Robust travel to Central Florida will make Orlando International Airport (MCO) one of the nation’s busiest holiday gateways this Thanksgiving season.
Local Orlando airport officials are offering passengers several accommodations and tips to help their journey go smoothly starting with this 3-2-1 advice: Passengers should be at the airport ticket counter 3 hours before their flight; at the checkpoint 2 hours before; and at the gate 1 hour before departure.
Over the course of the 12-day travel period, Orlando International will host more than two million passengers. That represents a 17 percent increase over 2022. The busiest day is expected to be the Saturday after Thanksgiving, when 186,668 travelers will pass through MCO.
The complete forecast can be found below:
At Tampa International Airport, officials are also ready for what is expected to be its busiest Thanksgiving travel ever, with an average of 80,000 passengers a day.
“The Aviation Authority and our airport partners are energized by the challenge of this year’s expected Thanksgiving holiday passenger surge, which solidifies our status as the nation’s premier visitor destination,” said Kevin Thibault, Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. “Orlando International is preparing for the increase and encourages passengers to follow the 3-2-1 timeline. Our security checkpoints will be fully staffed, additional parking has been added and seasoned professionals stand ready to provide assistance to enhance the customer experience.”
This year, there are approximately 2,000 more parking spaces available than last year, but parking rates have increased at the Orlando airport. Parking will be available at garages in Terminal A, Terminal B, Terminal C, the Terminal Top as well as remote lots, North Park Place and South Park Place. During extremely busy periods, West Park Place and an Overflow lot, which includes improvements such as temporary fencing and lights, will also be activated. Travelers seeking parking at MCO are advised to monitor the Orlando MCO App and website for the most up-to-date parking information.
Even with the additional spaces, parking may reach capacity. Passengers are asked to consider using a rideshare program, taxi service or have someone drop them off.
Additional Holiday Travel Tips from MCO officials:
- Be of good cheer. Record crowds may cause lines or delays throughout your journey.
- To receive the latest parking updates, download the Orlando MCO app, or visit the airport website. You can also follow on Twitter @MCO or Facebook @FlyMCO.
- Pack as lightly as possible and wear easily removable shoes.
- Consider the 3-2-1 passenger advice and adhere to the TSA 3-1-1 rule for gels and liquids at the security checkpoint.
- Do NOT bring guns or weapons through security. Check your bags for prohibited items before coming into the terminal.
- Do not arrive early to pick up a passenger. Have your party call you when they are ready for pickup from the curb, not before. If you arrive early, please wait in the cell phone lots or Travel Plaza at 10505 Jeff Fuqua Blvd.
- If we have reached parking capacity, please consider using a rideshare program or a taxi.
- Remember, enhanced screening rules mean electronics larger than a cell phone will need to be removed from your bag and placed in a bin at the checkpoint, unless you are in the TSA PreCheck program. But even TSA PreCheck and MCO Reserve passengers may be subject to additional screening.
- TAKE SECURITY SERIOUSLY! DO NOT MAKE JOKES OR LIGHT-HEARTED COMMENTS WHILE BEING PROCESSED FOR A FLIGHT.
- Do not leave bags or packages unattended or accept items from strangers for transport.
- Place identification tags on the outside and inside of checked and carry-on luggage.
- If traveling with a pet or comfort animal, bring a leash. The pet will need to be on a leash while the animal carrier is properly screened by the TSA.