Where are the Biggest Airports in the World?

By Biki John | Last updated on

Which is the largest airport in the world? Is this a question that has ever crossed your mind as you’ve sprinted across point A to B in a crowded airport?

According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), more than 771 million people passed through American airports in 2017.

During the last couple of years, airports have been getting busier. In particular, from 2016 to 2017, airports witnessed passenger traffic increase by 6.6 percent.

At AirHelp, we are lucky to have a reliable and accurate collection of global flight data at our disposal. So we decided to crunch some numbers to work out the biggest airports in the world and where they are situated.

We chose the top five largest airports in the United States and Europe based on the number of passengers that departed from the airport.

The data is taken from January 2017 to April 2018.

What is the largest airport in the United States?

1.Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport (Atlanta)
Number of passengers departing: 62,486,436

  • Since 1998, ATL’s high passenger traffic has placed the buzzing airport as a permanent fixture on the world’s busiest airport list
  • The popular airport covers 4,700 acres of land and has five parallel runways
  • ATL has 209 domestic and international gates

what is the largest airport in the united states

2. Los Angeles International Airport (Los Angeles)
Number of passengers departing: 52,904,727

  • LAX is the primary international airport serving in Los Angeles, California
  • It stretches across 3,500 acres of land and has four parallel runways
  • The airport connects nonstop to 101 domestic and 85 international destinations in Asia, Oceania, Europe, North America, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa

3. O’Hare International Airport (Chicago)
Number of passengers departing: 49,935,564

  • Post-war, ORD’s innovative design spearheaded design concepts such as underground refuelling systems and direct highway access to a terminal
  • The airport covers 7,627 acres and serves over 79.8 million passengers
  • O’Hare has direct flights to 217 destinations in Europe, Africa, North America, South America and Asia

4. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (Dallas)
Number of passengers departing: 41,797,952

  • DFW is the primary international airport serving the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex area in Texas
  • It covers 17,207 acres of land and has five operational terminals
  • DFW is so large that it has its own police, fire protection and emergency medical services

5. John F. Kennedy International Airport (New York)
Number of passengers departing: 38,853,998

  • JFK is the main international airport in New York City
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport spans 5,200 acres
  • Over ninety airlines operate out of JFK and it has six terminals containing 128 gates

Largest airports in Europe

1. Heathrow Airport (London)
Number of passengers departing: 49,795,202

  • LHR’s passenger traffic makes it one of the busiest airports in the world, as well as in Europe
  • It has two parallel east–west runways along with four operational terminals on a site that covers 12.27 square kilometres
  • For security, the leading airport uses full-body scanners which highlight where passengers may conceal prohibited items

2. Frankfurt am Main Airport (Frankfurt)
Number of passengers departing: 39,953,130

  • FRA’s passenger traffic makes it the busiest airport in Germany and Europe at large
  • It covers 5,683 acres of land
  • The popular airport boasts two passenger terminals, four runways and extensive maintenance facilities and logistics

largest airport in the world

3. Charles de Gaulle Airport (Paris)
Number of passengers departing: 39,483,133

  • CDG is the largest international airport in France
  • In 2017, it’s passenger traffic amounted to 69,471,442 passengers making it one of the busiest airports in Europe
  • Charles de Gaulle Airport has three terminals

4. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (Amsterdam)
Number of passengers departing: 37,611,501

  • AMS is located nine kilometres southwest of Amsterdam
  • The airport design presents itself as a single-terminal concept: one large terminal split into three large departure halls
  • Originally a military airbase, AMS has grown to become the primary airport of the Netherlands

5. Madrid-Barajas Airport (Spain)
Number of passengers departing: 37,694,937

  • MAD is the main international airport serving Madrid in Spain
  • In 2017, 53.4 million travellers passed through Madrid–Barajas making it one of Europe’s busiest airports
  • With its five passenger terminals—the airport has become one of the most important aviation centres of Europe

If you’ve lost your way passing through one of these airports or found yourself doing a 100-metre dash through their long terminals to make your flight, you won’t be surprised to find their names on our list.

In our recent article on how to plan a trip to Europe, we advised that avoiding popular airports would cut down your travel costs.

Travel can get awfully expensive. For many regular flyers, finding ways to reduce costs is a must. Consequently, when booking your next flight, you may want to source alternatives to these larger (and often more expensive) airports.

No way of avoiding passing through one of these airports? Give yourself enough time to make your scheduled departure.

Flight delays happen, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept them. You may be entitled to a much as €600 in compensation. If your flight was delayed, canceled, or overbooked within the last three years.