We are Australian and are going from New Orleans to Bogotá, with a layover at FLL (Fort Lauderdale Airport, Florida). We are flying Spirit Airlines.

From what I can see, Spirit Airlines is all from Terminal 4 there. On the day we’re going there’s an option with a 1 hour layover and one with a 5 hour layover. 5 hours seems like way more than we’d need but we’re concerned that 1 hour may not be enough to transfer bags and go through security etc. Any insight on this would be helpful. We’ve never been to the U.S. so have no idea.

  • 1
    I can't say exactly, but it is likely that you'll pass through security at New Orleans and skip anything at FLL. The last time I flew to Oz I passed security in Virginia, had a layover in Chicago, and was dropped behind security in LAX. Only had to show my passport when boarding flight to MEL
    – Peter M
    Jul 14, 2022 at 3:00

3 Answers 3


Presuming you are booking the entire trip on a single ticket (ie, both flights bought together at the same time) then there will be no need to pass through either immigration, customs, security, or to collect your bags at Fort Lauderdale (FLL).

The US does not have physical immigration controls when departing the country, and domestic and international departures occur from within the same terminals with no general need to clear security between them. Your bags will be checked through to their final destination.

You haven't mentioned the exact flights you're on, but I'm guessing it might be NK680 connecting to NK807. As an example, today NK680 arrived into terminal 4, gate F2 at FLL. NK807 departed from terminal 4, gate F8. These two gates are maybe 30 metres apart.

Any 1 hour connection always has an element of risk - a delay for any reason on your inbound flight can result in you missing the connection, but this is likely as safe as a 1 hour connection can be. (Well, other than the fact it's Spirit, of course...)

This is NOT the case on the return flight where you will need to pass through immigration, customs, as well as collect/re-check bags, so if you're planning a similar itinerary on the return you'll need to allow sufficient time to do that.

  • 1
    especially in these COVID days a 1hr connection might be asking for trouble. Jul 15, 2022 at 13:56

As @Doc says, there are likely to be no security concerns on the outgoing flight. However in my experience (not Spirit & not at FLL) the international flight often starts boarding 45 mins before departure, which would be 15 mins after you land if you land on time. Given that deplaning your incoming flight can easily take 10-15 mins depending on where you are sitting on both flights you might still be on the domestic aircraft at the first point you could board the international.

So the things I'd consider are

  • a) how anxious are you likely to be if the plane is a few minutes late, or even just when waiting to deplane and the person in front is being slow?
  • b) do you grab a small bag & move quickly yourself between planes, or are you (or a travel companion) one who needs to take time, sort out bags, walk slowly?
  • c) do you want any time to stretch your legs, visit a restroom, get some food between flights?
  • d) what are the consequences if you miss the flight & how would you feel about it? Is there another flight later? Would you shrug your shoulders or would you feel like you have lost a large part of your trip?

I read this post prior to flying from San Salvador to LGA, with a connection in FLL. I'd like to update based on what I saw myself in September 2022.

This is the LEAST ORDERLY airport i've seen anywhere in my life, perhaps outside of Karachi, Pakistan Arrivals.

I had 2 hours, 20 minutes to make my connecting flight and I had no checked bags, and I got lucky on numerous occasions with new security lines opening up in front of me, but I still JUST made it to the gate in time to board.

Step 1- Get off plane and make it through Customs -(30 minutes) If you have checked bags, you'll need to wait for them and pick them up and then get on way in the back of the Customs line. My guess is this adds at least 30 minutes.
-(60 minutes) I had no checked bags so I immediately got on the Customs line and stood there for about 60 minutes before I got to see an Officer. -(20 minutes) If you are selected for screening of your bags, add another 20 minutes. I was not selected. -(20 minutes) If you have checked bags, you'll need to recheck them right after getting out of Customs, downstairs, so add 20 minutes for that.

Step 2 - Go upstairs to go through TSA Security again -(30-90 minutes depending on your morality) You now have to go through the least orderly process, rife for abuse. Once complete with Customs, go back up to the main entrance. In my case in Sep 2022, around 9AM, the line was so long that it went all the way outside the airport for another 100m, nearly to the next terminal. Here, folks being dropped off in taxis and buses, and cars simply joined the line (mob) wherever they felt most convenient. Others simply walked past the line and joined the middle of the line once it was inside the airport. The reason for this abuse is b/c airport security does not concern themselves with anything going on outside the airport. It's like a post-apocalyptic zombie land, with absolutely no guidelines or police, and thus, fully open for abuse. What I saw when I joined the back of the line was a line that didn't move for 30 minutes as people walk up to the front yelling things like "Awww helllz no" and "Psssh NOPE" and random people just smile at another random person in front of the line and simply join in. I saw no fights because no one wants to miss a flight and end up on youtube, I suppose.

Once you make it INSIDE the airport, the line through TSA security is relatively fast because people can't skip you, and it's a short space.

I'm a single male traveler traveling with a backpack and I did everything as quickly as possible, and was also not selected for additional screening. It took me 2 hours and 20 minutes to make it to my next flight. If you have a baby or child, difficulty walking, lots of bags, etc, you should probably set aside 3-4 hours for a connection through FLL.

  • This would be an issue for Bogota --> FFL --> NO, but not the other way around. OP shouldn't need to go through customs, security, or handle bags at FFL in the direction they're traveling.
    – ceejayoz
    Sep 9, 2022 at 12:16

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