware of ALL posted signs. Do not park on the side of the roadway/shoulder area of any airport. At MIA, we encourage you to use our convenient cell phone lot while waiting for arriving passengers, located approximately two minutes away from the terminal.
LAUREN STOVER, DIRECTOR OF SECURITY
18. ENROLL IN THE GLOBAL ENTRY PROGRAM
If you're not enrolled in TSA's Pre-Check Program or Homeland Security’s Global Entry Program, you need to be! If you're a U.S. Citizen or lawful permanent resident, this is the best. If you sign up for Global Entry, you whisk through BOTH CBP processing coming back into the U.S. and the TSA checkpoints (at participating airports and if you're not chosen for random screening). The Global Entry program can make traveling a breeze.
19. ORGANIZE IN ADVANCE Also, start organizing your items while waiting in line. Put valuables such as jewelry in a plastic bag and insert it in a carry on. When I travel, I don't bother to wear anything I'll more than likely have to remove, such as my belt, earrings and bulky accessories. I put it all in my carry-on and dress after I'm screened.
20. LEAVE YOUR WEAPONS AT HOME
And yes, last but not least, leave your loaded guns at home or properly stow them in your checked baggage. The "oh I forgot I had it" line will likely get you an extra free night in Miami!