30 busiest airports in the world and the stopover lessons for frequent travellers

Busiest Airports in the world

Airports have become an inseparable part of many people’s lives. As the world has become a global village, international trips, no matter business trips or leisure travels are quite common nowadays. Visiting airports should not always be a drag. For those who are frequent travellers, having knowledge about each airport helps to make your travel a little bit easier and sometimes can even help you have fun.

Let me share the list of 30 busiest airports in the world and the stopover lessons:

1) Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport

Atlanta international Airport

The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is an international airport in Atlanta, Georgia. The airport is named after former Atlanta mayors William B. Hartsfield and Maynard Jackson. The airport has 192 gates out of which 152 are domestic and 40 are international. Atlanta has remained the busiest airport since 2000 due to the highest number of passengers coming in and out of the airport. The airport connects the southern US completely and is said to be a hub for Delta airlines. Restaurant chains such as Arby’s and Longhorn Steakhouse as well as Mont Blanc and Michael Kors can be found at the airport.


Stopover lessons:

Atlanta is one of the most vibrant cities in the US. Experience the Georgian culture on your US vacation by visiting the High Museum of Art, the Centre for Civil and Human Rights and the many galleries and boutiques with your chauffeur service.

2) Beijing Capital International Airport

Beijing International AirportThe Beijing Capital International airport is the second busiest airport in the world and it is the primary airport in the Chinese capital. The airport has become the busiest airport in Asia as it has witnessed huge passenger traffic. The airport has seen 95.8 million people passing through and it is also a hub for China Air, Hainan Airlines, China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines.

Stopover lessons:

The time a person spends on the Beijing airport is a quick primer on Chinese culture and history. You can explore the royal palace in the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square commonly known as the mainland China and the Great Wall of China that runs through the north of the city.

3) Dubai International Airport

Dubai international airport

Dubai International Airport is the primary international airport and the largest airport serving Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It is the world’s third busiest airport in terms of passenger traffic. In the year 2017, the Dubai International Airport has handled 88 million passengers. The terminal 3 of the airport is said to be the second largest building in the world in terms of floor space. The airport is stunning like the rest of Dubai, and you can shop there for Hermes scarves and Rolex watches while waiting for your flight.

Stopover lessons:

Your stopover can make you acquainted with the biggest Dubai attractions. There are beautiful structures like Burj al Dubai, Burj Khalifa etc. You can even drop by Dubai Frame and Dubai Mall for shopping. If you are into safaris or sky diving Dubai is just the place for you.

4) Los Angeles International Airport

Los Angeles International AirportThis airport has handled over 85 million passengers in the year 2018. The LAX airport is the hub for Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Air. It is the largest and busiest airport on the US West Coast. This airport even has the record of being the busiest origin and destination airport in the world. Also, it is the only airport in the US to rank among the top 5 airports in terms of cargo traffic.

Stopover lessons:

Your USA trip is incomplete without staying in Los Angeles. You can enjoy the beaches, explore Hollywood and even climb the hills. A walk down the Venice beach will be memorable for the rest of your life. Be starstruck in Beverly Hills and drink in the views from Griffith Observatory.

5) Tokyo Haneda International Airport

Haneda airport, TokyoThis airport experiences the traffic of around 84 million passengers each year making it the fifth busiest airport in the world on the list. The airport is the primary hub for two major airlines namely- Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways. Haneda is the third largest cargo hub in Japan after Narita and Kansai. In the year 2012, Haneda completed a new “Premier Gate” facility for business jets.

Stopover lessons:

You can have a lot of things to enjoy around Tokyo. It makes the place a great bite-sized Japan holiday. The land of Japan is known for electronics if you are a gadget geek. Visit Akihabara to check out the latest electronic stores of Ginza. If you are into the pop culture, enjoy the famous Harajuku neighbourhood and grab some comic books to read while you drive with your chauffeur service. The famous Meiji Shrine is a place worth paying a visit and an icon of Tokyo.

6) O’Hare International Airport

O'Hare International AirportThis airport is situated on the far Northwest side of Chicago, Illinois.  The airport has non-stop flights to 228 destinations. The airport has served around 83 million passengers in 2018. The airport has set of two parallel runways. O’Hare airport has four terminals with nine lettered concourses. There are a total of 191 gates.

Stopover lessons:

There are over a million things for one to do in Chicago. If you love art, a visit to the Art Institute can really be fun for you. You can chill in many parks for free. If hiking is your passion, Chicago presents you with its glorious 606 hiking trail. You can visit the beaches, eat to your heart’s fill and also you can wander around the Chinatown.

