Navigating Orlando Airport Arrivals And Departures

Orlando airport arrivals can be overwhelming for those visiting the city for the first time. The number of travelers passing through Orlando makes it one of the most visited cities in the country and one of the busiest airports.

This is not surprising given that Orlando is home to major theme parks that have been drawing throngs of people for years. That said, if you’re planning on a trip to Orlando, whether you are traveling from another country, from another state, or another Florida city, knowing all there is to know about Orlando International Airport can help you manage the normal stress of travel.

What You Need to Know About Orlando International Airport

The Orlando International Airport, with an airport code of MCO which stands as McCoy Air Force Base, is the main public airport situated six miles southeast from Downtown Orlando and is considered to be one of the busiest airports in Florida. It handled over 47 million passengers last year! We want to help you navigate MCO easily and stress-free. 

This airport is the hub for Silver Airways, Frontier Airlines, Southwest Airlines, JetBlue, as well as Spirit Airlines. Orlando International Airport MCO is also considered a major international gateway, with more than 850 flights each day. MCO is about a 20-minute ride to Disney and other attractions.

Orlando International is not the only airport to service Orlando and if you’re not comfortable with a large hub like this, there may be other options, depending upon where you are traveling from. Orlando Sanford International Airport serves the Greater Orlando area,  with other nearby airports such as Daytona Beach International Airport, Tampa International Airport, St. Pete- Clearwater International Airport, and Orlando Melbourne International Airport serving the rest of the state indirectly[1].

Security at the Airport

Orlando International Airport is one of the busiest in the country, with the lines in each terminal tending to get long, particularly during peak season. This is because of the amount of traffic and the tight security measures that they, like most US airports have in place. You’ll breeze through upon our arrival, but you’ll want to plan carefully for your departure. Don’t worry, the security personnel here are all friendly and are quite efficient in their job. But a good stress-reliever is to arrive as much as 3 hours prior to your flight. There’s plenty of shopping and dining opportunities in the airport to keep everyone busy pre-flight.

For our Non-US Citizen Arrivals

If you’re a Non-US Citizen,  you will need a properly filled out I95 form which you will need to present to the Security Officer at the Border Checkpoint. If you have a US visa, this form will be given to you along with your Visa petition. On the other hand, if you receive your documents on the plane, make sure that you’ve filled it out properly. Otherwise, you may be heading to the back of the long line upon arriving in Orlando International Airport[2].

Orlando International Airport Arrivals Info

Domestic passengers arrive in the gate area in an Airside Terminal which is separate from the Main Terminal. Follow the signage for Shuttle to Main Terminal and Baggage. The Automated People Mover is quiet and efficient and runs very frequently.  Listen to the announcements and watch signage for Baggage Claim A or B. You’ll arrive on Level 3 of the Main Terminal. Upon arrival on Level 3, look for letters indicating A or B sides. Take the elevator, escalator or stairs to Level 1 or Level 2 for baggage claim and ground transportation. (Check the monitors for your carousel.) Private car and rideshare services pickups are curbside on Arrivals/Baggage Claim Level 2. Rental Cars, Shuttles, Taxies, Van, Resort Transportation and Buses are on Ground Transportation Level 1.

Download an arrivals guide from orlandoairports.net Download the Orlando MCO Airport app for simple in-terminal navigation. When you’re inflight, take time to check out the map of Orlando airport in your inflight magazine.  Listen carefully for your arrival gate so you’ll know where to head. The transportation system in MCO is clean, quiet and convenient, and run frequently, so don’t worry if you miss one. They arrive every few minutes.  Knowing where you will be arriving or departing in Orlando can help you plan out your trip here with ease. 

Disney’s Magical Express

If you’re at  Orlando International Airport Arrivals and a guest of a Disney Resort Hotel, you’ll be happy to know that there is a complimentary shuttle service available at the airport which will take you to the resort easily. 

The Magical Express is found at the Main Terminal Building on Side B and level 1 on the Ground Transportation area. All you have to do is to keep walking and follow the signs because they will direct you to where the shuttle service is found. From your gate, you can take the train to arrive on Level 3 of the Main Terminal then make your way to Side B. Use the elevator or escalator to reach Level 1. You should stop at Level 2 if you have any checked baggage. Disney will even retrieve your luggage for you. They will provide you with special luggage tags to ensure that you’ll get your things right at your hotel. 

