By Julie Landry Laviolette
If you have a disability and need accommodations while traveling through Miami International Airport, there are several services to make your journey easier. The airport’s Americans With Disabilities Act, or ADA, committee meets throughout the year to brainstorm ways to improve accessibility and facilities for passengers with cognitive, mobility and emotional challenges.
Here's where to begin:
Start with a spin through myMIAcess, the hub on Miami International Airport’s website where passengers with disabilities can learn about programs and services to help make their travels smoother. Everything you need to know about accessible airport travel through Miami can be found there.
Arriving at the Airport
If you have mobility issues and would like to request wheelchair assistance, your airline is the go-to. You can reserve wheelchair assistance in advance by calling your airline or requesting it online on your airline’s website. Wheelchair service also can be requested when you arrive at the airport, but during peak times there may be delays.
With wheelchair service, you can get help with one piece of carry-on luggage. If you need help with additional luggage, they are Skycap services available.
If you have a power wheelchair, you can check it in at the gate, where it will be placed in the plane’s cargo hold. It will be returned to you when you reach your destination.
If you are returning a rental car and need wheelchair assistance to the gate, you can arrange it with your rental car agency.
Accessible parking, including van accessible parking, can be found on the ground levels and third levels of both the Dolphin and Flamingo garages. The Dolphin Garage serves Concourses D and E. Use it when flying American Airlines, Qatar Airways, British Airways and JetBlue. The Flamingo Garage serves Concourses E through J. Use it when flying all other airlines.
Third-level bridges in both of the parking garages connect to the terminal. The bridges have moving sidewalks for pedestrians as well as paths that can be used by manual or power wheelchairs. Street level access to the terminal is also available.
If you need assistance retrieving a ticket to enter the parking garage, you can call the airport's parking operator 24/7 at 305-876-7536. A parking representative will be sent out to help you. If you need assistance when exiting the parking garage, select the "cash" lane where an attendant is available 24/7.
Free parking is available for Florida “Disabled Veteran” license plates, for vehicles with a Florida Toll Exemption Permit from the Florida Disabled Toll Permit Program, or vehicles that are permanently modified with special equipment such as foot controls, hand controls or motorized ramps.
Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Lanyard Program
Wearing a Sunflower Lanyard offers people who have disabilities that are not readily apparent a discreet way to signal airport personnel that they may need a little more patience.
“It's a discreet way to show our employees that a person may have an invisible or hidden disability, and that they may need a little bit more time, a little bit more patience, or that they may ask more questions,” said Jessica Marin-Urrea, ADA Coordinator for Miami International Airport.
The idea behind the international program, now available at some airports, hotels and attractions around the world, is to help people with non-visible disabilities get the support and empathy they need. Hidden disabilities can be physical, visual, auditory or neurological and range from autism, ADHD and cognitive impairments to physical conditions.
The lanyard does not offer expedited service or line jumping.
The free lanyard must be requested in advance and is not available at the airport. To request a lanyard, email ADAcoordinator@miami-airport.com and include your full name and mailing address. Allow 7 business days in the U.S. and 14 business days outside of the U.S.
Aira App for Blind and Low-vision Travelers
Blind and visionally impaired individuals can download the Aira mobile app to video chat with an agent for help navigating around the airport. The service is available 24/7.
“You just hold your phone up and they tell you what they are seeing,” Marin-Urrea said. “For example, they’ll say ‘On your righthand side is your gate. Keep going straight, two steps to your left, there’s a seat…Or they can help you find a bag or bathroom, whatever you need.”
Passengers with cognitive and developmental disabilities who need a quiet space away from the hustle and bustle of the airport can find refuge in the airport’s two multi-sensory rooms. The rooms include sensory aids and comfy chairs to help reduce agitation and anxiety. They are located post-security in Concourse D near TSA Security Checkpoint 4 and in the South Terminal near Concourse J. The rooms are open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
“Just press the intercom, say that you’re going to need access to the multi-sensory room, and they will let you in,” Marin-Urrea said. “You don’t have to say you have a disability or why you’re using it. All we need to know is that you need to access it.”
Miamamas Nursing Suites
Nursing mothers looking for quiet and privacy to pump or nurse can find nursing suites or pods in each concourse. The accessible nursing room is in Concourse J, right next to TSA Security Checkpoint J.
Service Animal Relief Areas
Indoor and outdoor pet relief stations are available. Indoor stations are enclosed and include synthetic grass, a fire hydrant, disposable bags and sinks.
Three outdoor relief areas are close to parking:
- An open area west of the North (Dolphin) garage and near North Terminal (D), across from Door 5 on Level 1 baggage claim/arrivals
- A fenced area west of the South Short Term parking lot and Central Terminal (F) across from Door 15 on Level 1 baggage claim/arrivals
- A fenced area south of the South (Flamingo) garage and near South Terminal (J), across from Door 28 on Level 1 baggage claim/arrivals
Four indoor pet relief spaces are located beyond the security checkpoints:
- North Terminal (D) near gate D34
- Concourse F near gate F7
- Concourse G near gate G5
- Concourse J behind gate J3
See a map of locations here.
Wheelchair Charging Stations
Charge your electric wheelchair or mobility devices at one of 10 wheelchair charging stations located throughout the airport. “These help people with an electric mobility device or wheelchair charge their devices before they travel or after they're done, so they don’t have to stress about not having enough juice or battery to get them to their next stop,” Marin-Urrea said.
The charging stations are located post security in Concourses D, E, F, G, H and J and pre-security in Concourse D and H international arrivals. See locations here.
Anyone needing a little more time or extra patience going through the TSA security checkpoints can request assistance through TSA Cares. The program helps travelers with disabilities, medical conditions and other special circumstances during the security screening process. Passenger Support Specialists can provide on-the-spot assistance.
Passengers with disabilities who want to practice what it's like to check into an airport and board a flight can apply for the MIA Airport Instruction and Readiness program known as MIAair. The program helps participants with disabilities prepare for future flights.
MIAair is a dress rehearsal program for passengers with disabilities that allows them to practice traveling through the airport in a controlled environment. The goal is to give passengers with special needs confidence before they fly. The program was developed in partnership with the University of Miami - Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities.
“The person with the disability would go through the whole process from checking in at the airline to going through security, to going into the terminal and getting on a plane,” Marin-Urrea said. “The plane doesn't move. It’s just so they have an idea what to expect.” Though the program was suspended during the COVID pandemic, Marin-Urrea said plans are to bring the program back twice a year.
Anyone ages 7 or older is eligible, including adults. Children must be accompanied by one parent or guardian. All participants will undergo a security background check to take part in the program.
For information or to book a tour, click here.
MIAair also offers online storyboards and narratives that can help passengers with special needs understand how flight travel works and what to expect at the airport. Caregiver information is available with tips for families traveling with someone on the autism spectrum. There is also a travel checklist for families with autism or other special needs. The information is available in both English and Spanish.
Wheelchair accessible public transportation is available through MIA Mover, Metrorail and all Miami-Dade Transit buses.
Miami-Dade County also offers a Special Transportation Service, known as STS, for people with physical or mental disabilities that prevent them from independently using accessible public transportation, such as Metrobus, Metrorail or Metromover. The service is available 24/7 and offers door-to-door transportation throughout most of Miami-Dade County. Users must apply in advance and will be notified of eligibility by mail. For information on the program, visit here.
For information on wheelchair accessible taxi cab services, visit here.
If you have a question, stop by one of the information desks, email ADAcoordinator@miami-airport.com or call 305-876-7747.