More people are flying, and Atlanta remains the busiest hub in the world for the 17th consecutive year, according to Airports Council International. The 2018 World’s Busiest Airports report discovered the 20 busiest terminals served 5.2% more passengers than in 2016.
In 2017 alone, the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport served over 103 million arriving and departing passengers. This was around 8 million more than the second-busiest airport, in Beijing, and 19 million more than the second-busiest American airport: Los Angeles International Airport.
Atlanta saw over 879,000 takeoffs and landings, while Chicago O’Hare — home of United Airlines — had over 867,000 moves. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, American Airlines’ home base, had over 650,000 aircraft movements.
» Learn more: Can a credit card can help you speed through airport security?
The traffic mirrors a sharp increase in American travel habits compared to previous years. In May, Airlines for America projected 246 million passengers were expected between June 1 and August 31, or roughly 2.7 million people per day. American Airlines’ busiest day was June 30, when they flew over 700,000 passengers across 6,900 flights.
Besides serving as Delta Air Lines’ world headquarters, Atlanta has some geographic reasons for their traffic volume. The airport is a two-hour flight from 80 percent of the United States population, making it a convenient layover for many flyers.
A stronger U.S. economy also encouraged more Americans to fly across the country. Los Angeles International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport were all in the top 12 busiest airports worldwide.
With more people flying, getting to the airport earlier is critical to ensuring a smooth flight. To ensure a smooth transition, those who don’t have TSA Precheck should arrive at least 90 minutes ahead of their takeoff time. For international departures, that time should be extended to two hours or more.
Compared to international passenger traffic, the United States is behind other nations. Dubai International Airport, home of Emirates, was the busiest for international passenger traffic. The terminal saw just under 88 million passengers arriving from and departing to other nations in 2017. London Heathrow Airport came in second, with some 14 million fewer international travelers than Dubai. Hong Kong, Amsterdam and Paris Charles de Gaulle International Airport rounded out the top five.
The only American airport on the international traffic list was New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. Ranking 19th among the top 20, JFK served 32 million international arriving and departing passengers. Traffic there increased by 2.1% from the previous year.
How to maximize your rewardsYou want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2020, including those best for:
- Airline miles and a large bonus: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- No annual fee: The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
- Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
- Premium travel rewards: The Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Business travelers: The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Landing the Best Airfare Is a Matter of Timing
How to Snag Credit Card Rewards Flights in Peak Season
This Strategy is How I Started Earning Major Travel Rewards