Terminal Velocity: These Are the 20 Busiest Airports in the World

Busy airport.
Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock.com

When you’re in a rush, any airport can seem like the world’s busiest airport.

But those that really make the top 20 busiest airports list are mostly bustling, big-city airports, often in hub cities where several airlines concentrate their flight operations. These aren’t always the airports of your final destination, but they may be where you have a scheduled layover before transferring to another flight.

The new list of the world’s 20 busiest airports was released in April by Airports Council International, a nonprofit group representing the world’s airports. A familiar airport tops the list once again, while airports in India and China continue to climb the charts. Overall, passenger traffic at the 20 busiest airports grew by 5.2 percent, and the 20 airports listed below represent a full 17 percent of global passenger traffic.

Make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright position. Sit back, relax and enjoy your flight through our slideshow of the top 20 busiest airports.

20. Denver International Airport

Arina P Habich / Shutterstock.com

More than 61 million passengers passed through Denver’s strikingly designed airport in 2017. That sounds like a lot, but just wait. The airport in the No.1 spot accommodates more than twice that traffic.

19. Incheon International Airport, South Korea

T.Dallas / Shutterstock.com

Incheon International, the largest airport in South Korea, came in at No. 19 with almost 62.2 million passengers in 2017.

18. Singapore Changi Airport

Sorbis / Shutterstock.com

Singapore Changi Airport, the home base of Singapore Airlines and one of the largest transportation hubs in Southeast Asia, saw more than 62.2 million passengers in 2017.

17. Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, Jakarta, Indonesia

saiko3p / Shutterstock.com

Soekarno–Hatta International Airport just west of Jakarta, Indonesia, saw more than 63 million passengers in 2017. But that’s nothing compared to its future plans: The Jakarta Post reports that the airport operator is acquiring more land and plans to boost capacity to serve 100 million by 2025.

16. Indira Gandhi International, Delhi, India

JeJai Images / Shutterstock.com

Indira Gandhi International is the busiest airport in the second-most populous country in the world, and it’s only growing. In 2017, 63.4 million passengers came through — a 14.1 percent jump over 2016, when it didn’t even make the top 20 list (coming in then at No. 22).

15. Istanbul Ataturk Airport, Turkey

Tooykrub / Shutterstock.com

Turkey’s largest airport comes in at No.15 on the list with more than 63.8 million passengers. But that number could look modest in the near future: Istanbul New Airport is under construction and set to open in fall of 2018 to replace Ataturk. The new airport could eventually serve 200 million passengers a year, and is planned to become the world’s largest.

14. Frankfurt Airport, Germany

katjen / Shutterstock.com

Frankfurt Airport, Germany’s largest in that nation’s fifth-largest city, logged 64.5 million passengers in 2017.

13. Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, China

ziggy_mars / Shutterstock.com

With more than 65.8 million passengers served in 2017, Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport is No. 13 on the list, but only the third-largest in China.

12. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

Dallas/Fort Worth International served 67 million passengers in 2017, but, on a list where most airports saw double-digit growth, DFW only saw a 2.3 percent increase in traffic since 2016.

11. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

Z. Jacobs / Shutterstock.com

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol comes in at No. 11 with more than 68.5 million passengers traveling through in 2017. Those numbers are certainly bolstered by the fact that it’s the hub for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

10. Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris

Alexandre Rotenberg / Shutterstock.com

Vive la France! Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport lands at No. 10 on the list, serving more than 69.4 million passengers in 2017.

9. Shanghai Pudong International Airport, China

ssguy / Shutterstock.com

Shanghai Pudong International Airport is the busiest international airport in mainland China, with half of its traffic coming from international travelers. Those fliers helped it top 70 million passengers served in 2017.

8. Hong Kong International Airport

cozyta / Shutterstock.com

Hong Kong International Airport not only comes in at No. 8 on the list, with more than 72.6 million passengers in 2017, but it grabs the blue ribbon for air-cargo traffic. More than 5 million metric tons of cargo were loaded and unloaded at the Chinese airport in 2017, a jump of 9.4 percent from 2016.

7. Heathrow Airport, London

M. Sam / Shutterstock.com

London Heathrow is Europe’s busiest airport, coming in at No. 7 in the world, with 78 million passengers served. It’s named for a small hamlet that was demolished in 1944 so the airport could be built.

6. O’Hare International Airport, Chicago

EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

The Windy City of Chicago is home to O’Hare International, which is United Airlines’ largest hub as well as the third-largest hub for American Airlines. More than 79.8 million passengers flew through O’Hare in 2017.

5. Los Angeles International Airport

Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

Commonly known as LAX, Los Angeles international is the second-busiest U.S. airport. In 2017, 84.5 million passengers flew through the City of Angels’ main airport.

