There’s no doubt about it; traveling can be an exciting and deeply rewarding experience! However, it can also be daunting and perhaps even stressful, especially when it comes to navigating through large and unfamiliar airports.
One of the busiest airports in the United States just so happens to be Orlando International Airport (MCO). This sprawling transport hub serves as a gateway to the magic and excitement of Central Florida and beyond but it also connects travellers to all kinds of thrilling and far-flung destinations.
Whether you’re flying off on business or pleasure, this ultimate guide will provide you with essential tips for a smooth departure from Orlando International Airport.
1. Arrive Early
Arriving early is the golden rule of stress-free air travel. Orlando International Airport can get extremely busy, especially during peak travel seasons and holidays.
To avoid last-minute rushes and long queues at security checkpoints, plan to arrive at least two hours before your domestic flight and three hours before your international departure. This extra time ensures you have ample opportunity to check-in, clear security, and find your gate with ease.
2. Utilize Online Check-In
Save time at the airport by utilizing online check-in services offered by most airlines. Online check-in is particularly helpful. This virtual service allows you to choose your preferred seats, print your boarding pass, or even have it sent to your mobile device.
Some airlines may also offer early check-in options. This option can be advantageous if you have a tight schedule.
3. Check TSA Requirements
Before you start packing your bags, it’s important to double-check what you can take with you! Review the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) guidelines for carry-on and checked baggage.
This step will prevent delays caused by prohibited items or oversized liquids. Familiarize yourself with the 3-1-1 rule for liquids in carry-on bags, and remember to pack your toiletries in a clear, quart-sized plastic bag.
4. Consider TSA PreCheck
If you’re a frequent traveller, it might be worth considering TSA PreCheck. This program allows eligible passengers to go through expedited security screenings, reducing wait times significantly.
Keep in mind that TSA PreCheck is only available at certain checkpoints, so check the airport’s website for more details.
5. Pack Entertainment and Snacks
Long layovers or delays can be tiresome, especially if you’re traveling with children. Pack some entertainment, such as books, magazines, or electronic devices, to keep yourself occupied during waiting periods.
Additionally, bring along some snacks or purchase them from the airport shops to stay energized throughout your journey.
6. Explore Airport Amenities
Orlando International Airport offers various amenities to make your time there more enjoyable. If you have time to spare before your flight, take advantage of services like lounges, charging stations, and free Wi-Fi.
The airport also boasts a diverse selection of dining options, from fast food to sit-down restaurants, so you can enjoy a delicious meal before you depart.
7. Shop Duty-Free
If you’re an international traveller, don’t forget to explore the duty-free shops. Duty-free shopping allows you to buy certain items without paying taxes or import duties, making it an excellent opportunity to purchase souvenirs or luxury goods at a lower price.
8. Consider Airport Transportation
Before your departure, plan how you’ll get to the airport. Orlando International Airport is well-connected with various ground transportation options, including shuttle services, taxis, ride-sharing apps, and rental cars.
If you are travelling to the airport with your own car and need somewhere to leave it while you’re gone, don’t hesitate to check out the wide variety of Orlando airport parking options provided by Rightway Parking.
9 Stay Informed About Flight Updates
Flights can be subject to delays or changes, so it’s essential to stay informed about any updates or alterations to your departure time. Most airlines offer real-time flight tracking on their websites or mobile apps. This handy feature enables you to receive notifications directly to your phone.
10. Mind The Weather
Central Florida weather has a tendency to be unpredictable – especially during the summer months when thunderstorms can be a frequent occurrence. Be prepared for potential weather-related disruptions and pack accordingly. Carry an umbrella and check the weather forecast for your destination to avoid any surprises upon arrival.
11. Be Mindful Of Security
While you’re at the airport, be vigilant about your belongings. Keep an eye on your luggage and personal items at all times to avoid theft or misplaced items. Additionally, be cautious when interacting with strangers and avoid sharing personal information.
12. Consider Airport Lounges
If you have access to airport lounges through your airline status, credit card perks, or lounge membership, take advantage of these exclusive spaces. Airport lounges offer a tranquil environment away from the bustling terminals, providing comfortable seating, complimentary snacks, beverages, and even sometimes shower facilities.
This serene atmosphere is sure to be extra-soothing during long layovers or when you need a moment to relax before your flight. Better yet, some lounges offer amenities like well-equipped business centers, allowing you to catch up on work or stay connected with loved ones.
13. Familiarize Yourself With The Airport Layout
Orlando International Airport is a particularly large facility. This can make navigating around it even more daunting – particularly if you’re in a hurry.
Before arriving at the airport, familiarize yourself with the layout and key points, such as security checkpoints, restrooms, and dining areas. This knowledge will help you navigate efficiently and avoid unnecessary stress.
You can find detailed airport maps on the official website or through various airport apps. Knowing the airport layout will also help you estimate the time it takes to reach your gate, so you won’t risk missing your flight due to long walking distances.
14. Plan For Ground Transportation Upon Arrival
While preparing for your departure from Orlando International Airport is crucial, don’t forget to consider your transportation needs upon arrival at your destination. Research and plan how you’ll get from the airport to your final destination, whether it’s a hotel, resort, or other accommodation.
By following these essential tips, you can ensure a smooth and stress-free departure from Orlando International Airport. From arriving early and utilizing online check-in to exploring airport amenities and staying informed about your flight, a little preparation and organization can make a significant difference in your travel experience.
At the end of the day, keep in mind that airports are bustling places. Maintaining a positive attitude and being respectful to airport staff and fellow travellers can also contribute to a more enjoyable journey. Bon voyage!
Ferona Jose is a passionate travel writer and blogger at Travelistia. She has traveled throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas. Her writing focuses on cheap travel destinations, travel experiences, cultural insights, and travel hacks.