Avid travellers get to know their favourite airports. Ones that have the best quiet spots (hello, Schiphol in Amsterdam), ones with the best shopping (Dubai has that won easily, with Heathrow close behind) and the most delicious food (Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport takes the top spot in our books). And they are the best in certain areas because they have high traffic, a large amount of layovers and millions of travellers cycle through their gates each year. But do you know which airports take top honours when it comes to being the busiest with passengers? These are the top 5. Plan your travels accordingly … the busiest airports can have amazing efficiencies (and be great for people watching), but you may want to also give yourself some extra time to make your way through these incredibly bustling and busy airports.
1. Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) in Atlanta, Georgia
Traffic: Over 94 million passengers
A major connecting port in the United States for not only domestic flights from coast to coast and through the mid-west, it’s also a stopping spot for those on their way further south to Central and South America (and is even a popular layover for planes landing from Canada en route to southern destinations).
2. Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) in Chaoyang, Beijing, China
Traffic: Over 83 million passengers
A traditional stopping port into Asia, this airport is always bustling with streams and streams of business and leisure travellers. It’s the gateway to other big destinations on the continent – from Hong Kong to Bangkok and to Indonesia.
3. Heathrow Airport (LHR) in London, United Kingdom
Traffic: Over 72 million passengers
Who hasn’t had a stop over at Heathrow at some point or another? A connecting point for not only every smaller UK destination, but it’s also a hub for North Americans making their way to Europe. With high end shopping (think Burberry and Paul Smith), high street finds and traditional Brit food options, it’s always a favourite.
4. Tokyo International Airport (HND) in Ōta, Tokyo, Japan
Traffic: Over 68 million passengers
Possibly one of the most efficient airports in the world, Tokyo moves thousands of people each day and is a central Asia hub. Just when you think your delayed flight could only mean you miss your connection, the staff at this airportyou’re your name and is escorting you through speedy security to catch your next flight. Most North American flights will make a stop here for connections into Thailand, China, Indonesia and even through to Australia.
5. O’Hare International Airport (ORD) in Chicago, Illinois, United States
Traffic: Over 66 million passengers
The second North American airport to crack the busiest airports in the world list isn’t JFK, La Guardia or even Los Angeles (even though it does come in at number 6). It’s Chicago – the prime mid-western location that is also a popular layover spot for most airline carriers. It’s the mid way point through the United States, and also a typical change over for flights going on to Europe coming from the west coast and Asian coming from the east coast).