5. Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Illinois (ORD) with 66,633,503 passengers
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Chicago is also home Midway International, but it’s O’Hare that handles the most traffic. It’s the second busiest airport in the entire United States and a popular stopover when traveling across the United States or to a destination in the Midwest. But just because your travel plans may take you to O’Hare doesn’t mean you should expect them to make it through the airport unchanged, as in 2012 21.44% of all flights scheduled to depart O’Hare were delayed and a further 1.98% were canceled, well above the national average. Don’t be so quick to blame Chicago’s notorious winter weather, either, as the airport actually fares worse during the summer months when it comes to on-time departures.
4. Tokyo Haneda Airport, Japan (HND) with 66,795,178 passengers
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The Tokyo metropolitan area has an astonishing 34 million residents and two justifiably large airports to support the travel plans of those residents. The Haneda Airport primarily handles domestic flights to Tokyo from elsewhere in Japan, while the crosstown Narita International Airport handles the majority of Tokyo’s international traffic.
3. London Heathrow Airport, England (LHR) with 70,037,417 passengers
[Also see our travel article “Making Sense of the London Airports“]
Heathrow is the United Kingdom’s busiest airport as each year 70 million travelers pass through its five terminals. Unfortunately, it’s also infamous for delays, lost luggage and every other thing frustrating to travelers. Things have been looking up a bit, though, since the completion of Terminal 5 in 2008, which is one of the world’s largest terminals and is used exclusively by British Airways and Iberia. But there’s no disguising that Heathrow has maxed out its two runways. Compare that to Dallas/Fort Worth and Chicago O’Hare, both of which have seven runways and less traffic.
2. Beijing Capital International Airport, China (PEK) with 81,929,359 passengers
[Also see our “Travel Guide to Beijing and its Attractions“]
The Beijing Capital Airport is now the world’s second busiest airport and the busiest airport in all of Asia. It’s been a rapid ascension for the airport, whose traffic has greatly increased as China has opened up to the outside world and its travelers. PEK is the primary hub of Air China, which flies to over 100 destinations from the airport. The highlight of the airport, though, is Terminal 3 which was built in time to accommodate visitors to the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 and is the world’s second largest airport terminal, after Terminal 3 at Dubai International.
1. Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Georgia (ATL) with 95,462,867 passengers
And once again, the Atlanta International Airport is the world’s busiest with an almost unbelievable 95 million passengers traveling to or through the airport each year. ATL has been the world’s busiest airport every year since 1998, thanks in large part to its hub status for Delta. Delta operates more than 1,000 flights a day out of Atlanta, which makes it the world’s busiest airline hub.