Know about the safest parking options at Orlando airport during stormy conditions
As hurricane season comes to its peak, airports are beginning to temporarily close down for safety reasons. For Floridians, this is nothing new. Small airports, in particular, shut down to avoid disaster, but some larger airports, such as the Orlando International Airport (MCO), remain open due to their large capacity. This does not mean they become shelters, nor does it mean flights are guaranteed to run on schedule. It does mean the airport has a greater chance of operating if conditions are deemed acceptable.
Those who unfortunately have to travel through these harsh conditions have the choice of either being dropped off by a friend or ride-share app, or parking near the airport. Those choosing the latter may want to take that extra second to consider where exactly they want to park, especially for long-term trips.
Although only a couple of hurricanes make landfall in Florida a year, it’s never a bad idea to plan ahead, especially if you have a trip longer than a week. Hurricanes can make landfall as fast as 48 hours, so knowing where to park is sometimes crucial if you frequently use Orlando International Airport. In 2017, Hurricane Irma thrashed Florida and forced over 30 percent of all residents to evacuate, the largest evacuation in U.S. History. Last month, Hurricane Dorian shut the airport down, but officials decided it was safe enough to remain open, so officials did so. This all proves how sudden storms can occur or airports can close/ open.
“Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) executive leadership and emergency management leaders met with airline officials, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Air Traffic Control Tower representatives, concessionaires, construction teams, Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport representatives, rental car companies, baggage handling firms, authority staff, and other airport stakeholders this afternoon to continue ongoing discussions about airport operations prior to Hurricane Dorian’s arrival,” Orlando International Airport said in an official statement via Twitter in preparation for Hurricane Dorian. “After the meeting, it was determined by the general consensus that, out of an abundance of caution, Orlando International Airport would cease commercial flight operations on Monday, September 2, 2019, at 2 a.m. Passengers should check with individual airlines for flight information and schedules.”
The Orlando International Airport offers plenty of cheap MCO parking, both on and off location. Most would agree that the closest parking lot with the best protection for overnight parking would be ideal, so let’s start with the closest: Terminal Top Parking.
Located in the middle of the airport, Terminal Top Parking offers both long-term and short-term MCO parking with all of their spaces covered. The cost to stay a week in this spot would cost you close to $130, but the area is patrolled by the Orlando Police Department. Daily parking runs at a maximum of $19 a day and there is a 45-day maximum for this parking lot.
Hyatt Valet parking offers similar amenities at the same location, but at a higher price. Although valet isn’t commonly thought to be used for long trips, the hotel offers valet parking for a maximum of 60 days. All spots are covered, and security is also on the premise of this parking lot. This option will cost you much more, with a week parking costing you over $200, or $28 a day. If you happen to be a guest at the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport, then these charges are significantly less. It will only cost you $12 a night for self-parking or $16 a night for valet.
The next closest MCO parking option, aside from the previous two, would be Parking Garage A or B. Both of these parking garages are within walking distance of the terminals and are guarded by security. These parking spots are mostly covered and will cost you around $130 for a week’s stay. There is also a 45-day maximum for this parking lot. Like the Terminal Top Parking Lot, the maximum for daily parking is $19.
Moving a little more away from the airport, you have the North or South Park Place Economy Lot. These two lots require shuttles to get to the terminals, but they are free and run 24/7, about every 10 minutes. These spaces are all uncovered, so this may not be the best option if you’re worried about damage. The lot is fenced and guarded by the Orlando Police Department. The upside of these options is the cost- only $10 a day. To park there for a week will cost you around $70, which is nearly half the price of the previous options. They also offer the longest maximum stay at 90 days.
Finally, there is Parking Garage C, which is located right next to the South Cell Phone Lot. Most of the spaces at this lot are covered, so you don’t have to worry about any weather damage at this lot. This maybe your best option for cheap MCO parking for a daily rate with covered spaces at $17 a day and a maximum stay of 45 days.
For oversized vehicles, such as motorhomes (or anything larger than 20 feet in length), the only parking lot available within the airport is at North Park Place parking lot. Accessible MCO parking can be found near the elevator shafts on each level of Terminal Garage A, B and Top Parking Lot. Accessible parking spaces can be found on levels 3 and 5 of Garage C. MCO also provides free parking for anyone who uses specialized equipment with their cars in accordance with Section 316.1964. This equipment includes ramps, lifts and foot or hand controls.
Parking is going to be more congested at Orlando International Airport with the start of the $2.1 billion addition to the south terminal. The first phase, which is planned to open in 2020, is expected to increase passenger capacity by 50 million people.
