So, where exactly is Orlando Airport??

Which Orlando Airport am I landing at here??
Which Orlando Airport am I landing at here??

Are you flying to Orlando? If so, do you know where that airport is? The use of the city name Orlando among three different airports is causing some troubles according to the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, operator of Orlando International Airport (MCO), the real Orlando. The GOAA is now fighting with two other airports to protect against consumer confusion, mostly by seeking to block them from using Orlando in their names.

Which of these is really an Orlando Airport??
Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

The GOAA is holding a special meeting today with authorities from the Melbourne Airport Authority, operators of “Orlando Melbourne International Airport (MLB),” over the use of Orlando at that facility. The airport added Orlando to its marketing efforts at the beginning of the decade, seeking to attract more visitors and grow airline demand. Melbourne even managed to attract Porter Air from Toronto back in 2015, also marketing the destination as “Orlando-Melbourne.”

The third “Orlando” airport is at Sanford, just Northeast of the city. The “Orlando Sanford International Airport” (SFB) is a haven for LCCs; Allegiant runs a sizable operation at the facility and some European charter/tour operators use the airport as their Disney base. That airport now wants to trademark its name – including the word Orlando – and the GOAA is not amused.

Read More: Porter Air adds Florida to its Route Map

For its part, GOAA executives insist that the concern is about passenger confusion and not about the money, according to the story. And for those not familiar with the area that potential confusion is real. From MLB to Disney is around 80 minutes, assuming light traffic which is often a losing bet. Tampa’s airport is closer to the parks, though that drive also requires using I-4 which is rarely pleasant. Sanford airport is 45-60 minutes away while MCO is around 20-30 minutes from Disney. And, yes, there are other reasons to visit the region. Beaches on the Atlantic coast are much closer to MLB, even if the Orlando Airport and other tourism marketing groups have occasionally called them Orlando’s.

This is not the first instance of far-flung airfields claiming the name of the larger, more appealing city in an effort to sell more seats. Ryanair was somewhat famous for the tactic, with Hahn airport standing in for Frankfurt, Charleroi for Brussels or Beauvais for Paris. None of those three are particularly close to the city center but the carrier has won all challenges against claims the airports are not where they claim to be.

Many European airports also not in the city they claim as home
Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

In those cases the challenges were usually brought as consumer complaints regarding false advertising, not name protection by competing airports. Still, the potential confusion is a real challenge for the airports and for passengers. Landing an hour or more away from where the destination can be a mess if unprepared.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


    1. Yes, Newark is no less convenient as an airport – particularly for Manhattan – but let’s be honest, it has NO business having a second Penn Station. I’ve encountered multiple domestic travelers having issues stemming from that mixup…can only imagine how confusing it might be if you’d never been to the area before, or English wasn’t your first language…

      1. How would that be any different from arriving in LGA or JFK and trying to go to Manhattan with limited English skills? Just because those are in NYC boroughs doesn’t necessarily make it easier to get from point A to point B.

  1. Manchester-Boston Regional airport (MHT) in Manchester, N.H. is at least 90 Minutes from downtown Boston with no traffic. Pretty consumer hostile in my opinion…

    1. * 60 min with no traffic, but honestly closer to 30 min if you have a Mass driver’s license. 90 usually means you got blocked in by a couple of green plates (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire or an “elderly” Mass plate) *

      Kidding aside, it’s about the same distance (50 miles) as Worcester or Providence airports from Boston. All three are regional and considered a pressure reveler to Logan International (Boston). Manchester has been the most successful at this since the north eastern corner of Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire and both densely populated and home to some major corporations with large amounts of business travel.

      With that in mind, i’m ok with an airport like Manchester including Boston in it’s name as a way to attract customers to an alternative they may not realize is available. The anti-consumer part would only apply if the airlines were advertising it as flights to Boston. A perfect example of that is the new flights by Norwegian Air from Providence Rhode Island and Hartford Connecticut to Europe (Ireland/Scotland). So long as it’s not saying Boston as the destination when booking, i know where i’m going (Once again Providence-Boston i’m ok with)

  2. Orlando has a fourth airport which is the city airport. I don’t think it has any commercial flights.

    1. Yup, the Orlando Executive Airport (ORL) but only General Aviation so I didn’t include it here. Also, it is operated by GOAA so presumably the use of Orlando in the name is acceptable.

  3. I lived in Cape Canaveral for a couple years and tried, almost every time I went on a trip, to fly out of and in to MLB. It’s quite a bit closer and saves taking the toll road. They were also often on American’s discounted award chart.

    It never once worked. I drove past it a couple times and looked at the Russian jets that were being serviced there, but I never managed to fly in or out of MLB. I don’t think MCO needs to worry too much about the competition.

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