The 10 Busiest Airports in the World

February 1, 2024

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A United Airlines plane on the runway

We’ve come a long way since the first airplane successfully took off in 1903. Today, aviation connects people, cultures, and businesses across all continents and it is one of the fastest, safest, and most convenient ways to travel.

Around 100,000 flights take off and land every single day around the globe. But what are the world’s busiest airports? In this article, we’ll reveal all.

According to data from Airports Council International, the 10 busiest airports in the world, based on total passenger numbers for 2022, are:

RankAirportCountryNumber of Passengers (2022)Percentage Change from 2021
1Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)United States93,699,63023.8%
2Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)United States73,362,94617.5%
3Denver International Airport (DEN)United States69,286,46117.8%
4Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)United States68,340,61926.5%
5Dubai International Airport (DXB)United Arab Emirates66,069,981127.0%
6Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)United States65,924,29837.3%
7Istanbul Airport (IST)Turkey64,289,10773.8%
8London Heathrow Airport (LHR)United Kingdom61,614,230217.7%
9Indira Gandhi Delhi International Airport (DEL)India59,490,07460.2%
10Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG)France57,474,033119.4%

As you can see, the United States dominates this list with a total of five airports in the top ten, four of which are in the top five.

Keep reading to discover more about each of these airports.

1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)

Aerial view of the airport and runways of Hartsfield-Jackson Airport
Aerial view of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Country: United States
Number of passengers (2022): 93,699,630
Percentage change from 2021: +23.8%

The busiest airport in the world is Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, with almost 93.7 million passengers in 2022. 

Atlanta has been a busy airport since it opened in 1926.  By the end of 1930, it was the third-busiest airport in the world, and — based on passenger traffic — it’s been the world’s busiest airport since 1998.

Located 10 miles south of Downtown Atlanta, the airport covers 4,700 acres and has five runways. It is the primary hub of Delta Air Lines and a focus destination for budget carriers like Frontier Airlines and Southwest Airlines.

Passengers seeking pre or post-flight refreshments can choose from over 100 of the airport’s eateries, from the upmarket restaurant One Flew South to comfort food at Chicken + Beer.

2. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)

View from a plan coming in to land at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
Aerial view of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
Country: United States
Number of passengers (2022): 73,362,946
Percentage change from 2021: +17.5%

With a footfall of more than 73.3 million in 2022, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is the second-busiest in the world. 

The airport was built between the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth in 1973, and, at 17,207 acres, it is the US’s second-largest airport by land area after Denver International Airport. Due to its sheer size, the airport could be considered a city in itself — especially considering it has its own post office ZIP code and its own police, fire protection, and emergency medical services.

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is the largest hub for American Airlines, which also has its headquarters near the airport.

The airport has a wide selection of drinking and dining options throughout its five terminals, serving everything from fast food, beer, and snacks to sophisticated sit-down meals with wine to coffee and milkshakes.

Passengers traveling through this airport don’t need to worry about passing the time, as there are plenty of additional amenities, including suites for napping, a spa offering a range of treatments, and a children’s play area.

3. Denver International Airport (DEN)

Plane on the runway at Denver International Airport
View of snow-capped Rocky Mountains from Denver International Airport
Country: United States
Number of passengers (2022): 69,286,461
Percentage change from 2021: +17.8%

The world’s third-busiest airport is Denver International Airport, which saw just shy of 69.3 million travelers in 2022.

Since it opened in 1995, the airport has grown to become the largest in the United States and the second-largest in the world after King Fahd International Airport in Saudi Arabia. Covering 33,531 acres, it also boasts the longest public-use runway in North America and the seventh-longest in the world: Runway 16R/34L, which is a massive 16,000 feet long.

Denver International Airport is a major hub for United Airlines and the largest operating base for Southwest Airlines and Frontier Airlines.

Again, passengers have a range of options when it comes to grabbing a bite to eat before or after their flights, whether they want a proper sit-down breakfast, a quick sandwich or sushi for lunch, an Italian or Mexican meal for dinner, or just a sweet treat in the form of a milkshake or ice-cream.

Some of the airport’s standout amenities include three outdoor decks, an extensive art collection, and an ice skating rink and performances during the holidays.

4. Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)

American Airlines plane docked at a terminal at Chicago O'Hare terminal
American Airlines plane at the terminal in Chicago O’Hare International Airport
Country: United States
Number of passengers (2022): 68,340,619
Percentage change from 2021: +26.5%

Another US airport, Chicago O’Hare is located on the northwest side of Chicago, about 17 miles from the city’s business district.

The airport, which began as an airfield during World War II, was renamed Orchard Field Airport in the mid-1940s and then renamed again in 1949 to honor aviator Edward “Butch” O’Hare’s innovative design concepts, which included direct highway access to the terminal, passenger boarding bridges, and underground refueling systems. From 1963 to 1998, Chicago O’Hare was the world’s busiest airport based on passenger traffic, and while it is currently only fourth on the list, it is a major hub for United Airlines and American Airlines, as well as a focus destination for Spirit Airlines.

From Chicago dogs and tortas to seafood and sushi, there’s a variety of food options to ensure passengers don’t get hungry while waiting for their flights, plus there’s enough entertainment to prevent them from getting bored. As well as a play area for children, there’s a yoga room and urban garden, and the Hilton Hotel sells day passes to access its gym, steam room, sauna, and swimming pool.

5. Dubai International Airport (DXB)

Plane taking off from Dubai Airport
View from a plane taking off from Dubai International Airport
Country: United Arab Emirates
Number of passengers (2022): 66,069,981
Percentage change from 2021: +127%

Dubai International Airport saw just over 66 million travelers pass through its terminals in 2022, making it the fifth-busiest airport in the world.

