As the shuttle pulled up to the terminal, I thought the shuttle driver had chosen to drop us off on the baggage claim level. It just didnt look right - no cars jammed into the curb dropping/picking up passengers, no employees crossing the streets to get to the employee bus, no typical mess that is Terminal C/D at MIA. After looking around and confirming we were indeed on the departure level, I realized that this was the long-awaited Terminal A/B open for business.
American Airlines now has its own area all to itself and its huge. Check-in counters as far as the eye can see. Of course, everything still manages to be a total clusterfuck with First Class being all the way at the end of the hall and multiple departure terminals and security checkpoints. I checked in at the First Class counter and was told my gate would be E2. Great... That meant I had to hoof it all the way to the farthest departure terminal from where I was at. The woman behind the counter told me to use the Terminal E security line in case the others were full. The C/D line was pretty short, so I went to pass there but I was stopped by the typical rude MIA employee who told me to use the D/E line because it would be "faster". Yeah, OK. Terminal E is the International Terminal and its usually mobbed this early in the morning. Lucky for me it wasn't too bad and I made it thru in about 15 minutes.
It was nice to see a Starbucks up and running in the new concourse check-in area. Another one looked to just have been finished and setup right outside the old Terminal D check-in area that now sits empty. Now if they could only get some Starbucks on the OTHER side of security. I was flying out of Terminal E and the breakfast options were Pizza Hut or some Cuban pastries. I'd rather starve than eat that crap. Not that Starbucks is that much better for breakfast but at least they make a decent chai tea.
Another nice new feature at the American Airlines counter was labeling bags as "Priority" for those of us who hold status with American. Waiting for bags at MIA takes FOREVER, so hopefully this miraculously speeds up the process of retrieving bags upon landing. I'm waiting to see what happens when I land in Minnesota, today's travel destination, to see if the labels have any effect on bag retrieval there.
That is if the bags make it there, of course...