The Busiest Airports in the United States in 2024

Written by Nilani Thiyagarajah
Updated: November 20, 2023
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Key Points:

  • If you’re going far away, air travel is likely the quickest option in most cases and some airports are busier than others.
  • Even though air travel slowed and almost completely stopped during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s back up and running now.
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) is not only the largest airport in the United States but also the busiest airport on the globe.
Denver International Airport is the second-largest airport in the world, based on size.

There are many reasons why people love to travel. They may want to experience other cultures, create change in their surroundings, or simply get away. If you’re going far away, air travel is likely the quickest option in most cases.

Of course, some airports are busier than others. It’s good to know how busy the airport is so that you know how much time you need so you don’t miss your flight.

Even though air travel slowed and almost completely stopped during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s back up and running now. Keep reading to learn about the eight busiest airports in the United States!

Harry Reid International Airport (LAS)

Interior view of the waiting room with slot machines in Harry Reid International Airport

Harry Reid International Airport not only can give you a stunning view of the Las Vegas Strip from the air but you can also play the slot machines while you wait at your gate.

©Kit Leong/Shutterstock.com

The Harry Reid International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world. Being the eighth busiest airport in the United States, this Las Vegas, Nevada airport had 39.7 million passengers come through in 2021. When you’re taking off from this airport, you can sometimes see the Las Vegas Strip, which is only a couple of miles away and quite stunning from a bird’s-eye view.

In 1968, this airport was named McCarran International Airport. It was rebranded to its current name in February 2021. This airport takes people to approximately 150 destinations around the globe. It’s also the entry point to the Las Vegas Strip, Death Valley, and the Grand Canyon.

Orlando International Airport (MCO)

Orlando, Florida. March 01, 2019. Panoramic view of Terminal A

©VIAVAL TOURS/Shutterstock.com

MCO is one of the busiest airports in the world. With 40.3 million passengers traveling through this airport in 2021, this airport, located about six miles southeast of Orlando, Florida, is currently the seventh busiest and third largest airport in the United States. It was once a Strategic Air Command installation – McCoy Air Force Base.

This airport was voted the top in the country by readers of USA Today. Planes fly from this airport to more than 150 destinations in the United States and overseas, many of which are in the same state. This airport is the starting point of about 850 trips daily.

Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT)

Busy central concourse at Charlotte Douglas International airport

Busy central concourse at Charlotte Douglas International Airport that saw 43.3 million passengers come through its doors in 2021.

©Mystic Stock Photography/Shutterstock.com

CLT is one of the busiest airports in the world. This Charlotte, North Carolina airport, the sixth busiest in the United States, saw approximately 43.3 million passengers come through in 2021. This airport is home to the second biggest hub for American Airlines and comes in fifth place regarding air traffic volume.

From this airport, passengers can take non-stop flights to 183 destinations around the globe. This is a militant and industrial airport that is capable of accommodating about 35 million people at once.

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

Airplanes in Los Angeles International airport LAX apron. California, USA

LAX is the gateway to the Pacific Ocean accessing more than 150 cities.

©Gabriele Maltinti/Shutterstock.com

LAX is one of the busiest airports in the world. Located in Los Angeles, California, this is the fifth busiest airport in the United States. It saw approximately 48 million passengers in 2021. LAX is the gateway to the Pacific Ocean to more than 150 cities on the planet. These cities are located in North America, Central America, and South America, in addition to the Far East.

Not only is this airport busy, but it’s full of amenities. Passengers here can enjoy fantastic restaurants, beautiful artwork, and even a place where they can spend quality time with volunteer dogs working with the LAX Pets Unstressing Passengers (PUP) program.

O’Hare International Airport (ORD)

Chicago O'Hare International Airport electric neon tunnel

The colored electric neon tunnel The Sky Is the Limit at Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) connects the B and C concourses at the United Airlines (UA) terminal.

©EQRoy/Shutterstock.com

ORD is one of the busiest airports in the world. Located in the city of Chicago, Illinois, this is the fourth busiest airport in the country. Occupying over 7,200 acres of space, it’s the seventh largest in the world. During World War II, this was actually an aircraft manufacturing plant.

Approximately 54 million travelers came through this airport in 2021. Though it is only the sixth busiest airport in the world today, it held the number one spot from 1963 to 1998.

