Flight delays, missed connections, and getting to the airport far too early can leave you with quite a bit of time on your hands at the airport. For most of us, there are far more exciting places in The City Beautiful where we would rather spend our time. But if you find yourself stuck at the Orlando International Airport (OIA), let me suggest some ways to spend that time.
If you are lucky enough to get stranded prior to your trip through the security line, feel grateful because there is far more entertainment to offer on the pre-security side. Why not grab a bite to eat or a drink to take the edge off? There are several seated restaurants to choose from, as well as a food court with quicker alternatives. For the traveler with a little time on their hands, Macaroni Grill is a great place to eat and unwind with a glass of wine. Fox Sports Bar is the perfect fit for the sports fan who wants to watch a game or catch up on the latest scores with an appetizer or a beer. Chili's is another option, but is somewhat hidden upstairs in front of the west security checkpoint. If time is not on your side, then you can choose from McDonald's, Panda Express, and Krispy Kreme to name just a very few.
Shopping is another activity that may help pass the time. Most of the stores are conveniently located in a strip mall fashion between the east and west checkpoints. Families may want to continue their theme park adventures by nabbing one last souvenir from either the SeaWorld, Disney, or Universal Studios stores. Some of the other stores available for either browsing or buying include Ron Jon Surf Shop, Kennedy Space Center, Brookstone, and even Build-a-Bear Workshop.
If you are full, tired, and don't want to spend another dime, OIA can still come to your rescue. Seating is plentiful and even peaceful if you know just where to go. The sky-lit atrium the East side has plentiful seating where you can either watch or listen to the peaceful fountain located in the very middle. During the Christmas season, the fountain is replace by a giant tree with lights and ornaments. One hidden gym is a piece of art called "The Traveler" which is located on the East side just past Starbucks in a huge Plexiglas case. A wax rendering of a weary flyer (much like you may feel at this point) will make you do a double take. It is always entertaining to watch as people try to determine if the sleeping man is actually real. Grab a coffee and giggle as children tap on the glass and adults look at each other in disbelief. While you are sipping your coffee, you may want to grab the latest bestseller or gossip magazine from Hudson Booksellers next door.
For those that have already passed through the security checkpoint only to find their flight is delayed, there are still many eateries and stores in all four terminals to occupy your time. You may also want to just sit and enjoy the free Wi-Fi offered by OIA on your computer or smart phone. Forgot you power cord? Don't worry! Just grab one from one of the many electronic kiosks and plug into one of the charging stations located throughout the airport. If the children are restless, why not take a few trips back and forth on the monorail-like tram that carries passengers to and from the terminals. Watching the planes and riding over ponds and palm trees, can soothe even the grouchiest little one.
The beauty of the Orlando International Airport helps ease the discomfort of being stranded. However, when you are ready to get home or to your next destination, beauty can only soothe your soul for a while. Take advantage of the many unique features of this airport and before you know it you will be in the air and on your way.