In a typical year, hubs across Europe, Asia, and the United States see millions of passengers, with airports in Dubai, London, Paris, and Tokyo named among the busiest in the world. Of course, 2020 was not a typical year, and air traffic dropped dramatically due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to Airports Council International (ACI), overall passenger traffic decreased by 64.6% at the world's airports. Air travel has rebounded at varying rates across the globe as travel restrictions are lifted, but according to ACI's 2020 world airport traffic rankings, the top 10 busiest airports were all in the United States and China.
If you're planning to travel through one of these major hubs, there are a few things to keep in mind. For example, you'll want to give yourself plenty of time to check your bags, get through security, and find your gate. And if you must stop at a busy airport for a layover, don't go for flights with short connection times – it can take a while to travel between terminals. Traveling through a super-busy airport can be a headache, but they do have some perks – larger airports typically have a longer list of amenities, including great lounges and places to eat or drink.
So, what is the busiest airport in the world? Read on to find out.
1. Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport: Guangzhou, China
Number of passengers: 43,767,558
Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN) was the busiest airport in the world in 2020, with over 40 million passengers, down from over 73 million passengers in 2019.
2. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport: Atlanta, Georgia
Number of passengers: 42,918,685
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), previously the world's busiest airport in 2019 with over 110 million passengers, came in second in 2020. This airport saw 61.2% fewer passengers in 2020, at nearly 43 million.
3. Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport: Chengdu, China
Number of passengers: 40,741,509
Down 27.1% year-over-year, Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport (CTU), was the third-busiest airport in the world in 2020.
4. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport: Grapevine, Texas
Number of passengers: 39,364,990
The United States' second-busiest airport last year, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) moved up from the 10th-busiest airport in the world in 2019 to the fourth-busiest in 2020.
5. Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport: Shenzhen, China
Number of passengers: 37,916,054
Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport (SZX) was the world's 26th-busiest airport for overall passenger traffic in 2019, but in 2020, it came in fifth, with nearly 38 million people traveling through.
6. Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport: Chongqing, China
Number of passengers: 34,937,789
Another Chinese airport saw a major jump in ranking as other hubs around the world saw fewer passengers amid the pandemic. Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport (CKG) was 48th in 2019 and sixth in 2020 for overall passenger traffic.
7. Beijing Capital International Airport: Beijing, China
Number of passengers: 34,513,827
Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) was the second-busiest airport in 2019, but its passenger traffic fell a dramatic 65.5% in 2020, causing it to come in seventh this year.
8. Denver International Airport: Denver, Colorado
Number of passengers: 33,741,129
Denver International Airport (DEN) was among the United States' busiest airports in 2020. But it could be more than a major hub – there are some pretty wild conspiracy theories about the airport involving the Illuminati, underground bunkers, and more.
9. Kunming Changshui International Airport: Kunming, China
Number of passengers: 32,990,805
Kunming Changshui International Airport (KMG) went from the 37th-busiest airport in the world in 2019 to the ninth-busiest in 2020, with a 31.4% decrease in passengers.
10. Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport: Shanghai, China
Number of passengers: 31,165,641
Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport (SHA) was the 10th-busiest airport in 2020, with over 30 million passengers, down 31.7% from 2019, when the hub saw over 45 million travelers passing through.
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