At 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the first flight will arrive at the new Terminal C at Orlando International Airport from Manchester, England. The plan is for Ireland’s Aer Lingus, which will operate that first flight, and Brazil’s GOL to operate out of the building first, to be joined by other international airlines before this weekend, then JetBlue and Air Caribbean next week.
Terminal C marks a major expansion for Orlando Airport, which was the ninth-busiest airport in the country in 2019, the last year the Bureau of Transportation Statistics published the ratings.
“As this area was growing because of what was happening because of all the destinations and attractions that were here, I needed to create a hub for all that movement,” Kevin Thibault, chief executive of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, told USA TODAY. “In the past four to five years, they’ve built this first phase of the building.”
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Unfortunately, only passengers whose airlines operate out of the new terminal will have easy access – and others will have to clear security again to reach their gates. For those who could take advantage of the new facility, there is a lot to look forward to.
New technology from pavement to gate
The entire project is focused on high-tech updates to CKD regular air travel. Some of the highlights include automated TSA checkpoints and biometric boarding for all international flights.
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TSA’s automated walkways allow containers to be returned to the front of the line without the dealer having to push them there in a wagon. Passenger items can be checked at machines or remotely if nearby agents are busy with secondary checks or other responsibilities.
“TSA checkpoints are always tight,” Thibault said. “We have automated as much as possible to simplify this process and reduce the impact on occupants.”
Improved road signs and an app with directions and features will help travelers navigate the 15-gate complex as well. The RFID-enabled baggage system should reduce the possibility of baggage loss.
New station design
Orlando’s new Terminal C will mark a departure from the regular airport layout, especially when it comes to the terminal.
“You’re in a sub-basement or the basement of the terminal building, and that’s not a very welcoming feeling” at a traditional airport, Tybalt said. “What we want is this feeling of, ‘I’m here,’ so instead, arriving passengers and their bags will end up on the top floor of the airport, where they can see more natural light.
“It’s all about first impressions,” Tibow said. “It’s just to change the appearance of those incoming passengers.”
Terminal C also uses a “bags first” system in its customs area, which means that passengers arriving from abroad will collect their luggage before lining up for passport control.
“This will control the flow of (passengers) to the platform,” Tebow said. “It’s kind of suffocating.”
More shopping and dining options
Terminal C will include Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld stores—perfect if you forgot to pick up a gift for your second favorite nephew when you were in the actual theme parks—plus other retailers, duty free shops, and more than 30 franchises. Many food and beverage options will be from local vendors, but well-known and beloved national chains will also be represented.
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Tybalt said locals leaving the airport “may want to repeat it because they know this experience here locally, but it also gives destination passengers a chance to see what Central Florida has to offer.”
What airlines will use Terminal C?
JetBlue will be the main domestic charterer and will share the building with international operators in this first phase:
- Jet Blue
- Aer Lingus
- British Airways
- Caribbean Airlines
- Norse Atlantic Airways
Tebow said Terminal C will likely be expanded further in the coming years, with plans to handle 60 million passengers annually as it grows.
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