At 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, the first flight will arrive at from Orlando International Airport new Terminal C in Manchester, England. The plan is that Irish Aer Lingus, which will operate this first flight, and Brazil’s Gol, which will operate from the terminal first, will be joined by other international airlines before the end of this week, then JetBlue and Air Caribbean next week.
Terminal C represents a major expansion for Orlando Airport, which was the nation’s ninth-busiest airport in 2019, the last year for which the Bureau of Transportation Statistics released rankings.
“As this region grew because of what was happening because of all the destinations and attractions that were here, you had to create a hub for all of this movement,” Kevin Thibault, CEO of the Greater Orland Aviation Authority, said at USA TODAY. “Over the past four to five years they’ve been building this first phase of the terminal.”
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Unfortunately, only passengers whose airlines operate from the new terminal will have easy access – others will again have to go through security to get to their gates. For those taking advantage of the new facility, there is a lot to look forward to.
New sidewalk-to-door technology
The entire project emphasizes high-tech updates from the regular drudgery of air travel. Some of the highlights include automated TSA checkpoints and biometric boarding for all international flights.
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Automated TSA lanes allow bins to be brought back to the front of the line without an agent needing to push them there in a cart. Passengers’ belongings may be screened at machines or remotely if nearby officers are busy with secondary screening or other responsibilities.
“TSA checkpoints are always a pain,” Thibault said. “We have automated as much as possible to streamline this process and minimize the impact on passengers.”
Improved wayfinding signs and an app with directions and highlights will also help travelers navigate the 15-gate complex. And an RFID baggage system should make lost luggage less likely.
A new terminal layout
Orlando’s new Terminal C will represent a departure from the normal layout of the airport, particularly with regard to the arrivals hall.
“You’re in the basement or basement of a terminal, and it’s not a welcoming feeling” at a traditional airport, Thibault said. “What we want is that feeling like ‘I’m here,’ so instead arriving passengers and their luggage will end up on the upper level of the airport, where they can see more natural light.
“It’s all about first impressions,” Thibault said. “It’s just to change the appearance of arriving passengers.”
Terminal C also uses a “bags first” system in its customs area, which means passengers arriving from overseas will collect their luggage before queuing for passport control.
“It will control the flow (of passengers) to the podium,” said Thibault. “It’s kind of a chokehold.”
More shopping and dining options
Terminal C will feature Disney, Universal and SeaWorld stores – perfect if you forgot to get your second favorite nephew a gift while at the parks – plus other retail and duty-free stores and over 30 concessions . Many dining options will be sourced from local vendors, but well-known and beloved national chains will also be represented.
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Local residents departing from the airport “might want to patronize this because they know this experience here locally,” Thibault said, “but it also gives destination passengers an opportunity to see what Central Florida has to offer”.
Which airlines will use Terminal C?
JetBlue will be the main domestic tenant and will share the building with international operators in this first phase:
- Aer Lingus
- British Airways
- Caribbean Airlines
- Norse Atlantic Airways
In the coming years, Thibault said, Terminal C is likely to be further expanded, with plans for it to handle 60 million passengers a year as it grows.