What to Know About the World’s Busiest Airports
Anyone who's been stuck in a long security line or had to run between flights while fighting throngs of luggage-toting travelers understands how painful a crowded airport experience can be.
That's true for any airport, but especially for airports that receive millions of annual passengers. Wondering what those are? Here, we round up facts on the 20 busiest airports in the world ... while providing advice on how to survive and even enjoy them.
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20. Denver International Airport
Location: Denver, Colorado
Yearly passengers: 64.5 million
Millions of passengers visit Denver’s airport each year. And many, it seems, enjoy doing so. The airport consistently ranks among the best in the United States, thanks to its numerous dining and shopping options.
As the primary hub for Frontier Airlines, the Denver Airport boasts amenities like rotating art exhibits and bars serving local craft beers.
Where to stay: The Westin Denver International Airport
*Note: Due to the disruption in aviation travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are using 2019 passenger traffic numbers from Airports Council International.
19. Singapore Changi Airport
Yearly passengers: 65.6 million
Welcoming more than 60 million passengers and serving as the home base for Singapore Airlines, Singapore Airlines Cargo, Scoot, Jetstar Asia Airways and BOC Aviation is impressive. But arguably more impressive is the fact that this airport is consistently named the best in the world.
Industry experts love the airport's professionalism and memorable features, like the world's tallest indoor waterfall and a rooftop garden filled with sunflowers grown at an onsite nursery.
Where to stay: Crowne Plaza Changi Airport
18. Soekarno-Hatta International Airport
Location: Jakarta, Indonesia
Yearly passengers: 67 million
One of the busiest airports in the Southern Hemisphere, Jakarta serves as the main gateway into Indonesia and many of its thousands of islands. It's also a major connecting point to important destinations in East and Southeast Asia.
Those planning a trip to explore Indonesia will love the airport’s scene-setting local touches, including tropical gardens between the waiting areas and design details in the Javanese pendopoand joglostyles.
Where to stay: Anara Airport Hotel
17. Istanbul Airport
Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Yearly passengers: 68.2 million
Located on the European side of Turkey's most popular city, Istanbul Airport makes almost every other transit hub seem like a shack. Not only does it have a full-fledged mall filled with duty-free designer stores and souvenir shops, but it also has showers, a hotel inside the terminal and even a museum.
Plus, if you're flying Turkish Airlines, you'll be happy to have a long layover at this airport. The impressive stopover program lets you do a free (yes, completely free) tour of the city that includes transportation, meals, guides and entrances to landmarks like the Hagia Sophia and Dolmabahce Palace. Staying overnight? Eligible flyers could also get a free night at a nearby hotel.
Where to stay: Yotelair Istanbul Airport
16. Incheon International Airport
Location: Seoul, South Korea
Yearly passengers: 68.4 million
Incheon is the main hub for Korean Air, Jeju Air and Polar Air Cargo. It is also an airport of the highest quality, with an astounding array of amenities, including an ice-skating rink, a spa, a casino, a movie theatre and a golf course accessible via a five-minute complimentary shuttle ride.
But perhaps the most pleasantly shocking thing about Incheon is that you'll find delicious Korean food at prices that match that of the city. Quick! Someone tell American airports that they're not obligated to charge absurd prices for bad food.
Where to stay: Grand Hyatt Incheon
15. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
Location: Dallas, Texas
Yearly passengers: 69.1 million
As they say in Texas, go big or go home. In addition to Texas drawing global travelers, the airport is an American Airlines’ hub — the second-largest airline hub in the world, after Atlanta’s for Delta.
Dallas' airport is also rich with art, featuring the work of artists from the local community and around the world. Stunning sculptures, mosaics and paintings are common sights in International Terminal D and the Skylink station.
Where to stay: Grand Hyatt DFW
14. Frankfurt Airport
Location: Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Yearly passengers: 69.5 million
Frankfurt is the hub for Lufthansa, and it’s also the headquarters for Star Alliance, which includes major players like Air China, Turkish Airlines and United Airlines.
Those who hate layovers should take note: Frankfurt is known to offer an impressive number of nonstop routes. It also comes outfitted with distinctive amenities, like a visitors’ terrace overlooking takeoffs and landings and a hip graffiti wall well-suited to the edgy-artsy city it serves.
Where to stay: NH Frankfurt Airport
13. Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport
Location: Guangzhou, China
Yearly passengers: 69.8 million
Guangzhou is China's largest hub for air transport, serving China Southern Airlines, FedEx Express, Hainan Airlines and Shenzhen Airlines.
Like its counterpart in Beijing, the airport is a tech wonder. It used cutting-edge facial recognition systems to expedite check-in long before other airports started adopting them.
Where to stay: Pullman Guangzhou Baiyun Airport
12. Indira Gandhi International Airport
Location: New Delhi, India
Yearly passengers: 69.9 million
Though the Safdarjung Airport also serves New Delhi, Indira Gandhi International Airport receives more traffic. If you're flying internationally, this is likely where you'll land.
The airport is known for being impeccable and offering amenities like sleeping pods and two onsite spas.
Where to stay: Andaz Delhi Aerocity- Concept by Hyatt
11. Amsterdam Airport Schipol
Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Yearly passengers: 71.1 million
This hub for KLM, the flag carrier for the Netherlands, is well aware that many of the people who land in it are there for layovers. And it has made sure to make the experience more pleasant by offering a large number of restaurants and cafes for weary travelers.
