Orlando International Airport expecting record 3 million passengers over the holidays

The holiday travel rush is underway at Orlando International Airport (OIA) where they expect to see more passengers than ever before.

This year is expected to be one of the busiest as millions are expected to pass through the gates at OIA. The airport anticipates more than 3 million passengers over the 21-day holiday period that covers Christmas and New Years. The holiday travel stretch began Friday and ends Jan. 9.

 Airport officials say they could see a 6-percent increase in traffic over last year’s previous record.

“With what is predicted to be record holiday travel, Orlando International stands ready to welcome more than 3 million seasonal passengers with enhanced staffing, new customer services and a renewed focus on world-class amenities,” says Phil Brown, Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. 

So how busy will the airport be? Officials say that Sunday, Dec. 29 will be their busiest day with more than 174,000 passengers coming through.

Airport workers are trying to make getting through the gates a little easier to handle. Southwest allowed their employees to dress up in the spirit of the season -- one of them even came to work as a giant pink bunny from the classic 'A Christmas Story.'

“Patience it’s always good, just keep it and you’ll get through it,” she said.

To make sure you get to where you need to be on time, OIA is asking travelers to arrive for their domestic flights at least 2 hours early. For international flights, 3 hours ahead of time is recommended.

If you are bringing Christmas gifts with you, the airport says do not wrap them because they will be subject to search by TSA agents.

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