Fort Lauderdale Vs. Miami – Which South Florida Airport Is Better For Travelers?

With winter starting to get a grip of the Northeast weather, we thought we would look at Miami International Airport (MIA) and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) and see which one is better for travelers looking to head south. There are plenty of reasons why people chose to visit South Florida, be it a fun-filled party on Miami’s South Beach, a family vacation in Ft. Lauderdale, or visit your parents who have retired to Boca Raton. The question is which airport makes the most sense to fly into and why.

MIA has many more international flights than FLL. Photo: MIA

Miami International Airport is the main gateway into the United States for people arriving from the Caribbean and South and Central America. MIA also has the most international connections to other parts of the world, whereas Fort Lauderdale Airport concentrates more on domestic flights and is home to low-cost carrier Spirit. It is also the airport of choice if your final destination is north of Miami.

Miami International Airport (MIA)

Situated west of downtown Miami, MIA is around a 20-minute drive from nearly all parts of the city and is the airport of choice if you are heading to Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, Miami Beach, or up to Bal Harbour. MIA is also the airport to fly into if you are catching a cruise from The Port of Miami. Because of all the international and domestic flights, the airport is large and demands a fair bit of walking, with concourse D alone having 60 gates.

What we like about Miami International Airport is its distinctly Latin American feel, with Spanish as the predominant language. This doesn’t mean to imply that airport personnel only speak Spanish as they have to be bilingual to accommodate non-Spanish speakers. While Miami Airport is very cosmopolitan, many people using the airport can lead to long lines and especially so at immigration when returning from overseas. Besides the great Cuban coffee and food offerings, MIA’s unique feature is that it is always cooler inside the airport than out more often than not. Something you will notice as soon as you leave the terminal.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)

Located between the cities of Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) is the airport you should use if your final destination is north of Miami. This means that if you visit Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Pompano Beach, or Coral Springs, FLL is the best airport to use.

fort lauderdale airport
FLL is not as busy as MIA. Photo: Ziggymarley01 via Wikipedia

Driving in South Florida can be quite hectic, with traffic on the state’s main artery Interstate-95 backed up during rush hour. So depending on the time of your flight, FLL might be a better choice than MIA. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is also the airport you want to use to catch a cruise ship from Port Everglades.

FLL is less crowded than MIA

Sadly Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is starting to look a little dated, and the wait for an UBER or Lyft ride can often take more than 10-minutes, which is not the case at MIA. On the plus side, FLL is more laid back and less crowded than MIA and has much shorter TSA lines than MIA.

Spirit A319
LCCs like Spirit fly from FLL. Photo: Spirit

The airport is also home to budget airlines like Spirt, Southwest, and JetBlue, making more often than not a cheaper way to visit South Florida than flying into Miami. Whichever airport in South Florida you select, be sure and monitor the weather with even small tropical storms causing domino-effect delays during the hurricane season between June and November.

If you have used both MIA and FLL, we would love to read which one is your favorite and why in the comments.