Holiday travel is about to be in full swing as the ‘Christmas weekend approaches, and the Orlando International Airport is ready to handle the high numbers! The Orlando International Airport (MCO) is preparing for the record crowds this holiday season with enhanced parking amenities and additional ambassadors on hand to offer passenger assistance during peak times throughout the airport complex.

Nearly 3.9 million passengers are expected during the 23-day Christmas/New Year’s travel period nationally, a 13.5 % increase over last year.

“The holiday season is a joyous time of year, and our staff is focused on providing passengers with a frictionless journey,” says Kevin J. Thibault, Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. “We ask that passengers help the process by following our 3-2-1 guidelines upon arrival at the airport and by practicing patience throughout their travels. With this, we are confident our systems will meet the record demand at Orlando International.” 

A new surface parking lot will open on Friday, following the opening of two lots during the Thanksgiving travel season. The three surface lots are accessible with E-Pass and SunPass Plus. SunPass customers must be enrolled with Easy Pay, and a transponder must be used to enter and exit the lots. In total, MCO has more than 2,000 new spaces on airport property compared to last year. 

OIA Holiday Travel Dates

For those passengers using a rideshare, additional amenities are being provided so that ample drivers are onsite ready to assist passengers. Passengers may also note an increase in the number of ambassadors during peak times and may want to take advantage of one of the dozens of concession shops open on Christmas Eve until 9 p.m. and on Christmas Day from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The 3-2-1 guidelines are as follows:

  • Passengers should be at the airport ticket counter 3 hours before their flight (this allows extra time for parking and busy ticket counters)
  • At the security checkpoint 2 hours prior
  • And at the gate 1 hour before departure

Due to the placement of Christmas Day and New Years Day on a Monday, the holiday travel period stretches from December 16th through January 7th. Saturday, December 30th is projected to be the busiest day of the season with 187,000 total passengers.

Additional Holiday Travel Tips at MCO:

  • 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 our website at You can also follow us 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.
  • 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.