But for those lucky enough to be visiting the pretty capital, you can easily get to the city by train or bus in under an hour.
Where to stay: Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schipol
10. Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport
Location: Paris, France
Yearly passengers: 72.2 million
This airport boasts a noble inspiration for its name: Charles de Gaulle was a general who led the French Resistance against Nazi Germany during World War II. Today, the distinguished-sounding airport serves as the primary hub for Air France, which helps explain its high passenger count.
It should come as little surprise that this Parisian airport also prides itself on offering first-rate dining. In addition to charming bistros, a handful of restaurants serve gourmet fare like caviar and fresh seafood.
Where to stay: citizenM Paris Charles de Gaulle
9. Shanghai Pudong International Airport
Location: Shanghai, China
Yearly passengers: 74 million
The primary hub for China Eastern Airlines, Shanghai Pudong competes with Hongqiao International Airport for the attention of travelers. Though both are international airports, Pudong receives the most traffic of the two.
If you have the choice, this is where you want to fly into, mostly to be able to ride the fastest train in the world.
Where to stay: Moonlo Hotel
8. Hong Kong International Airport
Location: Shanghai, China
Yearly passengers: 74 million
Hong Kong International serves as the largest air cargo hub in the world and is a hub for Oneworld Alliance, which counts American Airlines, British Airways, Japan Airlines and Qantas among its members.
Luckily, the airport knows how to keep its globetrotters entertained. The airport features an IMAX screen that’s the largest in Hong Kong, golf simulation games and the Aviation Discovery Centre, which explores the history of aviation in the territory. It also has some excellent dining options.
Where to stay: The Silveri Hong Kong - MGallery
7. Heathrow Airport
Location: London, United Kingdom
Yearly passengers: 80.1 million
The primary hub for British Airways and the primary operating base for Virgin Atlantic, this is the major gateway into the United Kingdom's capital. Though there are several airports in the city, including Gatwick Airport, Heathrow is the most convenient one in terms of distance to the center.
Spenders, take note: Heathrow has excellent shopping, with a diversity of options and high-class shops selling swag from Armani, Bulgari, Hermes, Prada and more.
Where to stay: Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow
6. O’Hare International Airport
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Yearly passengers: 83.3 million
Servicing Chicago alongside Midway Airport, O’Hare is a heavy-hitter that acts as the Midwest's most important hub. Also on tap: a 20-minute express train from the airport to downtown Chicago that makes it easy as pie to get right into the action.
O'Hare has been voted the best airport in the U.S., with a decent on-time record, 105 shops and an impressive 165 restaurants.
Where to stay: The Rose Chicago, Tapestry Collection By Hilton
5. Tokyo Haneda International Airport
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Yearly passengers: 87.1 million
Haneda serves as the primary base for Japan’s largest domestic airlines, Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways, making it the busiest of Tokyo’s two airports (the other is Narida Airport).
By all accounts, Haneda does a remarkably good job of accommodating the masses. It is clean, it has first-rate shopping and it boasts a striking mix of historical and modern architecture.
Where to stay: The Royal Park Hotel Tokyo Haneda
4. Los Angeles International Airport
Location: Los Angeles, California
Yearly passengers: 87.5 million
In addition to having one of the coolest airport codes in the industry, LAX is the only aviation hub for all three legacy U.S. airlines: American, Delta and United. And while most people looking to enjoy the glamorous city fly into here, it shares the burden with several other airports, like Hollywood Burbank Airport, John Wayne Airport, Long Beach Airport and Ontario International Airport.
The airport has a VIP terminal that features suites, private attendants and ferrying service to planes — perfect for the city’s pampered A-list stars.
Where to stay: H Hotel Los Angeles, Curio Collection by Hilton
3. Dubai International Airport, United Arab Emirates
Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Yearly passengers: 89.1 million
It should come as little surprise that the airport servicing fast-growing Dubai is third for passenger traffic. The city has become a major transportation hub, connecting the Middle East to the rest of the world. But more and more international travelers are also pouring in to see the modern city itself.
Need to catch some shut-eye before a flight? The airport offers igloo-style sleep pods and “SnoozeCubes” — cubicles with a bed, TV, storage and Wi-Fi. And if you have an overnight stay, there are plenty of good hotels near the airport.
Where to stay: Element Dubai Airport
2. Beijing Capital International Airport
Location: Beijing, China
Yearly passengers: 101 million
In addition to serving businesspeople and tourists coming into and out of Beijing — the world’s second most-populous city — this airport serves as a hub for Air China, the flag carrier for the People’s Republic of China.
Despite receiving over 100 million passengers, the airport beats the crowds with efficiency with technology meant to make processes faster. Still, wise people arrive at this airport earlier than usual.
1. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Yearly passengers: 107.4 million
This airport has been the busiest in the world for over 20 consecutive years. This is largely thanks to its status as the headquarters for Delta and as a focus city for Frontier, Southwest and Spirit. It's also within a two-hour flight of 80 percent of the United States population.
Since there’s a good chance you’ll be passing through its terminals at least once in the next few years, we suggest checking out its first-rate art collection. The airport hosts permanent and rotating exhibits for the benefit of passengers.