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Ready for Takeoff

Planning a family vacation, especially with little ones in tow, can be a stressful experience, but once all the reservations are made and the suitcases are packed, a feeling of anticipatory excitement takes over. The only thing left to do at that point is get on the plane and start creating lifelong memories.

Of course, the path to boarding isn’t always an easy one, and obstacles such as finding parking, battling crowds at the TSA line or dealing with delayed flights can put even the most enthusiastic traveler in a sour mood. Fortunately for residents of Central Florida, there is an appealing option where issues like those are few and far between.

Orlando Sanford International Airport, which has a rich history as a naval air station dating back to the 1940s, switched gears in 1971, and ever since then has been committed to providing safe, affordable and comfortable air travel to all types of passengers. While certainly no secret to locals, it sometimes gets overlooked as the No. 1 option for flying, but as more people learn of its incredible convenience and all the wonderful destinations that it reaches, that is bound to change.

“I would say it’s a hidden gem, but not really, because we’ve been here a long time,” says Lauren Rowe, director of communications. “People just don’t realize how many places you can get to from here and how easy it is to get in and out. The average time spent in our airport is 78 minutes, from start to finish, which is much lower than in a larger airport.”

Orlando Sanford International flies to more than 70 destinations in the United States and Canada, and all flights are direct—so no sitting around at another airport while waiting to transfer planes. Those options, along with the easy access, focus on comfort and reasonable prices, make the airport attractive to not only family vacationers but also business travelers and older folks visiting relatives around the country.

“Our airport code is SFB,” Rowe says, “so we like to say we’re simpler, faster, better.”

Allegiant Airlines flies to major U.S. cities like Las Vegas, Austin, Memphis and Nashville, while Floridians can access beautiful Canadian cities like Ottawa or Toronto via Flair Airlines. Then there are smaller destinations that perhaps offer local residents the chance to explore states they’ve never even considered visiting.

“One of our newest destinations is Provo, Utah,” Rowe says. “If you want to go to the mountains in the summertime—which a lot of us really enjoy doing—then Provo is an awesome option that is much more affordable than going to Denver or one of the other big mountain destinations.”

Bentonville, Arkansas, is known as the mountain bike capital of the world and also has a renowned art museum, while Rowe also cites Niagara Falls and Asheville, North Carolina, as destinations worthy of a visit. The best part is that they can be reached from Orlando Sanford International without extensive planning.

“I understand people are going to plan, budget and save up for big, huge summer vacations, but what I love about our airport is that we’re a great little getaway alternative,” Rowe says. “There are so many excellent places to go for family getaways that are affordable and fun, and you can do it last minute.”

Orlando Sanford International recently underwent renovations and expansion, a project that included updating the ticketing halls and adding a World War II bomber plane restored by volunteers that now overlooks the terminal.

“We also have four new gates, so we are ready for growth because we do believe that we will get more airlines,” Rowe says. “It’s inevitable that as this city grows and Seminole County grows, demand for travel is just going to get larger and larger, so we believe we will continue to grow as an airport, as well.”

Recent polling shows that almost 99% of respondents would recommend Orlando Sanford International, and Rowe is looking forward to even more Central Floridians getting an opportunity to take advantage of all the airport has to offer.

“When people finally discover that we’re here, they don’t want to use other airports,” she says. “What I encourage people to do is check us first if you’re going to fly in the United States or Canada, because most likely we’re going to have a more affordable and a better experience for you.”

Orlando Sanford International Airport

1200 Red Cleveland Blvd. | Sanford

(407) 585-4000