Orlando Melbourne Airport Is Being Sued Over Its Name

It’s not unusual for companies to get a little greedy when it comes to the ways in which they promote their products. For example, American Airlines describes their domestic first class catering as “healthy, delicious and customized.”

Similarly, we’ve seen hotels get creative with geography, where they’ve reimagined their locations to make them sound more desirable. For example, take the W Westwood, which a few years back was renamed the W West Beverly Hills. Hmmm…

Well, this concept can also apply to airports, and in this case it impacts Orlando Melbourne International Airport.

As described by the Orlando Sentinel, a new lawsuit has been filed by the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) against Orlando Melbourne Airport, demanding that the airport remove “Orlando” from its name. The airport is actually located in Melbourne, Florida, about 70 miles from Orlando.

The GOAA claims that the airport’s name makes it seem that it “is located in or is closer to Orlando and Orlando area attractions than it actually is.”

In addition to demanding “Orlando” be removed from the name, it’s also being requested that for the next year they post notices regarding their “false and misleading statements” about the proximity to and relationship with Orlando.

As the lawsuit alleges:

“The illegal advertisements are intended to cause consumers to stop booking airline flights to GOAA’s Orlando International Airport, and opt instead to mistakenly fly to Melbourne International Airport.”

Orlando International Airport handles 47 million passengers annually, while Orlando Melbourne International Airport handles fewer than a million passengers per year, so one airport is obviously way bigger than the other.

For what it’s worth, Orlando isn’t the only city to be in a situation like this. Boston Logan Airport has often taken issues with how Manchester Boston Regional Airport in New Hampshire has advertised itself.

I’ll be curious to see what comes of this lawsuit. I’m a bit conflicted here. On one hand, I’m supportive of encouraging airports to advertise honestly.

At the same time, I question to what extent this actually causes confusion among people, rather than Orlando just wanting to eliminate a competitor as much as possible. I could see some people choosing to fly into Melbourne for the purposes of visiting Orlando, but I think they’d generally do so intentionally.

I’m not really sure where the line should be drawn. Just to give another example, on WOW Air’s website, they describe Baltimore Airport as “Washington D.C. BWI.”

British Airways describes it as “Washington DC, Baltimore.”

Baltimore is not Washington DC. Then again, neither is Washington Dulles. So yeah, I don’t really know where the line should be drawn.

Do you guys think it’s fair for Melbourne Airport to describe itself as Orlando Melbourne International Airport?

Comments

  1. I know someone who booked into MLB rather than MCO due to this, so I guess there’s some justification here.

  2. As someone who lives in Melbourne, without traffic, MCO is only 45-50 mins away. As someone who grew up in New York, it can take longer to get to JFK/LGA from NYC lol. MLB is definitely a good alternative to flying into Orlando but from all the time I spend comparing airfare between MLB and MCO, MLB is RARELY cheaper, and will have to be at least 1 stop to get here, as DL flies to ATL and AA CLT (and upcoming to DCA/PHL i believe).

    In summary, MCO is 99% cheaper than MLB and offers a ton more direct flights so not sure why MCO feels threatened here. anyways, just my two cents

  3. I tend to view airport names as whether or not people who live nearby would commute on a daily basis to the central business district (CBD) of the city it serves. I think it is more important to focus on distance the airport is from the CBD or major attractions, than how far it is from the other airports. For instance, plenty of people near BWI commute to either Baltimore or Washington. The airport is on a commuter rail that connects both cities, so it would make sense that tourists would utilize this airport. I highly doubt many people are commuting daily from Melbourne to downtown Orlando. Anyone flying into MLB doesn’t care how far they are from MCO, but instead how far they are from their final destination in the Orlando metro area. If they need to go to the Villages or Disney — GOOD LUCK.

  4. I used to live in Melbourne, and like Michael said, the northern part of the town is only a 45 minute drive from Orlando International.

    Orlando is 30 minutes inland from the ocean, but often bills itself as a “gateway” to the beaches. Melbourne is on the ocean, so if Orlando International wants to try to poach Melbourne’s beachgoers, I say turnabout is fair play.

    Also, Orlando Sanford International (SFB) isn’t in Orlando and isn’t any more convenient to the city than MLB, but nobody at MCO seems to complain about that.

  5. I live just north of Orlando, and I have no problem with MLB advertising as an Orlando airport, because it’s actually not a terrible alternative. Also, you would have be very unaware to mistake it for Orlando Int.