The airport has undergone huge expansion since it opened in 1960, and now spans 7,200 acres of land. A second terminal was constructed in 1998 and a third followed in 2004. Terminal 1 is used by more than 100 international airlines, Terminal 2 is used by charter and special-use flights, and Terminal 3 — the largest airport terminal in the world and the world’s second-largest building by floor space — is for the United Arab Emirates’s flag carrier, Emirates, which handles 51 percent of the airport’s total passenger traffic. Dubai International Airport is also the base for budget airline FlyDubai, which handles 13 percent of its total passenger traffic.

Hungry travelers can enjoy a sit-down meal at restaurants like Hard Rock Café or The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck, cake at coffee shops like Starbucks and Costa, or a burger at a fast food joint like Shake Shack.

Dubai is known as the “Shopping Capital of the Middle East”, which means it should come as no surprise to learn that the airport has more than enough to offer passengers in search of some retail therapy.

6. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

SAS A330-200 takes off from Los Angeles International Airport
A Scandinavian Airlines plane taking off at LAX
Country: United States
Number of passengers (2022): 65,924,298
Percentage change from 2021: +37.3%

Commonly referred to as L.A.X., Los Angeles International Airport, takes sixth place with just under 66 million passengers in 2022. 

It is the fifth United States airport to appear on this list, and its location on America’s West Coast makes it a gateway to many international destinations in Asia and Australasia, as well as Mexico and Central America.

Constructed on a 640-acre field in 1928, the airport may have had a modest start, but today it covers 3,500 acres, has four runways, and is a major hub or focus destination for more passenger airlines than any other United States airport.

Some of the airport’s best dining options include seafood at Slapfish, Mexican cuisine at Border Grill, burgers at Umami Burger, and comfort food at Lemonade.

There are also plenty of art installations throughout the airport to keep passengers entertained.

7. Istanbul Airport (IST)

View of planes docked at Istanbul Airport
Planes docked at terminals at Istanbul Airport
Country: Turkey
Number of passengers (2022): 64,289,107
Percentage change from 2021: +73.8%

The seventh-busiest airport in the world and the busiest airport in Europe is Istanbul Airport, with almost 64.3 million people traveling through it in 2022.

Located on Istanbul’s European side, in the Arnavutköy district, it opened in 2019 to replace Atatürk Airport and is becoming ever bigger and better than its predecessor. If all goes to plan, the airport will eventually cover 18,880 acres and feature six runways.

Istanbul Airport is the largest of the city’s two international airports, and it is a major hub for several airlines, including Turkey’s flag carrier, Turkish Airlines.

Travelers in need of refreshments can get something to eat at a fast food joint like Shake Shack or Burger King, an Italian restaurant like Pizzeria Enzo, or one of the airport’s many traditional Turkish restaurants and coffee shops.

8. London Heathrow Airport (LHR)

Aerial view of London Heathrow Airport
Aerial view of a nearly empty Heathrow Airport taken during COVID
Country: United Kingdom
Number of passengers (2022): 61,614,230
Percentage change from 2021: +217.7%

It may have started as a small West London airfield in 1929, but London Heathrow Airport was developed into a much bigger airport after World War II, and over the past 75 years, it become the largest of London’s six international airports (the others are London Gatwick Airport, London City Airport, Luton Airport, London Stansted Airport, and London Southend Airport). Currently, Heathrow has four passenger terminals and two runways, but there are plans to build a fifth terminal and third runway. 

The airport is the primary hub for the UK’s flag carrier, British Airways, and it is a base for Virgin Atlantic.

Like all of the airports on this list, there are plenty of amenities for travelers, ranging from pubs and restaurants to coffee shops and fast food chains. Some even sell “lunchbox” style meals for travelers to enjoy on their flights.

9. Indira Gandhi Delhi International Airport (DEL)

Air India plane docked at a terminal at Delhi Airport
Air India plane docked at a terminal at Delhi Airport
Country: India
Number of passengers (2022): 59,490,074
Percentage change from 2021: +60.2%

When it opened in 1962, Indira Gandhi Delhi International Airport was called Palam Airport after the area where it was built. However, its name was changed to honor the former Prime Minister of India when a second terminal building was constructed in 1986 to cope with the increase in air traffic during the 1970s and 1980s. A third terminal was opened in 2010, making the airport India and South Asia’s largest aviation hub. It is also the Asia Pacific Region’s first carbon-neutral airport. 

Whether they want a quick bite or a leisurely meal, travelers passing through Indira Gandhi Delhi International Airport can benefit from a variety of cafes and restaurants.

In Terminal 3, there’s also a gaming room, a flight simulator, and a children’s play area.

10. Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG)

Planes docked at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport
Planes at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport
Country: France
Number of passengers (2022): 57,474,033
Percentage change from 2021: +119.4%

Rounding off the list of the 10 busiest airports in the world is Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, with almost 57.5 million passengers in 2022. 

Constructed in the late 1960s and located 14 miles northeast of Paris, it is the capital’s principal airport and France’s largest international airport. Charles de Gaulle is a major connecting airport for flights passing through Europe or heading to other European destinations, and when its fourth terminal opens in 2024, its footfall is expected to be much higher than it currently is.

The airport is the primary hub for the country’s flag carrier, Air France, as well as a hub for other international airlines, such as Delta and KLM.

Some popular places for passengers to eat at the airport include Pret A Manger, Paul, Brioche Dorée, I Love Paris by Guy Martin, and Cafe Eiffel. 

Data Sources:
Airports Council International: Passenger numbers 2022

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