Comparing and contrasting Orlando International Airport and Orlando Sanford International Airport
As a popular destination for travelers from around the world, Orlando, Florida is home to two major airports – Orlando International Airport (MCO) and Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB). When planning your next trip to The Most Magical Place on Earth, you may find low fares via airlines that only fly into SFB, and are curious as to what the differences are between SFB and MCO.
MCO and SFB differ in terms of size, location, amenities, airlines, and accessibility, each offering unique advantages and disadvantages depending on your travel needs. In this post, we will compare and contrast MCO and SFB to help make your airport choice a little bit easier.
Orlando International Airport (MCO) and Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) are two major airports in the Orlando metropolitan area. While both serve the same general region, there are several key differences between the two airports:
- Location: MCO is located about 10 miles southeast of downtown Orlando and ~ 20 miles away from Walt Disney World. SFB is located about 18 miles northeast of downtown Orlando and ~ 50 miles from Walt Disney World. Considering Orlando is an hour away from Orlando, 30 miles can add significant time to your commute to and from Walt Disney World resort depending on the time of day!
- Size: MCO is the busiest airport in Florida and the 10th busiest airport in the United States, handling over 50 million passengers per year. SFB is a much smaller airport that primarily serves low-cost carriers, handling just over 3 million passengers per year.
- Airlines and destinations: MCO is served by a wide variety of airlines, including major US carriers such as American, Delta, United, and Southwest, and offers non-stop flights to over 150 domestic and international destinations. SFB is primarily served by low-cost carriers such as Allegiant, Flair, Sun Country, and Swoop and offers non-stop flights to a smaller number of domestic and international destinations.
- Facilities: MCO has a larger number of amenities and facilities compared to SFB. For example, MCO has a wider variety of shops, restaurants, and lounges, as well as more parking options and ground transportation services. MCO also has a larger and more modern terminal building, with multiple concourses and a variety of amenities such as a spa, art displays, and live entertainment. SFB does offer shopping and dining options, with a handful of shops and dining locations available for passengers.
- Accessibility: Both airports are easily accessible from major highways, but MCO is more centrally located and therefore more convenient for travelers staying in or near downtown Orlando. SFB, on the other hand, may be more convenient for travelers staying in areas to the north or east of Orlando.
The closer proximity of MCO to Walt Disney World means that it may be a more convenient option for travelers visiting the theme parks or staying in the surrounding area. Additionally, there are numerous transportation options available from MCO to Walt Disney World, including rental cars, taxis, ride-sharing services, and shuttle services.
While it is possible to reach Walt Disney World from SFB, the longer distance and travel time may make it a less convenient option, particularly for travelers with limited time in the area. If you are looking to wrap up your vacation with a stay in the Sanford or Daytona Beach areas, SFB may be a more convenient option.
SFB is also serviced by low-cost air carriers that do not fly into MCO that are too attractive to pass up, even when factoring in the increased travel time to Walt Disney World. You will need to rent a car or book a private car service for your transfer from SFB to Walt Disney World, so be sure to factor in these costs when calculating the total trip cost.
SFB’s smaller size can also be an advantage for some travelers. Compared to the larger and busier Orlando International Airport (MCO), SFB is generally less crowded and easier to navigate. This can mean shorter lines, fewer crowds, and less stress. SFB also offers convenient and affordable parking options, including both covered and uncovered parking facilities located within walking distance of the terminal building. Lastly, due to the smaller size of the airport and fewer passengers passing through, security lines at SFB are typically shorter and move more quickly than at larger airports like MCO.
While both Orlando International Airport and Orlando Sanford International Airport offer air travel options for visitors to the Orlando area, they differ in terms of location, size, airlines and destinations, facilities, and accessibility. MCO is a larger and more centrally located airport that offers a wider variety of airlines and destinations, as well as more facilities and amenities. SFB is a smaller, low-cost airport that primarily serves a smaller number of destinations and airlines. The answer of which is right for you and your traveling party as you plan your Walt Disney World vacation will depend on the availability of flights, your budget, and your willingness to travel a longer distance to get to (and from) Walt Disney World resort.
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