My 9 year old son and I have British passports, and my husband Spanish. We have a 19 hour layover in Miami when flying from Madrid to Colombia, and intend to leave the airport and stay overnight in a hotel preferably just with our hand baggage. First question: do we need any kind of visa before we fly, and indeed are we allowed out of the airport (sure hope so...!). Second, will luggage be checked all the way through to Colombia or will we need to recheck? (Flying with American Airlines). We hope to do a quick trip to South Beach to check it out! Thanks!

  • I have seen something about an ESTA, will we need this? Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 23:23
  • 2
    For your first question, see Do I need a US visa to change planes in an American airport? Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 23:35
  • For your second question, your airline will be able to advise you of whether they will check your bag through, but in any case you have to carry it through US Customs and drop it off again at a special drop-off just past the customs hall. Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 23:36

2 Answers 2


You do not need a real visa as Spanish and British passport holder but you need an ESTA which is basically a simplified electronic visa offered to a number of countries part of the visa waiver program.

For the layover is Miami, you will receive your bags and have to check them back in. Depending on your arrival time, you may be able to do this right away instead of taking them with you, as long as you have completed the check-in for the last leg of your flight.

Just 3 days ago, I did a similar path via Miami on American but to Ecuador instead of Colombia. I was in Colombia 3 weeks before though, it's very similar as long as you go via Miami. Every time, I had to get my bags and check them back in.


I am not certain about American (as I don't fly them), but with other US based carriers, Delta and United, if your layover is more than 12 hours overnight you have to claim and keep your bags, then recheck them the next day. They will not keep the bags for extended periods (they lay the reason as security).

I would call American direct and ask what their policy is. Then you can plan your lodging and such. Your hotel in Miami maybe able to hold the bags for you while you run to South Beach.

Personally I would rather have my bags with me, then laying around on a bag cart at MIA for the night.

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