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Options for Getting Through MCO Faster

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I often feel a sense of peace when I see that teal patterned carpet upon arrival at Orlando International Airport (MC)), but seeing it at departure is triggering, not only because it means that my vacation is ending, but also because it means I’ll be contending with the TSA security lines. I’ve been MCO at 5:00 in the morning, at 11:30 at night, and nearly every hour in between and there is almost always a sense of mild chaos at security. Here are some thing you can do to make the experience better.

Choose the Right Airline

Orlando’s Terminal C opened in late 2022. It is bright, clean, and efficient with clearly marked areas at security. Currently Terminal C is home to JetBlue domestically, plus about a dozen international airlines. Obviously not everyone has the ability to select from multiple airline options, either due to price or availability; however, some do. I live in the New York Metro area and usually have the ability to choose from Delta, Spirit, United, American, Breeze, or JetBlue when flying to Orlando. Even if I need to pay a few dollars more, JetBlue has become my preferred airline, mostly because the security screening at MCO is so seamless.

Wait time estimates on the MCO home page

If you want some proof, take a look at airport’s website home page. The box at the top right corner shows estimated security wait times. Terminal C’s wait is typically half an hour shorter than that for the main terminal’s gates 1-59 (Alaska, Allegiant, American, Breeze, Frontier, Silver, Spirit, and United.)

Get TSA Precheck

TSA Precheck is a US government run service that allows users to enter an expedited screening line, with no need to remove shoes, light jackets, laptops, belts, or small liquids during the screening process. Precheck is available at 200+ airports in the United States, including MCO.

In order to enroll in Precheck, you have to complete a brief online form, followed by a ten-minute in-person visit to an intake center where they will verify your identification documents, take a photo and fingerprints, and collect payment. Years ago, you had to do the in-person interview at an airport, but now they are everywhere. I found four locations within 10 miles of my home. Many interview locations are housed within Staples office supply stores.

Acceptable forms of identification include various combinations of a passport, valid photo ID such as a driver’s license, birth certificate, certificate of naturalization, and others. The price to apply for Precheck is currently $78 (renewals are a bit less) and once approved your status is good for five years. That’s about $15 per year to have speedier screening and less hassle at the airport. Many credit card companies offer discount pricing on TSA Precheck as a perk for their members. Children age 12 and under may go through Precheck lines with their parents.

If you travel even once per year, enrolling is TSA Precheck is probably a no-brainer.

Terminal C is easy breezy
Get Clear Plus

Clear Plus, previously know as Clear, is a private company that can essentially put a booster rocket on your TSA Precheck. With Clear Plus screening via your fingerprint or an iris scan, an agent will personally escort you to the front of the security line. If you have TSA Precheck AND Clear Plus, they’ll take you to the front of the Precheck line. Most of the same ID documents that qualify you for Precheck also qualify your for Clear. Here too, you start the application process online and then finish the clearance in person. Final clearance is done at an airport.

This service is available MCO. Pricing starts at $189 per individual, per year. Additional family members may join for $99 each. Again, many credit cards offer discounts on Clear Plus pricing.

Another perk of Clear is that many major stadiums and arenas have Clear lanes, allowing you, and one additional adult companion plus children under age 18, to skip to the front of screening.

Due to the higher expense, Clear is probably more interesting to frequent travelers or moderate travelers who also frequent one of the covered sports venues.

Make an Appointment

Clear has relatively new program called Reservation Lane by Clear. To use this service go to RESERVE and input your flight information, the number of people in your party, and a preferred screening time. You’ll get an email with a QR code. When you arrive at the airport, look for the Reservation Lane signs where you will scan the code and proceed directly to TSA screening.

MCO Reserve is open from 5:00am to 5:00pm. Your flight is eligible if it departs between 6:30am and 8:30pm. This service is free and is not available for passengers with TSA Precheck or Clear Plus.

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Erin Foster

Erin Foster is an original member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel (now PlanDisney), a regular contributor to TouringPlans.com, and co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line. She's been to WDW, DL, DL Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, Aulani, DVC Vero Beach, and DVC Hilton Head. She's a Platinum DCL cruiser and veteran of 10 Adventures by Disney trips. Erin lives near New York City, where she can often be found indulging in her other obsession - Broadway theater.

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