Orlando airport gearing up for the busiest travel weekend of the holiday season

Orlando International Airport is gearing up for an extremely busy travel weekend with more than 500,000 passengers expected to fly in and out of the airport.

Airport officials say the busiest travel day of the holiday season is expected to be Sunday, Dec. 29 with more than 174,000 passengers passing through their gates as people head home after Christmas.

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More than 163,000 and 168,000 people are expected to travel through the airport on Friday, Dec. 27 and Dec. 28, respectively.

Airport officials encourage passengers to pack their patience and arrive at the airport at least two hours before their domestic flight is scheduled to leave and at least three hours before their international flight is scheduled to leave. 

With nearly 3.2 million passengers expected, it could set a new record number for the Christmas/New Year’s travel season over the 21-day holiday travel period. The airport expects to see a six percent increase in traffic over last year’s previous record during the holiday travel period which runs from Dec. 20 until Jan. 9.

Traffic around the airport should be expected too, as cars were bumper to bumper on Thursday as people came to pick up and drop off their loved ones. Remember to use cell lots if you are waiting for someone to arrive. An official with the airport told FOX 35 News that "just because they called you and are getting off the plane, doesn't mean they're going to be on the curb in five minutes. It takes a little time to get everyone back to the terminal and then to get the bags here."

Orlando International Airport offered the following tips to help make your travel go more smoothly:

  • Do NOT bring weapons. Firearms are only allowed in checked luggage and must be unloaded and placed in special travel containers
  • Use the FREE cell phone lots when picking up passengers. Simply wait in the cell lot until your party calls you after they retrieve their luggage
  • Remember the “C” parking garage is open
  • 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
  • If traveling with a comfort pet please check with your individual airline in advance to learn their specific rules for traveling with various types of animals
  • Pack as lightly as possible
  • Wear easily removable shoes
  • Do NOT make light-hearted jokes about security or secure situations
  • Please pack your patience! Keep in mind, you are traveling with 3.2 million other passengers at MCO this holiday season