My family is one of the almost 30 million people who will fly over the Thanksgiving holiday. As one of the most traveled holidays of the year, we’re bracing for busy airports and crowds. MCO is no exception!
We’ve traveled with our boys since they were babies, so I’d like to think that at five and seven they are good little flyers. We have a pretty solid airport routine. However, I often find myself fielding questions from family and friends who are flying in and out of Orlando, aka MCO (named after the former McCoy Air Force Base on which the airport now stands.)
Orlando is an international airport and is one of the top ten busiest in the country. Because it is so large and busy, it pays to be prepared.
Here are my top five tips for traveling through Orlando Airport with kids.
1. Download the airport app
Consider downloading the MCO airport app (apple + android) in advance. The app has great maps for both parking at the airport and navigating the terminals, and even includes flight tracking and security line wait times.
2. Know where to go
The airport has three terminals, aptly named Terminals A, B, and C. You’ll want to know which terminal your airline departs from and your gate. That gatepiece is key, my friends.
There are four trams that bring you from security to your gate and once you enter a terminal, you can’t go to another without coming back out and going through security again. So double and triple-check you’re getting on the right tram and heading to the right gate, or you’ll waste a whole lot of time (speaking from experience!).
It’s important to note that Terminal C is not walkable from A and B, though there is a tram.
3. TSA PreCheck and CLEAR are your BFFs
I don’t know how people travel without TSA PreCheck® and CLEAR, especially at Orlando airport. The TSA lines can get pretty outrageous, so getting PreCheck and CLEAR locked and loaded before your trip is a must. Even with kids in tow, we can usually sail through security in under 10 minutes, five on a good day.
If you don’t have TSA Pre or CLEAR, check out MCO Reserve, which is powered by CLEAR. It’s open from 5:00 am – 5:00 pm and available to people whose flights depart between 6:30 am – 6:30 pm.
4. Restaurants and amenities
There are tons of great restaurants and shops throughout Orlando Airport, both before and after security. Depending on your terminal, you can hit Starbucks, Cinnabon, Chick-Fil-A, or Macaroni Grill (see a list here)
Between you and I, Terminal C is where it’s at with Wine Bar George, Shake Shack and other tasty spots!
There are also specialty shops for Universal, SeaWorld Orlando, and Disney World — all great stops to make if you have the time or need to pick up a souvenir to bring home.
5. A hotel, IN the airport?
That’s right! The Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport is located in the center of the airport between Terminals A and B — perfect for when you have an early morning flight! The hotel has an outdoor pool, two award-winning restaurants, and rooms with runway views. It really can’t get much more convenient than that!
A bonus tip for nursing moms!
I have many memories pumping in bathroom stalls and nursing babies at busy airport gates (ugh!), so I thought I’d leave you with one more tip: Orlando Airport has its nursing moms covered with many options! There are nursing rooms located throughout each terminal along with Mamava nursing pods available for use.
No matter where your Thanksgiving plans take you this year, we hope it’s a happy and healthy weekend for you and your family!
These are just a few quick tips. Tell us in the comments, what’s your favorite tip for traveling through MCO?