  6. I live 5 minutes from Orlando airport and I don’t think Melbourne airport should be using Orlando Melbourne airport. Sanford airport is in Orlando vicinity and they don’t use Orlando Sanford airport.

  7. Ryanair also had problems for calling Memmingen airport ‘Munich West’ and they were prohibited from misleading people who thought they were landing in Munich.

    Next!

  8. Maybe Melbourne, Australia could sue them too for tricking people into thinking they have a cheap flight to Australia. Then no names left.

  9. Newark was once ‘the’ New York airport, and Mayor LaGuardia pulled a stunt where he refused to get off there because his ticket *said* New York.
    https://viewfromthewing.boardingarea.com/2018/05/31/united-wants-to-return-to-new-york-jfk-and-doesnt-know-how-to-do-it/

    Meanwhile Baltimore’s Friendship Airport WAS the long haul airport for the DC area, before Dulles was built. Here’s the crazy way they got the three letters “BWI” https://viewfromthewing.boardingarea.com/2019/02/26/the-strange-story-of-how-baltimores-friendship-airport-became-bwi/

  10. I went to school in Melbourne. We used to do day trips to Orlando for something to do, but in no universe would I consider Melbourne to be part of the greater Orlando metro area. When they changed the name I thought it was stupid since it was likely to confuse unsuspecting tourists.

  11. I would feel better about MLB’s name if they would call themselves Melbourne/Orlando Airport rather than putting “Orlando” first in the name. I was looking to book an airport hotel at MCO on one of the hotel booking sites (I cannot remember which one) but I was on my cell phone and in an extreme hurry. I came within one click of booking a non-refundable room at an airport hotel near Orlando Melbourne International Airport. So it’s not just flyers who may be deceived by this naming practice.

  12. if i was the Melbourne folks, i’d respond to this silly grievance by applying to IATA for a new airport designated name to replace ‘MLB’: “GFY Orlando Airport”

  13. Miguel – No matter where you look up the Sanford airport, it’s called “Orlando Sanford”. It’s prominent on the airport’s own website.

    It’s about a 40 minute drive from Sanford to Orlando International. It was about a 50 minute drive from my house in northern Melbourne to Orlando International.

  14. Just think of all the disappointed people who discover that Ontario International Airport isn’t in Canada…

  15. Orlando is the kind of destination people who rarely travel still want to visit. That makes this worse than most intentionally misrepresented airports. Anytime I hear “Florida” and “without traffic” I know someone is about to tell me some cherrypicked nonsense.

  16. There is only one real Melbourne Airport and that is in my home country, Australia, they should be suing these imposters.

    Also, I was amused with this line in this story: “American Airlines describes their domestic first class catering as ‘healthy, delicious and customized’.” If that’s what American says then they should be sued for misleading information and advertising. Who are they kidding and I’m talking about the up front cabin? Laughable!

  17. Don’t forget Chicago Rockford Airport, which is about 80 miles from Chicago. It’s mostly a UPS cargo hub with some Allegiant and Apple passenger flights.

  18. Having lived in both counties back in the ‘90’s, this name (change) is absolutely meant to be confusing to the uninformed. Melbourne is nowhere near Orlando. Melbourne will lose this lawsuit.

  19. I think this is a silly lawsuit that may actually benefit Melbourne Airport as is now getting free publicity. As has already been noted, none of the 3 Washington, DC airports are actually in DC, and many other airports go by the known name of the city they are closest to, for example, London Gatwick is nowhere near London and unless the name Orlando is trademarked, I don’t see why Melbourne Airport, shouldn’t be allowed to call themselves Orlando Melbourne

  20. Rather than compare it to Boston or Washington why don’t you find some people who actually got confused and booked the wrong airport? It does happen, more than just a few times, so you don’t have to just ‘question the extent’ just because you would know better yourself. Because unlike all your example cities, foreigners go to Orlando in massive numbers for the theme parks and there’s even a third airport with Orlando in the name (Sanford), so of course it’s very confusing if you don’t know better.

  21. BWI is not a comparison at all. The DMV is a large metroplex that is served by three airports. As a Washingtonian I use them all depending on fares, schedule, etc. Dulles I mainly only use for Intl. BWI though can often be just as fast to get to as Dulles, especially if you live in the Logan Circle area or the booming NE sections of the district. Also, the BA flight from BWI is a gem and a lot of people in the city use it…nice new 787, empty customs, fast baggage and NO MOBILE LOUNGES like at Dulles when deplaning. The lounge is atrocious though so I tend a lot to fly out of Dulles and into BWI when on BA

  22. The funny thing is that Daytona Beach is consider by the Federal Government to be part of the Orlando Combined Metropolitan Statistical Area but Melbourne is not. Maybe Daytona Beach should change the name of their airport just to mess with MCO.

