First look: New terminal at Orlando International Airport utilizes latest technology

Terminal C cost $2.8 billion to build, will be largely automated

The $2.8 billion terminal will rely heavily on the latest technology.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Much of the new Terminal C, the soon-to-be completed South terminal at Orlando International Airport, is still off limits and under construction.

But just a look at the airside, past the TSA security checkpoint where passengers will board mostly JetBlue planes across 15 gates, reveals the new terminal is entirely different from the old terminal. From the top down, starting with the vast glass ceiling, light pours in everywhere.

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Gates of new Orlando International Airport terminal. (Orlando International Airport)

New airport CEO and former Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin Thibault said Terminal C will deliver “beyond” the “Orlando experience.”

“International arrivals are going to come up through these different corridors and they can see the sunshine when they come out here and really know that they’re in the Sunshine State,” Thibault said. “They’re going to get the whole Orlando experience right away.”

The $2.8 billion terminal will rely heavily on the latest technology. A giant interactive LED wall will help pass the time while automated screening will save time.

At the TSA checkpoint, the baggage bins will always be moving, connected by a continuous conveyor belt to avoid bin pileups.

Baggage claim in new terminal at Orlando International Airport. (Orlando International Airport)

The 15 new gates will be equipped with boarding pass readers and even facial recognition to speed up boarding.

Every single piece of checked luggage will be shuttled in its own yellow bin, tagged with a tracker so passengers can drop off their luggage early and airlines can tell them exactly where their bag is at any moment.

Baggage claim will be at the top of the terminal, not the bottom, right after getting off the plane so passengers can grab their luggage and go.

Checked luggage bins in new terminal at Orlando International Airport. (Orlando International Airport)

The entire terminal will be connected with a bridge to the new Intermodal facility housing Brightline trains to South Florida.

“We’re leveraging that technology to streamline the experience at least when they’re here in our terminal,” Thibault said.

The old North terminal was built to handle only 24 million passengers per year and has been stretched to accommodate 50 million, according to Thibault. MCO is the busiest airport in Florida and an industry trade group just named it the 7th busiest in the world.

“It [Terminal C] allows us to increase our capacity and reduce pressure currently felt in the North terminal complex which I’m sure many of you have seen,” Thibault said. “And so when we reach that threshold we really start to stretch our customer experience which is all very important to us here at Orlando International.”

Terminal C will handle up to 12 million passengers per year when it opens. As part of Phase 1 completion, an additional four gates will be added to the existing 15.

Rental cars, however, will not be available at Terminal C. Passengers will be bussed directly to the rental car counters at the North terminal or can take the tram.

Right now some 1,500 workers are on site daily to finish Terminal C by “the summer.” Thibault would not give an exact opening date.

Terminal C at Orlando International Airport. (Orlando International Airport)

About the Author:

Erik von Ancken anchors and reports for WKMG-TV News 6 (CBS) in Orlando and is a two-time Emmy award-winning journalist in the prestigious and coveted "On-Camera Talent" categories for both anchoring and reporting. Erik joined the News 6 News Team in 2003 days after the tragic loss of space shuttle Columbia.