“At full expansion with 120 gates, we believe this airport could handle between 80 and 100 million passengers a year,” said Davin Ruohomaki, MCO’s Senior Director of Planning and Construction. “That’s the size of Atlanta.”
There are more MCO Airport parking options nearby. One of the best parking is at Fast Park and Relax. They offer an entire covered lot at $11 a night. It’s only 1.5 miles from the airport and if you have AAA membership and mention it before you pay, they will have a discount waiting for you. Another great option is The Parking Spot because they offer a shuttle service every 5-7 minutes as well as a complimentary bottle of water at checkout. Their rates are hard to beat: $10 a day for uncovered parking or $2 extra for covered parking. WallyPark offers similar amenities at the same cost. To find more parking options similar to these, you can always use parking websites, such as Way.com, or Airportsparking.com to help you find more lots near Orlando International Airport.
If none of these options interest you, there are still some more alternatives. Some hotels nearby offer long term parking for travelers. The Renaissance Orlando Airport Hotel, DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando Airport, and Comfort Suites Orlando Airport all offer long term overnight MCO parking for cheap. Unfortunately, these hotels don’t offer covered spaces so your car still might be at risk. For those who have an early flight, it might interest you to look at some of the nearby hotels with park, snooze, and fly options. This option allows you to spend the night at the hotel and park your car on-site for free for at least a week, sometimes longer.
Say you’re going on a trip for three months and are forced to park in the Park Place Economy Lot because of their extensive time allowance, but you’re worried about your car being uncovered. There are more things you can do to prepare your car for damages during a storm when you’re away. Before getting to the airport, make sure your car’s tank is completely full and all of your fluids, such as oil and windshield wiper, are properly checked and replenished. The last thing you want is to come back home after a disaster and have no gas in your car.
Once you park your car at the airport, the first thing you should do is document your car’s condition with pictures and any written descriptions. Do this for both the interior and exterior of your car. This will help your insurance company if you have to make a claim in the event of a hurricane. Before you go, review your insurance policy to see if you are protected in the event of a natural disaster.
The last thing to do before heading off on your trip is to make sure you properly stow away your car keys and documentation. Put them in a safe place, possibly on you, so that you always know where to locate them.
If you disagree with these options, or possibly can’t afford to park at Orlando airport during a long trip and stormy weather is omnipresent, there is one last tip for you. Park smartly. Avoid parking under powerlines or near trees. Don’t park in lower level parking lots, as they tend to flood during heavy rainstorms. Try to park in a covered lot, or near a building to protect your car from high winds.
A study found out that 63% of the time, it’s cheaper to drive and park at the airport. For the Orlando International Airport, it’s cheaper to take an Uber or Lyft to MCO Airport if the length of your trip is greater than the driving distance from the airport. See the graph below to if it’s a better option to park at the airport or take a rideshare service.
So, let’s say you’ve found a cheap MCO parking spot near the airport and you’ve gone off on your trip. Come to find out a storm is brewing in Orlando and you’re worried about what to do when you get back. Here are some tips to follow for when it’s time to return to Orlando.
The first thing you should do before returning home is to make sure it’s safe to return home. Depending on how devastating the natural disaster is, Orlando might not be ready to return to yet. Police could have restricted access to the city that may affect airport traffic. Your original flight back home may also be canceled because of stormy conditions. Many flights back to Orlando are likely sold out during these times, so if you see a flight back and are unsure if your flight will be canceled, buy the flight and take advantage of their 24-hour cancellation policy. Most flights allow passengers to cancel their flights within 24-hours and receive a full refund. This is perfect if you are unsure if you are going to need a new return flight or not.
Once you arrive back to Orlando and your car is found to be where you left it, it’s time to inspect the car. It’s understandable to be excited/ anxious to be back home, and you may want to rush to get back to see if your house is in stable condition, but your car is just as important. Go around the entire car and make sure there are no new damages. Document anything that doesn’t look at how it was when you left for the trip. These documents might come in handy if you later discover something wrong with your car.
Finally, the last thing to be careful about is driving away from Orlando Airport during this time. Streets may be flooded, and some roads could be closed, so it’s best to check the road conditions of Orlando before you leave the parking lot.
Orlando is affected by hurricanes and severe weather throughout the year. Many people don’t think about how quickly a storm can destroy an area. In the case of a natural disaster, you may want to prepare yourself with these options so that you don’t return home from a trip to see your car damaged from debris or rainfall. As the saying goes, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
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