7) London Heathrow Airport

London Heathrow AirportThis airport is one of the six major international airports in London. It is the seventh busiest airport in the world entertaining passenger traffic of around 80.1 million. The Heathrow airport is a hub for British Airways and also it is the major operating base for Virgin Atlantic. The airport is used by over 80 airlines flying to 185 destinations is around 84 countries.



Stopover lessons:

If you are halting in London, the best things to visit near Heathrow Airport are the amazing Windsor castle and the beautiful royal botanic gardens in Kew. For the Rugby fans, the Twickenham stadium is a must visit to enjoy and explore Rugby museum. Other few attractions are Thorpe Park, Ascot racecourse,  Ham House and Musical Museum.

8) Hong Kong International Airport

Hong Kong AirportThis airport is built on the reclaimed land on the island of Chek Lap Kok and is also called as Chek Lap Kok airport. The airport is a hub and gateway for the destinations in Mainland China and Asia. It has many things to entertain the passengers like IMAX for watching a blockbuster, play a little golf and enjoy the Aviation Discovery Center. You can even get yourself pampered at a Wellness Spa.

Stopover lessons:

If you have a stopover in Hong Kong for more than 9 hours, you can just hire a private car and move around the city and take in the culture and history. You can even go on a hike and stretch your plane-weary legs.

9) Shanghai Pudong International Airport

shanghai pudong international airportThis airport serves international flights at Shanghai and it is only 40 km away from the Shanghai Hongqiao airport which serves domestic flights. The airport has two terminals and it is the fastest growing hub for the passengers as well as cargo. The airport witnesses 60 to 80 million passengers in a year.

Stopover lessons:

If you ever experience a stopover at the Shanghai Pudong airport, you can move around the city eating your heart out. You can laze around at a lounge or even go sightseeing with a chauffeur car at your service at places like Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai World Financial Center and Shanghai Museum.

10) Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport

Paris-Charles de Gaulle AirportThis airport is also known as Roissy Airport and is the largest international airport in France and the second largest in Europe. It was named after the leader of Free French Forces during World War II and the founder of the French Fifth Republic, Charles de Gaulle. He was also the president of France from 1959 to 1969. The airport is a hub for Air France and other legacies. The airport handled 72,229,723 passengers in the year 2018.

Stopover lessons:

Are you having a layover at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport? Don’t worry, Paris is a brand new area that offers modern airport amenities in a fashionable only-in-France way. The travellers can hang out by the lounge having a library decorated in Haussmannian style. The library has books of more than 300 publications in different languages. You can go for sightseeing in various places like Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Notre Dame and Musee d’Orsay with your chauffeur service to move around comfortably.

11) Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

amsterdam airportAmsterdam Airport Schiphol is also known as Schiphol Airport. It is the main international airport in the Netherlands. It is called the third-busiest airport in Europe. The airport has managed over 63 million passengers in the last year. The carriers provided over 301 destinations every day to the passengers. The airport is a hub for KLM, Dutch Airlines, Martinair, Transavia and TUIfly the Netherlands.

Stopover lessons:

You can enjoy Amsterdam’s chicness spread even at the airport. There are plenty of restaurants, bars and cafes with more of a local touch. You can visit the Royal Palace, take a stroll through the Red Light District or just hire a private car to explore the Anne Frank House, Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum.

12) Indira Gandhi International Airport

Indira Gandhi International AirportThis airport is the main civilian aviation hub for the national capital of Delhi, India. The airport is situated in Palam. It is the twelfth busiest airport in the world handling passenger traffic of around 70 million. It has 3 terminals with the terminal 3 having a capacity to handle 34 million passengers thus making it the eighth largest passenger terminal. The airport was rated the best airport in the world in the category of 25-30 million passenger handling. It was also ranked first in the Airport Service Quality (ASQ). The future plans for expanding the airport are to make it capable enough to handle more than 100 million passengers until 2030.

Stopover lessons:

A stopover at Delhi Airport will make you realize that pre-planning never works in India, you just have to go with the flow. You can hire a private car to reach HOHO Delhi tourism office and get a 40 min ride to every tourist spot in Delhi. This tourism bus works for both Indian and foreign travellers. If you are not comfortable travelling on the bus, you might consider booking a chauffeur service to visit Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, India Gate, Lotus temple and many such amazing places.

13) Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport

Guangzhou Baiyun International AirportThe Guangzhou Baiyun Airport is the capital of Guangdong province, China. The Baiyun Airport codes were inherited from the former Baiyun Airport and the IATA code is derived from Guangzhou’s historical romanization Canton. In the year 2017, the airport was said to be China’s third busiest and world’s 13th busiest airport. It has the capacity to serve 65,806,977 passengers approximately.

Stopover lessons:

If you have a 72-hour layover in China, you should know that the citizens of 53 countries are allowed visa-free entry in China. Visa Free entry is available only if you are entering and exiting through the Guangzhou airport. You can eat around the delicious Chinese food, go around shopping or visit the Shamian Island or explore the Liwan district by hiring a private car.

14) Frankfurt Airport

Frankfurt AirportThis airport is the busiest airport in Germany in terms of passenger traffic. It is also the fourth busiest airport in Europe. The airport has witnessed more than 60.786 million passengers in 2017 and around 70 million passengers in 2018. The airport turned 82 years old in July 2018.  The airport serves more than 300 destinations in 5 continents and that’s why it is called the airport with most direct routes in the world.

Stopover lessons:

The airport has dozens of restaurants to satisfy your hunger. There are many shops and boutiques that give you the eye candy. You can surely get the perfect souvenir at this airport. Even if there are plenty of things to keep you busy inside the airport, you can plan on sightseeing. There are places like Altstadt, Romer and many more which you can visit in your chauffeured car.

15) Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

DFW Airport

This is a primary international airport in the Texas region of the US. It is the fourteenth busiest airport and ninth busiest international gateway in the US. It is also the second busiest airport in Texas. It has 900 flights daily and it the second largest hub for American Airlines. It serves  249 destinations out of which 62 international and 187 domestic. It serves more than 63 million passengers.

Stopover lessons:

The best stopovers to do at this airport are to drop by the yoga studio or check out the art collection by brilliant artists. You can shop at your best at the shopping places for the pieces of jewellery and toys and other things. You can hire a private car to drink in the history and culture of Dallas through brilliant buildings like the Old Red Museum.


16) Seoul Incheon International Airport

Incheon International AirportThis is the largest airport in South Korea and serves Seoul which is the capital of the country. The airport has been declared as the best airport worldwide for 11 consecutive years. This airport is located between the two Islands to 48 km west of Seoul. It is the main hub for Korean Air, Asiana Airlines, Jeju Air and Polar Air. The airport is said to be the 19th busiest airport in the world and eighth in Asia. It serves around 57 million passengers all year long.

Stopover lessons:

There are a lot of facilities offered at this airport for your shopping of Korean beauty products and a lot more to get you covered from head to toe. You can get entertained with the Korean culture and you can even play dress up. You can even arrange nearby drop-ins at the Paradise City Casino and other places worth visiting just by booking a chauffeur service or private airport transfer.

17) Istanbul Atatürk Airport

Istanbul Ataturk AirportThe airport was opened in 1912 as a military airfield and named as Yeşilköy Airport. Later, the airport was renamed as Istanbul Atatürk International Airport in the honour of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, as he was the founder and the first president of the Republic of Turkey. This airport is the seventeenth busiest airport in the world and serves more than 60 million passengers. However, its rank has fallen after a rapid decline in the passenger rate due to security fears.

Stopover lessons:

Turkey is a Muslim country so you can find many mosques spread across the airport. You can take in the culture by wandering along with the shops and eating gourmet dishes. Americans have to pay a $20 visa to go around the country.

18) Soekarno-Hatta International Airport

Hatta International AirportThis airport is the primary airport which serves in the Greater Jakarta. The airport is named after the first president and Vice-president of Indonesia – Soekarno and Mohammad Hatta respectively. The airport is the busiest and largest airport in Southeast Asia and serves over 70 million passengers. It is also ranked 18th busiest airport in the world.

Stopover lessons:

If you are stuck on a Jakarta layover, you can shop and eat at the best restaurants available at every terminal.  As for transportation, you can book a private airport transfer to move around the city to visit Fatahillah Square, Indonesia in the miniature park, Istiqlal Mosque, Sunda Kelapa etc.

19) Singapore Changi Airport

Changi International AirportThis airport is the major civilian airport for the country of Singapore. It is also one of the largest transportation hubs in Asia. Since 2013, it is being rated the world’s best airport by Skytrax. The airport manages around 7400 flights every week and handles more than 60 million passengers.

