How Early Should You REALLY Get To Orlando Airport (MCO)?

This is the part of your Walt Disney World trip that no one wants to plan.

A Magical Flight

After a memorable, but likely exhausting, vacation, it’s time to return to the Orlando International Airport (MCO) to travel back home. And we get it — returning flights just aren’t fun.

We know how difficult it is to leave the Happiest Place on Earth in order to get to the airport for your departing flight.  So, before you even get to your last day of vacation, we think planning ahead will help the stress of departure day.

Orlando International Airport

We’re here to help your family travel back to the real world. So, let’s take a look at some Orlando Airport details!

Orlando International Airport (MCO)

Fifty million passengers use the Orlando airport each year. In fact, around 173,000 people recently passed through the airport during a busy spring break weekend!

With all those people arriving and departing, how early do you really need to get to the airport?

Orlando International Airport Terminal C

First, you’ll want to check directly with your airline for the most up-to-date recommendations. Know that the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority suggests arriving three hours prior to your scheduled departure time. (Don’t forget to double-check for delays and cancellations prior to leaving for the airport.)

Why three hours?

Orlando International Airport crowds in January

This airport is so busy that many mishaps can occur on your departure day. The extra time allows for long lines to check in your bags, get your boarding pass, go through security, and take the airport monorail (People Mover) to your gate.

You’ll want to give yourselves time to complete all of these tasks so that you don’t miss your flight. And we all know that airports can experience technical difficulties, mechanical issues, and staffing shortages.

Also, don’t forget to plan on time to get gas and return your car rental (if applicable)!

The CHEAPEST Way to Get To Disney World From the Orlando Airport

We also suggest using Orlando International Airport’s FREE MCO Reserve, which lets you go online and book a scheduled time to go through an exclusive security lane. This is offered at the airport for flights scheduled from 6:30AM to 8:30PM. You do need to reserve your spot 72 hours before your flight, though.

Magic of Disney Store at Orlando Airport

Yes, having MCO Reserve, TSA precheck, or global entry can help give you even more peace of mind, but we still recommend the full 3-hour buffer!

 And hey, if for some reason you DO get through security quickly, that leaves you plenty of time to grab something to eat and relax before you board your flight. Note that the Orlando Airport has an app that features a TON of helpful information, tips, and tricks.

We’re always looking out for ways to make your travel just a bit easier, so make sure to follow along for more Disney-related news, reviews, and updates!

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Travel Updates, Tips, and Tricks

Do you have any Orlando Airport (MCO) tips to share? We want to hear from our readers!

The post How Early Should You REALLY Get To Orlando Airport (MCO)? first appeared on the disney food blog.


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