I'm flying with Air Canada from Toronto to Fort Lauderdale arriving at 9:33 am, and the connecting flight with Spirit Airline departs at 11:30 am.

Do I have enough time to pick up luggage and go through customs?

  • Presumably there is a connecting flight from Fort Lauderdale. Please be clear as to the final destination, your nationality, and whether the journey is booked through on a single ticket. Oct 30, 2022 at 20:48
  • @WeatherVane Both Air Canada and Spirit serve Fort Lauderdale. Oct 30, 2022 at 21:02
  • @DavidSupportsMonica obviously. Otherwise how can OP transit there? Oct 30, 2022 at 21:04
  • 1
    @WeatherVane My fault for over-editing the title, which originally showed Barranquilla Colombia as the final destination. I rolled it back, sorry. Oct 30, 2022 at 21:05

1 Answer 1


(First, a note: Toronto is a US Preclearance Airport. Thus, you will encounter US Customs and Immigration officers within the Toronto Airport before boarding the Air Canada flight. If these US officials find you admissible into the US, you'll be allowed to board the Air Canada flight. If not, you will not be allowed to board the aircraft.)

TL;dr This is a complex connection with many steps. 2 hours is probably not enough time to do all the steps.

More detail:

Air Canada uses Terminal 2 at Fort Lauderdale / Hollywood Airport. Because the Air Canada passengers will have passed US Customs and Immigration in Toronto before the flight's departure to the US, the flight will arrive at Fort Lauderdale / Hollywood Airport as a within-the-US domestic arrival, with no Customs/Immigration formalities. Spirit Airlines uses Terminal 4.

Upon arrival in Fort Lauderdale, you'll have to:

  • Exit the plane. This can take time if you're seated at the back.
  • Walk through the terminal, and exit the secure area.
  • Find the luggage claim area, wait until your luggage appears, and claim it.
  • Carrying your luggage, leave Terminal 2 and get yourself to Terminal 4. You may walk, or walk and catch a shuttle bus. This might take 10 - 15 minutes.
  • If you do not have a printed or electronic boarding pass from Spirit Airlines for the flight to Colombia, walk to the Spirt Airlines counter and check in to obtain a boarding pass (for a fee). Drop your checked luggage with the Spirit Airlines clerk, or into the bag-drop receptacle, as appropriate.
  • After you receive a boarding pass (or, if you already have one), then find the security line in Terminal 4, wait in the security line, pass security, and then walk into Terminal 4 and find your departure gate. Wait times in security lines vary; today's times, for example, run from 5 to 30 minutes.

That's a lot to do, and you have to do all of it before Spirit's check-in and bag-drop and boarding deadlines. Spirit requires that your checked bags be dropped off (at the Spirit check-in counter or bag drop) 60 minutes before your scheduled flight departure. Thus, you have to accomplish the first five bullet points above before 10:30 a.m.

The problem with a self-transfer is that if you are too late for and miss the second flight, Spirit Airways is not required to get you to Colombia, or to take care of you at all. As far as Spirit is concerned, you're starting your journey at Fort Lauderdale and just didn't show up. Then you'd be faced with buying a new ticket to get to Colombia (which at the last minute is apt to be much more expensive than the ticket you bought before) as well as paying for your hotel room and meals while you wait for the new Colombia flight. Spirit flies Fort Lauderdale > Barranquilla only once a day.

With the flight details you've provided, you might be able to do these things if everything goes perfectly. But if anything goes wrong, you won't make the check-in deadline. The Air Canada flight might be delayed at departure, or delayed being allowed to taxi to a gate after arriving at Fort Lauderdale, or the line at the Spirit counter could be long, or the security line at Terminal 4 could be unusually long, or...or...

This self-connection is very short. I would not attempt it.

  • 1
    Also note that Spirit Airlines is a bare-bones, no-frills airline and as such barely helps its customers even when they're obliged to. I would definitely not expect them to take pity on you if they don't have to (i.e., if you end up checking in late in Fort Lauderdale for whatever reason.) Oct 31, 2022 at 17:37

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