4. Haneda Airport, Tokyo

Sakarin Sawasdinaka / Shutterstock.com

Non-Japanese travelers may be more familiar with Narita Airport, which handles the majority of that country’s international passengers. But it’s Haneda, Tokyo’s “other” airport, that comes in at No. 4, with 85.4 million passengers in 2017.

3. Dubai International Airport, United Arab Emirates

Sorbis / Shutterstock.com

Sprawling Dubai International Airport in the U.A.E. is the hub for Emirates, the Middle East’s largest airline. In 2017, 88.2 million passengers used the airport. Its Terminal 3 is the largest airport terminal in the world.

2. Beijing Capital International Airport

TonyV3112 / Shutterstock.com

The third Chinese airport on the list, Beijing Capital International, almost made it to the No. 1 spot — but had to settle for No. 2, serving more than 95.7 million passengers in 2017.

1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

ESB Professional / Shutterstock.com

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport takes its hyphenated name from two former mayors of Atlanta, Georgia. It’s not only No. 1 on the world’s-busiest-airport list, but is the only airport to serve more than 100 million passengers in 2017 — logging a whopping 103.9 million. However, it’s also the only airport whose passenger traffic declined in 2017, with a 0.3 percent drop. That said, Atlanta, you’re still No. 1.

What’s your experience with these airports? Do you have favorites? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

How to find cheaper car insurance in minutes

Getting a better deal on car insurance doesn't have to be hard. You can have The Zebra, an insurance comparison site compare quotes in just a few minutes and find you the best rates. Consumers save an average of $368 per year, according to the site, so if you're ready to secure your new rate, get started now.

Read Next
5 Memberships That Offer Car Insurance Discounts
5 Memberships That Offer Car Insurance Discounts

These discounts may save you hundreds — even thousands — of dollars a year.

Eat This Food If You Want to Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease
Eat This Food If You Want to Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease

One type of food associated with the Mediterranean diet offers especially large benefits.

11 Small Money Moves That Will Make a Big Difference
11 Small Money Moves That Will Make a Big Difference

These small money moves will pay off big in the long run.

13 Brilliant Bulk-Buy Items on Amazon
13 Brilliant Bulk-Buy Items on Amazon

Every household should have these products on hand. Buying them in bulk on Amazon saves you cash.

7 Ways to Shop at Costco Without a Membership
7 Ways to Shop at Costco Without a Membership

You don’t necessarily need to join to get in on the warehouse store’s savings.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
Social Security Checks Likely to Grow This Much in 2021
Social Security Checks Likely to Grow This Much in 2021

The federal government recently released a key statistic that gives clear insight into what next year’s COLA will be.

This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers
This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers

For the second straight year, a growing number of Americans believe they’ve fallen prey to this scam.

The Safest Grocery Store to Shop During the Coronavirus
The Safest Grocery Store to Shop During the Coronavirus

One grocery chain stands especially tall in its efforts to keep stores safe in the age of COVID-19.

21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store
21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store

Dollar stores have great bargains on both everyday and occasional purchases.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

7 Unusual Ways to Declutter Your Home
7 Unusual Ways to Declutter Your Home

Tired of possessions weighing you down? Here are seven ways to declutter painlessly and effectively.

This Is the Most Popular Age for Claiming Social Security
This Is the Most Popular Age for Claiming Social Security

Both men and women are most likely to start receiving Social Security benefits at this age.

6 Things You Should Never Buy at Trader Joe’s
6 Things You Should Never Buy at Trader Joe’s

We love Trader Joe’s for plenty of reasons. But think twice about this handful of products.

Don’t Toss These 7 Household Items — Sell Them
Don’t Toss These 7 Household Items — Sell Them

Here’s how to earn cash as you give new life to these unwanted items.

6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have
6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have

Few retirees have these documents that are crucial to their golden years — especially during a pandemic.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

5 Awesome Places You Can Retire Overseas on $2,000 a Month or Less
5 Awesome Places You Can Retire Overseas on $2,000 a Month or Less

In this week’s podcast: tips on retiring overseas — from someone who’s been helping American expats for decades.

11 Expenses That Quietly Drain Your Wallet
11 Expenses That Quietly Drain Your Wallet

It’s scandalously easy to overspend in these areas of your life.

Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?
Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?

You could save more than $30,000 by setting aside these costly expenses for just one year.

10 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
10 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are all steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

9 Dumb Ways You Are Ruining Your Home Value
9 Dumb Ways You Are Ruining Your Home Value

Homeowners, beware these mistakes that can drive away potential buyers.

18 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
18 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing food supply. Is your pantry prepared?

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.