Car Rentals, Ride Share And Other Transportation Options And Orlando Airport Pickups

Since Orlando International Airport receives hundreds of thousands of passengers on a regular basis, it means that it’s a very high-traffic airport. That said, if you are planning on renting a car, it’s very important that you book ahead of time, or you may just find yourself without a rental car. The rental car companies in the airport are located on both A and B sides of the terminal on the first level. Keep an eye out for signs to ground transportation to find the various car rental companies like Alamo, Avis, Enterprise, Hertz, Thrifty, and others. 

There is usually a fee for pickup and drop-off at the airport if you plan on hiring Uber or Lyft. Do check out any deals available before confirming your booking. Their mobile app is quite helpful too as it maps out the airport which makes it easier for you to find your ride[3].

Taxis are located outside level 1 in the ground transportation which is located below the Baggage Claim. You’ll find taxis here that can carry up to 9 passengers without charging extra. The usual fare is $35 to downtown Orlando and $55 if you are heading to Walt Disney World. Buses are also located within the same area with routes throughout the city at very affordable rates. 

If you are expecting a friend for your Orlando Airport arrivals pick up, head directly to baggage claim first, located on the second level where you can retrieve your things from Baggage Claim 1 or 2. Your ride can park in the Cell Phone Lot on the South access road to wait for your call to be picked up just outside the baggage claim once you have your luggage[4].

Helpful Tips For Orlando Airport Arrivals And Departures

The beauty of Orlando International Airport is the fact that it is easy to navigate, with plenty of signs to direct you to where you are going. However, there are a few tips that you might want to consider for arrival and departure at the airport such as: 

Security checkpoint lines can be long

Even if you’re an experienced traveler, you may find yourself waiting in long lines just to get through the security checkpoint at the airport. A good suggestion here is to leave early in the morning or late in the afternoon where the line tends to be more bearable. And if you can work out TSA pre-check, it is well worth the expense, especially if traveling with little ones. 

Bring your headphone

For those who will be arriving or departing at MCO, you may want to bring your headphones with you.  You’ll likely be traveling with lots of kids who won’t be able to contain their Disney World excite

Bring a book

Thunderstorms in Orlando are quite common and may cause your flight to get delayed in landing or departure. Be sure to bring something to entertain you in case your flight is delayed, or you can’t disembark your plane immediately upon arrival.

Take advantage of rental-car companies

If you’re arriving at Orlando International Airport, skip the shuttle service and book a rental car. This way, you will be free to drive yourself anywhere you want. 

Arrive early

A good rule of thumb if departing from Orlando International Airport is to arrive three hours before your flight. This way, you won’t be thrown by long TSA lines, and can casually find your way to your terminal.

Terminal top parking

If you wish to park your car at the airport before you travel, choose the terminal top parking for long-term parking. Not only is there plenty of space available, but you can also do some last-minute shopping here or even have a bite to eat before your flight[5].

Orlando International Airport Or Orlando Sanford Airport?

For those who will be flying in or out of  Orlando, you may be arriving or departing from Orlando International Airport or Orlando Sanford International Airport. The question is, what’s the difference? 

Orlando International Airport MCO

This airport is conveniently located near downtown Orlando and is actually the busiest airport in the whole of Florida. You’ll find hundreds of convenient domestic and international flights here. 

Orlando Sanford International Airport SFB

Although it is much smaller compared to MCO, Orlando Sanford International Airport is the secondary airport in the area. Located 35 minutes from Orlando, it is much easier to navigate and has a shuttle to Orlando. The flights are of course, much more limited.\

Orlando Airport Arrivals Resources:

[1] Wikipedia; Orlando International Airport, October 15, 2019.
[2] Orlando Informer; Orlando International Airport, 2019.
[3] Fly into Fun Sweepstakes; Insider's Guide to the Orlando International Airport, Mommy Frog, March 6, 2018.
[4] Orlando Airport Guide: Orlando Airport- All information on Orlando Airport (MCO), 2019.
[5] The Wall Street Journal; Orlando International Airport: Insiders' Tips for Flights to and From MCO, November 14, 2018.