One of my earliest posts when I started this blog in 2013 discussed how I’d been to all but six of the FAA-designated large hubs in the US, and I was only missing six: IAH, MDW, SAN, TPA, FLL, and MIA. Over the years, I’d managed to visit the first five, and this week I finally picked up MIA as well, completing my collection of large US hub airports.
I’d originally scheduled a 2 hour and 45 minute layover to give myself time to explore the airport, but my incoming flight was delayed and I only ended up getting about two hours. However, it ended up being enough, because in my reading up about MIA pre-trip, I’d somehow managed to miss that the concourses weren’t all connected behind security. With my AA boarding passes, I’d only be able to see concourses D and E airside.
D was quite long – while I don’t believe it’s quite as long as the main terminal at DTW, it’s the only airport I can recall visiting a single concourse with four of its own train stations.
E was interesting with its bizarre pier and satellite structure, where instead of the satellite train connecting to the close end of the pier, it connected to the root of the pier, with the tracks running over the roof of the length of the pier.
Since D and E didn’t take the whole layover time to explore, and since I had PreCheck to expedite security, I also went ahead and exited the secure area to visit the ticketing, baggage claim, and parking structure areas.
All in all, it’s not an airport that I would go out of my way to visit again, but it was a pretty decent airport for a moderate layover.
I have a love–hate relationship with Kansas City International (KCI): it’s a beautiful terminal concept that absolutely doesn’t work as a modern airport.
KCI was designed to minimize walking from one’s parked car to the gate, and so each of the three terminals is a thin circle wrapped around a parking garage.
However, this design was built before airport security was required, and the terminals weren’t wide enough to have singular landside and airside areas separated by a security checkpoint. Thus, the terminals had to have multiple security checkpoints, with only a few gates behind each, in order to make security fit.
Given those limitations, the airside seating areas past security are exceptionally crowded and have very limited amenities. My particular gate area had rows of seats that were crowded so close together that two people couldn’t sit across from each other without interweaving their knees, and yet there still weren’t enough seats for everyone to sit down.
Effectively, KCI is a pretty unique airport design, which I appreciate – but I also have no desire to ever fly out of it again until its upcoming new, modern terminal is open.
Pittsburgh is about a four hour drive from my home near Dayton, which means that it’s in what I call the doughnut zone – airports which are too far to fly from, but too close to fly to as a destination. The only airports I have in that zone tend to be hubs that I connect through, and Pittsburgh is not a hub for any airline I routinely fly, so I’ve never had a chance to connect through there.
Back in 2014, I almost had a chance to visit PIT; we were traveling home from Boston through Newark to Dayton, but the Newark to Dayton flight was cancelled and there wasn’t another flight to Dayton that day. There was a flight to Pittsburgh and we switched to it at first, intending to rent a car to get home from there. Ultimately, though, we changed to a flight the next morning and spent the night near the airport.
Ever since then, I’ve been hoping for a chance to visit PIT, and I eventually got it earlier this week.
I was booked on a Dayton – Chicago O’Hare – Denver route on United, but my first flight was delayed enough to miss my connection, and the airline didn’t have any more seats available on any other Chicago – Denver flights that day, so they sent me from Chicago to Pittsburgh to connect to a Denver-bound flight from there.
It was certainly an odd routing; after two flights, I was further from Denver than when I started. But I was finally able to add PIT to my list as my 90th airport visited.