Some of the links below are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase.
Orlando Sanford International Airport is one of several airports in the Orange County area that serves passengers. The airport comprises two terminals: Terminal A and Terminal B.
Given this, I recommend arriving at Orlando Sanford Airport at least 2 hours before a domestic flight and at least 3 hours before an international flight.
However, you’ll also want to consider personal circumstances that may influence you to arrive at the airport even earlier. These include; travelling with young children, how you are going to travel to the airport, what time you’re flying etc.
What Time Should You Arrive at Orlando Sanford Airport?
We typically recommend arriving at Orlando Sanford International Airport at least two hours before departure for domestic flights (flights within the US) and at least three hours before departure for international flights (flights outside of the US).
This should provide you with enough time to;
- Arrive at the airport
- Check-in for your flight
- Drop your bags
- Go through security
- Make it to your gate – prior to / in time for boarding
In our opinion, it’s always better to arrive at the airport a little early and have some extra time browsing the stores or grabbing a bite to eat rather than arriving late, feeling rushed and running the risk of missing your flight.
Why Do You Need Longer For International Flights?
It’s often recommended that when travelling to international destinations (outside the US) you arrive at Orlando Sanford Airport at least 3 hours before the flight departs. This is to allow for extra time to check visas, entry requirements, immigration control and clear customs.
Some of these aspects apply exclusively to international passengers leaving the US, while others apply to US citizens.
International flights also often have a longer boarding period (starting earlier) to allow for all passengers to board the aircraft in ample time before the scheduled departure.
How Are You Getting to Orlando Sanford Airport?
Deciding on the ideal time to arrive at Orlando Sanford Airport requires consideration of how you’ll be travelling there. Given the city’s layout, it’s essential to anticipate traffic conditions.
Use Google Maps to evaluate the distance and projected travel time to the airport according to your mode of transport.
Keep in mind that if you check Google Maps on a Sunday at 1pm, then the travel time may be very different to the reality you face if you’re actually trying to complete the journey at 7am on a Monday.
Parking at Orlando Sanford Airport
If you’re choosing to drive and park at Orlando Sanford Airport, it’s sensible to factor in an extra 30 minutes for parking and commuting to the terminal.
Various parking options are available, ranging from self-parking to valet services, with varying convenience and cost implications.
Returning a Rental Car
If you’re returning a rental car at Sanford Airport then we recommend allowing at least an additional hour.
Depending on the rental car provider you have used, you may be required to wait in line and complete some paperwork before returning your vehicle.
In addition to this you’ll also then need to take a shuttle from the rental car drop-off location over to the terminal – all of which increases the amount of time you’ll need for getting to the airport.
The Time of Year
Orlando Sanford Airport’s activity can differ drastically according to the season and the occurrence of major holidays. This can impact waiting times across all aspects of the airport experience.
National holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Spring Break can generate high travel demand.
If your travel coincides with these periods, it might be wise to contemplate arriving an hour earlier than usual.
Check-In For Your Flight
The majority of airlines now allow you to check in for your flight using either the mobile application or web application up to 24 hours before departure. Checking in using this service should provide you with a digital boarding pass and therefore only require you to use the bag drop service (if applicable).
However, if you’re unable to check in for your flight before arriving at the airport then you’ll want to make sure you arrive at the airport with enough time to do so.
The majority of airlines provide both self-service check-in kiosks and check-in counters at Sanford Airport which allow you to complete the check-in process quickly and easily.
However, keep in mind that airlines will close the check-in gates before the flight departs (exact times vary, however, it’s usually around 45 minutes – check with your airline). If you have not checked in before the designated time then you will be denied boarding – even if you’re at the departure gate on time for the flight itself.
Dropping Checked Bags
Much like checking in for your flight, another factor you’ll want to consider when determining what time you should arrive at Orlando Sanford International Airport is whether or not you’ll need to check your luggage.
The bag drop will close roughly one hour prior to the flight’s departure (exact times vary depending on the airline and destination so be sure to check your flight information) so you’ll want to make sure you arrive at Orlando Sanford Airport early enough to accommodate for this where applicable.
If you do not have any checked bags then once you have your boarding pass (either digital from checking in online or physical from checking in at the airport) you’ll be able to head straight through to security.
TSA Precheck / CLEAR?
If you have TSA Precheck or CLEAR then moving through security should be a significantly quicker and easier process.
As such you should not need to allow for additional time at the airport when compared to infrequent travellers moving through the regular security checkpoints.
Which Orlando Sanford Airport Terminal Do You Need?
Orlando Sanford International Airport has two primary terminals: Terminal A and Terminal B. Airlines may adjust their designated terminals, so always check your ticket or the airport’s website for the most up-to-date information.
- Allegiant Air
- Surinam Airways
- TUI Airways