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MCO is the primary airport for Orlando, Florida and much of the surrounding region. It has its current funky airport code for a reason: before 1974, it was owned by the United States Air Force and known as McCoy AFB. It gained its current name in 1976, but the old code stuck.

The airport's growth has been exponential since then, just like the growth of the Orlando region. In 1978, MCO handled 5 million passengers, and by 2000 that number had soared to 30 million. Today, it covers 23 square miles, making it the third-largest airport in the United States by area (after Denver and DFW). It also has North America's tallest control tower.

Delta Air Lines is Orlando's most prominent tenant, carrying 20% of the airport's passengers along with its regional counterpart, Comair. The biggest market by far is to and from New York City: nearly four thousand people fly the Orlando-New York route every day. London is another key destination, with daily flights by Delta, British Airways, and Virgin Atlantic.

But that's only half the story: Newsweek and Conde Nast have both called Orlando the best airport to hang out in. I wholeheartedly agree (although MSP, Gatwick, and Kansai would be at least tied for that honor). There are many things to like about the airport, but I happen to love the posh Hyatt hotel that's integrated with the terminal. All of the rooms overlook an atrium several stories high with a huge fountain in the middle: it's really quite impressive.

There's also some great stuff to do on the ground floor. There's a miniature Borders there that offers a broader reading selection than your average WH Smith, and there are gift shops run by Disney, Sea World, and the Kennedy Space Center, as well as a well-rounded food court and a Chili's. All great places.

MCO is built around a satellite terminal system much like Tampa's (and, also like Tampa, there's a parking garage on top of the terminal). The landside of the terminal is a single large building, and then you ride a people mover out to a detached airside terminal to catch your flight. Orlando's airport authority is currently building a second terminal grid in order to handle up to 60 million passengers a year by 2020, twice the current figure. Quite a rise, for an airport that's only been around for 30 years.

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