If you’re planning a holiday in the theme park capital of the world, you’re probably keen to find some cheap flights to Orlando. Lots of airlines fly from the UK to Orlando, but did you know there’s more than one Orlando airport to choose from? To help you decide on the best option, we’ve rounded up some useful tips and info on Orlando International and Sanford International – take a look.
Orlando International Airport
With 50 million passengers passing through its doors every year, Orlando International Airport (MCO) is Florida’s busiest airport. But getting around is very straightforward. Everything is in the Main Terminal, which is split into two areas – Side A on the northern half of the building, and Side B on the southern half – and each airline has its own area. You’ll find Aer Lingus, Emirates and Virgin Atlantic on Side A, while American Airlines, British Airways, Delta and United use Side B.
Once you’ve dropped off your bags and gone through security, you’ll enter the food court in heart of the terminal. All the bars and restaurants here are accessible from both Side A and Side B.
A second terminal at Orlando International Airport is currently being built, and expected to open in 2022.
Shopping and dining
The airport’s food court has all kinds of restaurants, including American favourites like Chipotle, McDonalds, Outback Steakhouse and Taco Locos – and, of course, a trio of Starbucks cafés. There are several bars and pubs, too, if you fancy a pre-flight tipple. Or you could make your way to one of the airline lounges, such as Delta Sky Club or United Club.
If you want to spend the last of your US dollars before heading home, there are plenty of shops in Orlando Airport, selling everything from beauty products to clothes to Disney® souvenirs.
Getting into Orlando
Orlando International is in a fantastic location, just six miles southeast of Downtown – so, if convenience is important to you, this is the best Orlando airport for you to fly to. Getting into the city from MCO couldn’t be easier. But, before you arrange any transport, remember to check whether your hotel offers a complimentary airport shuttle, as this is pretty common in Orlando.
If your hotel doesn’t offer a shuttle service, don’t worry. A taxi to Downtown Orlando or International Drive – where most hotels are – takes just 20 minutes and will cost about $40. Other popular areas like Kissimmee and Lake Buena Vista are slightly further away, so a taxi will cost between $50 and $70. Travelling on a budget? There are loads of buses into Orlando and a ticket will only set you back $2 per person.
If you’re hiring a car in Orlando, simply follow the airport signs to your rental desk – companies like Avis, Budget and Payless are all based inside the terminal.
Thanks to the airport’s close proximity to Orlando, it’s unlikely you’ll need an airport hotel – even if you are flying very early or very late. But, if you do want to stay close by, take a look at Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport. It’s right inside the airport terminal, so you couldn’t be nearer if you tried!
Sanford International Airport
Our second Orlando airport isn’t actually in Orlando. As the name suggests, Sanford International Airport (SFB) is in Sanford, 30 miles away. This lesser-known airport is much smaller than Orlando International, with about 3.5 million passengers flying in and out each year. Sanford International has just one terminal building but, thanks to its lower capacity, you can generally look forward to short queues and speedy service.
Most airlines operating here are domestic, but you can fly to Sanford with TUI Airways – direct flights are available from a number of UK airports, including London Gatwick, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow.
Shopping and dining
You’ll find a range of eateries at Sanford International. If you’re hungry, grab a bite at one of the casual places serving classic American fare. Or, if you just fancy a snack, head to Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks or Budweiser Tap Room. There’s a handful of gift shops and duty free shops, too.
Getting into Orlando
As we’ve mentioned, Sanford International is just outside Orlando – but getting into the city is pretty simple. A 40-minute taxi to the Downtown area will cost between $60 and $80, depending on where you’re staying. Taxi apps like Uber and Lyft are also available, if you want a cheaper deal. Alternatively, if you’re renting a car, you’ll find places like Alamo, Avis, Hertz and Enterprise all have information desks within the terminal.
If you’re catching a red-eye flight, consider staying at a hotel near your Orlando airport the night before. There are several great-value hotels nearby, including Best Western Plus Sanford Airport and a Budget Inn Sanford International.