  23. @Alex,
    Agree BWI is not in Baltimore, it is in Anne Arundel County MD, not Baltimore County or City
    And Washington DC has no airports.
    Washington Reagan National is in Arlington VA
    Washington Dulles is 25 miles away from DC in Herndon VA – with the airport area now called Dulles, VA.

    What is wrong with putting Orlando in the name of an airport 70 miles away. If cheaper to fly there then maybe an option (but I don’t think it is cheaper).

  24. I love in Melbourne and travel through MLB for work almost every week. When traveling Midwest or eastern states, I’ll gladly connect in ATL or CLT using MLB as my origin. But those are the only options. MLB doesn’t have any other airlines of note – United, Southwest, JetBlue, etc., have all snubbed this airport.

    I actually wish DL and other airlines would let MLB and MCO act as Co-terminals.

    Arguably, MLB is closer to Disney beach resorts and cruises. So if people are flying to Orlando for these things, then why not let MLB be considered in the same light as MCO. As others have noted, if MCO can claim beach access, why can’t MLB claim Orlando Access?

    Also of particular note… there are more Orlando-based Southwest pilots in my neighborhood than any other employer. They argue that if they lived on the far side of Orlando, they’d be further from MCO than if they lived in northern Melbourne.

    PS- MLB is actually named one of the top. 10 most scenic landings. And it’s true! Beautiful coastal city to fly into. In the end, I hope this just results in additional press and notariaty for MLB.

  25. Good for Orlando; there are lots of precedent that it is confusing and illegal.

    Question — why didn’t the DOT block this to begin with? Are they just completely checked out?

  26. Nothing beats confusing Sydney, Nova Scotia (YQY) and that other Sydney (SYD), which does happen from time to time when people book flights.

    As for BWI, I’ve never been to the British West Indies. Maybe one day.

  27. MCO is CHEAPER.
    This isn’t like Ryanair 15 years ago, advertising BVA as just “Paris” while the place is a tiny hanger with limited access to Paris. Melbourne is clearly in the name.

    NRT is also nowhere near Tokyo.

    I guess they had a nightmare that Ryanair is flying the 737 MAX to MLB from STN

  28. SMH! American people love to sue for everything! Look at Tokyo Narita a great example – I should sue Japan for false naming Tokyo Narita airport – almost 100km away from central Tokyo to airport.

  29. Another Melbourne resident here. I fly about a dozen times a year, and very rarely do I fly out of MLB. I drive the extra hour to save several hundred dollars and the ability to fly non-stop to most of my usual destinations.

    As for the name, yeah I think calling itself part of Orlando is rather dubious. What’s preposterous is calling itself “international”. It’s really just a regional airport which hubs out of either Atlanta or Charlotte. It has at most maybe a dozen arrivals a day.

  30. @John: “What’s preposterous is calling itself “international”. It’s really just a regional airport which hubs out of either Atlanta or Charlotte. It has at most maybe a dozen arrivals a day.”

    The designation of an airport as an international airport has everything to do with the presence of US Customs facilities and nothing to do with whether it has international commercial flights. Given its proximity to several foreign countries, having customs agents there is frankly not surprising.

  31. It happens in Europe all the time. “Paris” is in reality Beauvais, “Milan” is Bergamo, “Barcelona” is Gerona and so on

  32. @Mike: there are “international airports” designated in the Code of Federal Regulations, but the term “international airport” is by and large meaningless. I did not see ORD or JFK listed in the CFR, for instance. Perhaps I just missed it.

    On the other hand, the use of the term “international airport” can even be a joke. Bolingbrook’s Clow International Airport (1C5) is a small general aviation airport near ORD, and I can assure you there has never been a US Customs facility there. (The late Boyd Clow named his private airport ” Clow International” decades ago and it stuck because everyone thought it was funny.)

  33. Until recently, I used to joke that Toronto put the international in Nashville international airport (BNA), since that was the only non-us destination. They didn’t even have customs!

