Business Treaveler logo

Travel news, reviews and intel for high-flyers

Plaza Premium Celebrates Orlando International Airport Lounge Anniversary

Plaza Premium Group celebrated the company's 25th anniversary with a panel on the future of travel at its flagship lounge in Orlando International Airport

by Enrique Perrella

January 29, 2024

Photo: Courtesy of Plaza Premium Group

In the bustling heart of Orlando International Airport’s state-of-the-art Terminal C, the Plaza Premium Group marked its lounge’s first anniversary with a dynamic discussion on the future of travel.

Esteemed leaders, including Pascal Belanger, Senior VP of Americas for Plaza Premium Group; Kevin Thibault, CEO of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority; and George Edwards, VP of Guest Experience for Brightline Trains, gathered for an insightful panel moderated by Enrique Perrella, Aviation Director for Business Traveler.

Plaza Premium Lounge’s Impact

The conversation commenced with Belanger heralding Plaza Premium as a flagship brand, expressing its pivotal role in reshaping airport hospitality in the U.S. “We’re still in our infancy in the U.S., and we put a lot of resources behind this,” he emphasized. The group operates more than 250 lounges in 85 countries but only two in the U.S.


The Plaza Premium Lounge, nestled in the new $2.8-billion Terminal C, not only celebrates its first anniversary but also marks Plaza Premium Group’s 25th year.

Belanger proudly shared the success story of the lounge since its inception. “We are one of the most profitable concessions at this terminal,” he revealed. “Our numbers are up: we have welcomed over 200,000 guests in 2023, and we have been named the sixth-best Priority Pass lounge in the world.”

Photo: Courtesy of Plaza Premium Group

With a commitment to excellence, Plaza Premium Group strives to showcase the limitless possibilities of what airports can achieve. Situated in the vibrant Palm Court area on the departure level, the Plaza Premium Lounge offers an exclusive retreat adorned with stunning floor-to-ceiling windows, elegant decorations, and prominent signs. The lounge is also purposely designed to cater to the large number of kids that travel through Orlando, with spacious recreation areas and a cook-to-order kids-meal kitchen.

Exclusive to passengers traveling through Terminal C, the lounge caters to 13 airlines, including Aer Lingus, Azul, British Airways, Emirates, Icelandair, Lufthansa, and JetBlue, serving diverse international flights.

Terminal Transformation: A Paradigm Shift in Airport Design

Transitioning seamlessly to Terminal C’s metamorphosis, CEO Kevin Thibault shed light on the airport’s infrastructure development, focusing on the comprehensive renovation of Terminal C to alleviate traveler stress.

Photo: George Edwards (right) and Kevin Thibault (left). Plaza Premium Lounge, Orlando. Courtesy of JFS Media

Thibault expressed pride in the terminal’s success and revealed plans for some international carriers from Terminals A and B to relocate to the new facility soon, which will also witness an expansion with six additional gates, increasing its annual passenger capacity to 12 million.

Thibault lauded the innovative baggage system of Terminal C, featuring an early bag storage facility and soon-to-be-introduced self-bag-drop, allowing travelers to check in their luggage, even if arriving early seamlessly.

Photo: Terminal C. Courtesy of Orlando International Airport

The top-floor baggage arrivals area offers a breathtaking view of Orlando’s natural beauty, enhancing the overall travel experience, while the early bag storage space, accommodating up to 1,800 bags, stands as the first of its kind for MCO.

Terminal C’s design revolves around enhancing passenger comfort, featuring skylights running along the building’s length, flooding the terminal with natural light.

The second level houses departures, ticketing, and security, ensuring a seamless journey complemented by navigational wayfinding signs and MCO App beacons, facilitating a stress-free expedition through the well-thought-out layout.

Photo: Terminal C. Courtesy of Orlando International Airport

Thibault emphasized the pivotal role of Terminal C in accommodating Orlando’s surging passenger traffic, stating, “Last year, we finished the year with just under 58 million passengers, so more than Miami or any other airport in the state.”

As the airport continues to evolve, innovations like reserved parking and seamless baggage transfers are poised to enhance the traveler experience further.

Brightline: Pioneering Sustainable Transit

Shifting gears, George Edwards highlighted Brightline’s transformative impact on regional connectivity and sustainability. Proudly sharing that Brightline has carried over 5 million passengers in South Florida over the past four years, Edwards emphasized the company’s commitment to a sustainable future.

Photo: Plaza Premium Lounge, Orlando. Courtesy of JFS Media

“We have 16 departures per day, meaning there are 32 trips between Orlando and Miami,” he explained, underlining the ease and accessibility of the train service.

Brightline’s resilience to weather conditions and its reliability in the wake of airline safety concerns—particularly the recent Boeing 737 MAX grounding—position it as a complementary, rather than a competing, mode of transportation.

Photo: Courtesy of Brightline

Edwards also detailed Brightline’s focus on expanding existing lines, with a Treasure Coast station taking precedence. The company envisions seamless intermodal connections, partnering with baggage operators to offer travelers a seamless plane-to-train or train-to-cruise journey. 

The Brightline executive also hinted that future plans include extending the company’s service to the Tampa area and include new stops on its already popular Orlando-Miami route.

Brightline / Photo: Courtesy of Brightline

As the panel discussion concluded, it became evident that Central Florida’s transportation landscape is undergoing a profound transformation, marked by innovation, sustainability, and an unwavering commitment to passenger satisfaction.

From the sophisticated Plaza Premium Lounge to the sleek efficiency of Terminal C and the pioneering sustainability of Brightline trains, every facet of the traveler’s journey is being reimagined for the better.

With visionary leaders steering this transformation, the future of travel in Central Florida promises not just excellence but an exhilarating adventure.