Flying Out Of MCO – Orlando International Airport

I live near Orlando, so I’m close to the Disney parks and can visit anytime my family wants to. However, I work as a consultant and I frequently need to fly out of Orlando’s airport to visit Chicago, New York, Denver, and Los Angeles where my client companies are.

Orlando weather can be unpredictable. There are often random rain squalls that can turn a sunny day into a pouring thunderstorm, and then back into a warm sunny day within the span of 20 – 30 minutes. When I first moved to Orlando a former colleague told me to always fly out of Orlando before midday, otherwise I would get stuck in airport delays. While I think that’s a bit too much for an Orlando regular it’s good advice for Disney World guests, especially if you need to make a connecting flight.

So whenever I fly out of Orlando I try to purchase flights that leave around 11 AM to 1 PM, and not past 2 PM. I don’t like early morning flights, but I also don’t want to get stuck in a delayed flight due to an afternoon storm. So a midday flight is the best compromise.

Typically I try to fly either United Airlines or American Airlines – I have frequent flier miles on my United account from a previous job, and my current employer prefers to fly on American whenever possible. I’ll recommend specific United and American flight numbers since I’ve flown on them, but if you prefer Southwest/Frontier/another airline, try to get a flight leaving no later than 1 PM EST (Orlando time).

Flying Orlando To Chicago

Here I like United, because United flight 1960 leaves at 11 AM and if you miss that you can catch UA 1962 leaving just one hour later at 12 noon. If you prefer American Airlines, AAL flight 1647 leaves at 12:40 PM, which cuts it a bit close to my rule of leaving Orlando before 1 PM but it’s still a great option.

Chicago has two major airports: O’Hare (ORD) and Midway (MDW). I always prefer landing at O’Hare: it’s a much bigger airport than Midway and therefore has much more options; in case you miss a connecting flight there are more flights and more options available from O’Hare than from Midway. The lounges, restaurants, and hotels are also much better at O’Hare.

Flying Orlando To New York

United 2046 from MCO Orlando to EWR Newark. Credit: FlightAware

For New York, there are fewer options than Orlando to Chicago; there aren’t any midday flights by United or American. Depending on my airport destination (I pick the airport closest to my clients; you should pick the airport closest to your home) I fly United flight 2046 to EWR (Newark) at 10:50 AM, American/JetBlue flight 9484 to LGA (LaGuardia) at 10:19 AM, and American/JetBlue flight 2584 to JFK (John F Kennedy) leaving at 10:10 AM.

Flying Orlando To Denver

Flying from Orlando to Denver is a much easier choice. American Airlines doesn’t fly directly from Orlando to Denver; the only direct flight from United at midday is United flight 1520 leaving at 11:43 AM.

Flying Orlando To Los Angeles

Flying to Los Angeles from Orlando, I usually break my rule of flying United or American. The only United/American flights to LAX are in the morning or evening, so I pick Delta flight 2901 at 10:30 AM.

Changing Times

These times are accurate as of November 2022, but as time goes by flight times and numbers can change. However the general rule stands: try to fly out of Orlando by 1 PM EST (Orlando timezone) to make sure you’re not delayed by afternoon rain storms.