  34. Wondering why you had to drag American Airlines in this . LOL
    I like the warm nuts on AA first class

  35. While we’re at it, how close to an airport should a hotel be able to advertise itself as an “airport hotel”?

  36. It’s cute that Orlando is having a crack at Melbourne Orlanda airport. Nobody has had a crack at London Ashford airport which is 60miles away from London, 20 miles from Ashford and is actually closer to France than London across the English channel.
    https://youtu.be/AbAal7jIWQ4

  37. On the legal side, I doubt GOAA will be able to produce sufficient evidence to obtain a ruling in its favor. There’s too many airports in the US alone that are well outside of the main city that they are named to serve.

    I suspect that GOAA’s motive here is to prevent a domino effect of other nearby airports all starting to include “Orlando” in their name. MLB alone is a total non-threat to MCO, but if MLB, DAB, Lakeland (LAL) and even Kissimmee (ISM) all started throwing “Orlando” in their name, it could take a measurable toll. A lingering concern may be that David Neeleman’s new startup airline (working title “Moxy”) is looking to use airports overlooked by the big guys.

    I do agree with the commenter above that, due to the fact that due to the type of destination that Orlando is, it attracts a disproportionately high amount of very infrequent leisure flyers- the very people who are the most likely to be confused by the allowing the Orlando Melbourne name to stand. That is probably GOAA’s best argument to show why this situation should not be viewed in the same light as other airports whose names aren’t true to their actual geographic location.

  38. It’s not unusual for companies to get a little greedy when it comes to the ways in which they promote their products. For example, American Airlines describes their domestic first class catering as “healthy, delicious and customized.”

    I died hahahahaha

  39. As a resident in Nova, I get the BWI , DCA and IAD. I also understand this happens in some airports across Europe, Asia and South America, and possibly other regions. Although there are more, example in Europe would be like TXL and BER, NRT and HND in Japan, and GRU and CGH in Brazil. Because BWI, DCA, and IAD. I never looked the airport simply by name when I’m traveling to a new place. I always look at google maps to see how far they are from the place I’m intending to stay, and then take in to consideration price, availability, convenience, airport quality/infrastructure, etc…
    I can understand, that maybe, for people that haven’t traveled much this is a legit concern. So were we drawn a line about name? Must it be in the actually city/district? How far is “too” far? etc…

  40. Being from Melbourne, I find it hard to believe anyone could confuse the two, especially when they are tourists and try to find nearby transportation or hotels.

  41. @David: “there are “international airports” designated in the Code of Federal Regulations, but the term “international airport” is by and large meaningless. I did not see ORD or JFK listed in the CFR, for instance. Perhaps I just missed it.”

    The list of designated international airports in the CFR is not exhaustive – it only covers those airports given that designation by the Treasury Department. The designation may also be given by the Commissioner of Customs or several other agencies, but by and large, the ones you aren’t seeing on the CFR, such as ORD or LAX, are the ones that are given that designation by US Customs.

    (The Bolingbrook airport example is nothing more than an outlier, in my opinion, and really shouldn’t be taken as an exception to much of anything.)

    @Howard: “Until recently, I used to joke that Toronto put the international in Nashville international airport (BNA), since that was the only non-us destination. They didn’t even have customs!”

    Though you do go through US Customs at the pre-clearance facility at YYZ, BNA is still required to have Customs facilities on the other end as a condition of receiving the flight. In other words – just because you didn’t see them and didn’t go through Customs there, doesn’t mean that they don’t have the facilities, which is part of being designated an international airport by CBP.

    https://www.cbp.gov/contact/ports/nashville-tennessee-2007

  42. @John- Aside from the statements around “International” airport designations, MLB does have multiple international flights operating daily/weekly via Porter Airlines to multiple Canadian destination and the Bahamas via Elite Airlines

  43. @VieraFlyer,

    I stand corrected. After downloading and reviewing the airports extensive arriving flight schedule for the whole month of March (the entire single page of it), you are correct. At least about Porter which has 4-5 flights on Saturdays and 1 flight on Wednesdays for Canada. All the Elite flights are domestic.

    Maybe they could come up with a comprise and rename it Orlando-Melbourne Sometimes International Airport.

  44. Could they also stop using the Melbourne bit as well? Super annoying when booking flights to
    MEL on the other side of the world!

  45. Assuming most families coming to Orlando are visiting the theme parks, Melbourne can easily be a 2 hour drive if traffic doesn’t cooperate. I was born in Orlando…Melbourne is nowhere near close enough to be considered Orlando. That said, anyone booking a trip that doesn’t look at Google Maps first to confirm where the airport is and make an informed decision……well…come on.

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