Travelers pack Miami International Airport, but biggest problem is no parking

MIAMI, Fla. – While officials at airports throughout the country, including Miami International Airport were expecting the amount of travelers taking to the air for the Thanksgiving holiday to be close to pre-pandemic levels, the biggest problem at MIA on Thursday was parking.

MIA issued a travel advisory on its social media alerting travelers that the parking garages at the airport were full. Local 10 News at the airport talked to travelers who said they had been circling the garages in their cars for almost an hour.

Airport officials are suggesting alternatives such as using rideshare, taxi services or Tri-Rail.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport was advising drivers to use overflow parking.

Even before the parking headaches at MIA, travelers found traffic jams trying to get into the airport.

And inside, people were crammed in lines to check in. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says it expects security checkpoints nationwide to be busy during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period, which runs through Sunday, Nov. 28.

Officials advise arriving at the airport at least 2 hours before scheduled take-off, but with the parking headaches and other travel traffic jams, it may be advisable to leave even more time.

TSA Administrator David Pekoske says that travel may be “very close” to be pre-pandemic levels this holiday.

[RELATED: Check up-to-the-minute wait times at MIA security checkpoints]

This comes as the airline industry recovers from a worker shortage. But both TSA and airlines are bulking up staff and are ready for the crowds.

Typically, the busiest days during the Thanksgiving travel period are the Tuesday and Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving and the Sunday afterward. The highest travel day in TSA’s history was the Sunday after Thanksgiving of 2019 (pre-pandemic), when nearly 2.9 million individuals were screened at TSA security checkpoints nationwide.

“It’s all good so far,” said Debbie Canada, who was flying to Dallas. “We’re coming! Happy thanksgiving everybody!”

Pekoske advises travelers to pack their patience. “With overall vaccination rates improving nationwide and greater confidence in healthy travel, there will be more people traveling so plan ahead, remain vigilant and practice kindness.”

  • Get your questions answered before you head to the airport. Ask TSA. Travelers can get assistance in real time by submitting their questions and comments to @AskTSA on Twitter or Facebook Messenger. Travelers can also reach the TSA Contact Center at 866-289-9673. Staff is available from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends/holidays; and an automated service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

About the Authors:

Parker Branton joined Local 10 News in January 2019 as a reporter. He was born and raised in Rome, Georgia, but now loves living on the sunny beaches of South Florida.

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local She has a bachelor's degree from Emerson College, Boston, and a master's degree from SUNY-Empire State.