This airport has planes that fly to over 230 destinations on six continents. Most of the traffic through O’Hare travels via local airlines, but planes here travel on domestic and international flights. It is a hub for both United Airlines and American Airlines.

Denver International Airport (DEN)

Denver International Airport (DIA) Glowing Tents

Glowing tents of DIA at sunrise. Denver International Airport is well known for its peaked roof. The design of the roof is reflecting snow-capped mountains.

©Arina P Habich/Shutterstock.com

DEN is one of the busiest airports in the world. The third busiest airport in the country, this Denver, Colorado airport is actually the largest US airport if we’re going by size alone. This airport takes up about 34,000 acres of space. This is twice the space of the second largest airport, Dallas-Fort Worth. It’s the world’s second-largest airport, with only King Fahd International Airport in Saudi Arabia being larger.

About 58.8 million travelers traveled via this airport in 2021, heading to about 200 destinations via 24 airlines.

Anyone traveling through this airport can enjoy an astounding art collection and many shops. The airport itself is a work of art with stunning architecture. There are even therapy animals that can help calm your nerves before flying, and you can go ice skating at Denver Plaza.

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)

The Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport airport contains planes from 23 airlines, traveling from 164 gates to approximately 260 destinations worldwide.

©Quintin Soloviev, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons – License

DFW is one of the busiest airports in the world. With about 62.4 million passengers coming through in 2021, this Texas airport is the second busiest and second biggest in the nation. It literally has its own zip code, covering 17,000 acres of space – the area is bigger than Manhattan, New York! This airport has its own fire department, police department, and emergency medical service facility.

This airport contains planes from 23 airlines, traveling from 164 gates to approximately 260 destinations worldwide. Despite all these destinations, most passengers are going to other domestic locations. It’s also the headquarters of American Airlines, the largest airline operator.

This airport makes a conscious effort to protect the environment and minimize its ecological footprint. It’s the biggest carbon-neutral airport in the world!

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

A Delta Air Lines Boeing 777-200LR and other Delta commercial airliners parked at the North Maintenance Parking Bay at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on October 1, 2017

©742999054/Shutterstock.com

ATL is one of the busiest airports in the world. Located in the city of Atlanta, Georgia, more than 300,000 people come in and out of this airport daily. It’s the largest airport in the United States but also the busiest airport on the globe.

In 2019, there were 100 million passengers that came through this airport, going on about 2,700 flights every day. In 2021, the number had fallen to 75.5 million passengers. Before the pandemic, this airport had been the busiest in the world for more than two decades.

The Air Transport Research Society has also distinguished itself as the most efficient airport in the world, coordinating flights to more than 225 destinations worldwide.

This airport is about 250 miles away from any other major airport and is a key focus for Delta Airlines. It’s also an important gateway to Latin America for many people.

Summary of the Busiest Airports in the United States

Here are the eight busiest airports in the United States, ranked by the number of passengers in 2021. Note: air travel has increased considerably since, so the numbers and possibly the rankings have changed. For example, Harry Reid Airport in Las Vegas saw 39.7 million passengers in 2021, but in 2022 it saw 52,694,312 passengers, making it the 12th busiest airport in the world.

RankAirport
1Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
2Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
3Denver International Airport (DEN)
4O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
5Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
6Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT)
7Orlando International Airport (MCO)
8Harry Reid International Airport (LAS)
Summary Table Of The Busiest Airports In The United States

What Are the Busiest Airports in the World?

The United States leads the world in air travel. The top four airports in the United States — Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, and Chicago O’Hare are also ranked as the four busiest airports in the world, according to a 2022 count of passengers. After that is a mix of international airports making up the top ten in the world:

  • 1. Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta – 93,699,630
  • 2. Dallas-Fort Worth – 73,362,946
  • 3. Denver – 69,286,461
  • 4. O’Hare in Chicago – 68,340,619
  • 5. Dubai International Airport, United Arab Emirates – 66,069107
  • 6. Los Angeles – 65,924,298
  • 7. Istanbul Airport, Turkey – 64,289,107
  • 8. Heathrow Airport, Great Britain – 61,614,508
  • 9. Indira Gandhi International Airport, India -59,490,074
  • 10. Charles de Gaulle Airport – 57,474,033

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Guido Benedetto/Shutterstock.com


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