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A Florida Gator Crossing the Runway Held up an Entire Plane

June 12, 2018
2 min read
A Florida Gator Crossing the Runway Held up an Entire Plane
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Q: Why did the gator cross the runway?

That question may have crossed the minds of more than one passenger on Spirit Airlines Flight NK 389 from Baltimore (BWI) to Orlando International Airport (MCO), delayed Monday by an unauthorized intruder.

"Only in Florida... a gator held up our Spirit Airlines plane crossing the runway at MCO on the way home from DC," passenger Anthony Velardi posted on Facebook, along with a 10-second video of the large reptile making its way across the landing strip toward a nearby puddle.

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The airport had its priorities straight: “Obviously, it’s a protected species, so it has the right of way,” said MCO airport spokeswoman Carolyn Fennell. While gator appearances aren't common, Fennell said that the airport, which sits on 14,000 acres of Florida wetlands, has a biologist and a wildlife team on staff to help with any potential wildlife encounters.

Orlando International Airport has made headlines in recent years for its rapid ascent up the list of "Busiest Airports in America," jumping from #13 in January 2018 to #11 by May 2018, currently handling more than 45 million passengers each year. Ever-increasing volume, to the tune of more than two million additional travelers each year, has forced the airport to build a new terminal, and consider firing the TSA in an effort to relieve swamped security lines.

Despite all this, MCO consistently receives top marks of satisfaction from passengers, 93% of whom say that they are "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with the airport's performance.