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Airport Codes

With several Florida airports closing due to the hurricane there seems to be some confusion as to what airport actually is the Orlando International Airport. News organizations are reporting 3 different airports with the name Orlando in them.

To better understand which airport is which you need to know its 3 letter airport code. These codes are governed by the International Air Transport Association. Most airport codes reflect the name of the city the airport serves, the name of the airport, or the original name of the airport (often a former military facility). Once these codes are given they are almost never changed. 

If you are flying into Orlando you need to remember you want the real Mcoy (MCO). Mcoy Airfield is the former name of Orlando International Airport. Although the other 2 airports also have Orlando in their names, they are not actually located in Orlando. Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) is about 45 minutes north of Orlando and Orlando Melbourne International Airport (MLB) is about 1 hour east.

Some other examples of modern airport names not matching their codes are Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD) which used to be Orchard Airfield and Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) which uses its former name of Saigon.

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Jay Muller

Author of The Flight Advisor

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