Because the Miami and Ft Lauderdale airports are 29 miles apart it is common for people to fly into one city, even though their hotel is closer to the other airport. Why? There tend to be two reasons: to save money and/or earn loyalty miles/points with their airline of choice.
For example, Southwest Airlines only flies into Ft Lauderdale. Folks looking to build their Rapid Rewards points with Southwest want to fly into Ft Lauderdale, even if their end destination is Miami.
But is it worth it? I have done this on purpose in the past just for the first hand experience. Recently I had a conference in Miami, approximately 10 miles from the Miami airport. I got a killer price on Southwest Airlines so I decided to fly into Ft Lauderdale.
Once I landed, my options for getting to the Miami hotel included a shuttle service (like GoShuttle or Super Shuttle), a private car service (can we say $$$?), Lyft or Uber, or the Tri-Rail service. Because I landed late at night, I decided to skip the Tri-Rail and took Lyft from the Ft Lauderdale airport to my Miami hotel. It was convenient door to door service with no other stops (like you can be subjected to with a shared shuttle service), but it was not cheap ($55 before adding a tip), and took about 30 minutes.
After the conference, I decided to use the Tri-Rail service. it is not for the faint of heart, and not necessarily the most efficient or convenient way to transfer between the two airports, but it's more reasonably priced. I arranged for Super Shuttle to take me from the hotel to the Miami airport where I had to make my way to the train station at the airport. I then took the Tri-Ral train to Ft Lauderdale. Once I got there I had to take a complimentary bus to get from the station to the airport terminal. It was fairly inexpensive with $24 for the Miami shuttle and $3.75 for the Tri-Rail. From the time I left the Miami hotel to the time I stepped inside the Ft Lauderdale airport terminal it took 2 1/2 hours.
When you're planning to your next trip to the greater Miami - Ft Lauderdale area, you should ask yourself some questions:
Crunch your numbers and see if that "lower airfare" is really saving you money once you factor in the costs of a shuttle or other transportation to your hotel. Also consider what your time is worth to you. Are you okay spending 2 1/2 hours of your time between the airport and your hotel? Or would you rather spend only 30-45 minutes (assuming no unexpected traffic delays of course)?
Just because the two airports are relatively close doesn't mean they are interchangeable. Time and convenience need to be balanced with cost in order to pick which airport best fits YOUR needs.
Also, this isn't unique to the Ft Lauderdale and Miami airports. There are many areas with multiple airports, and they aren't always logistically interchangeable. Just a few examples are Chicago (O'hare and Midway), New York (LaGuardia, JFK and Newark), London (Heathrow and Gatwick), and the San Francisco Bay Area (San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland).
At Ships 'N' Trips Travel we have been providing memorable travel experiences for our clients since 2005.