Stopover lessons:

There are some really good liquor shops to fuel you up during the stopover time. You can even indulge in some retail therapy. the Check out the gardens at each terminal that will leave you in awe. If you have more than 6 hours, you can hire a private car for Singapore tour.

20) Denver International Airport

Denver International AirportThis airport is situated in the western US and serves Denver and Colorado. The airport has the seventh longest runway in the world. The flights serve up to 205 destinations and this airport is the fourth which serves more than 200 destinations. The passenger traffic witnessed by the airport in 2018 was around 64, 494, 613.

Stopover lessons:

There is a restaurant called Root down which you will fall in love with. The decor is fresh and the food is trendy yet comforting. You can fall for the Colorado beer. Tour around Denver in a chauffeured car to make the layover period happening. You can visit the Denver art museum or the Colorado brewery to make the best of your time.

21) Suvarnabhumi Airport

Suvarnabhumi AirportThis airport is unofficially known as the Bangkok airport. The airport is said to be the main hub for Thai Airways International, Thai Smile Airways and Bangkok Airways. It the 21st busiest airport in the world and eleventh busiest airport in Asia. The airport serves 60 million passengers with the help of 95 airlines.

Stopover lessons:

Besides eating and sleeping, you can head off for sightseeing Bangkok. A quick trip can be managed by booking a private airport car to visit spots like Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Khao San Road, Siam Paragon, Central World Siam etc.


22) John F. Kennedy International AirportJohn F. Kennedy International Airport

This airport is usually called as Kennedy airport and it is the primary airport in New York City. It is said to be the busiest international passenger gateway for North America. It is the twenty-second busiest airport and serves more than 59 million passengers. The airport is said to operate more than 90 airlines with direct flights to destinations in six continents.

Stopover lessons:

There is a lot to explore when it comes to New York City. It would be great if you hire a private car to visit Manhattan’s, Central Park. You can also check out MoMA and take a bus tour of the beautiful city.

23) Kuala Lumpur International Airport

Kuala Lumpur International AirportThis Malaysian international airport is said to be the 23rd busiest airport in the world. It is situated in the Sepang district and serves the Greater Klang Valley. It is capable of handling over 59 million passenger traffic. It is said to be the hub for Malaysia Airlines, MASkargo etc.

Stopover lessons:

The layover at Kuala Lumpur airport can be fun if you are a foodie. You can go around eating at various eateries at the airport relishing the delicacies. The gateway mall can become your perfect shopping place in the stopover period. You can take a quick tour to check out Petronas Towers, Little India, ChinaTown, Jalan Alor street and many more.

24) Madrid Barajas Airport

madrid barajasAdolfo Suárez Madrid- Barajas airport also called Madrid-Barajas airport is short is the major international airport in Spain. The airport is said to be second largest in Europe by size. It is the 6th busiest airport in Europe and 24th busiest airport in the world serving 57.9 million passengers. This airport has 5 passenger terminals for serving passengers.

Stopover lessons:

Spanish love food. So you can enjoy some famous food at Kirei by Kabuki, La Mary for modern Spanish fare, and Pepito Grillo. You can go for shopping at the Real Madrid FC stores to pick up the best souvenir. For sightseeing, you can visit the museums like Prado and Reina Sofia Museum, home to Picasso’s monolith Guernica etc.

25) San Francisco International Airport

San Francisco International AirportIt is the largest airport in Northern California. This airport is second busiest in California and 25th busiest around the world. The airport is said to be the fifth largest hub for United Airlines and it is also a hub for Alaska Airlines. It has been awarded as the best airport in North America in 2008.

Stopover lessons:

Like every other airport, this airport also offers some unique fun activities. You can go around site seeing as the city has something in store for each type of passenger. You can book a chauffeur service and check out the Alcatraz prison, drop-in for the double-decker bus tour, segway and food tour and even ferry and helicopter rides.

26) Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport

Chengdu Shuangliu International AirportThis airport serves in Chengdu which is the capital of Sichuan province in China. The airport is 144-hour transit visa-free airport. It is the fourth busiest airport in China and 26th busiest in the world. The airport is capable to handle 3500 passengers per hour. The flights fly to 50 international destinations and 170 domestic destinations.

Stopover lessons:

If you have a stopover at the Chengdu airport, you can explore the duty-free shops in the international departure hall. They have everything from crafts to cosmetics. You can opt for Chengdu tours, drop by the Giant Panda research base, Wenshu Yuan Monastery etc.

27) Barcelona-El Prat Airport

Barcelona-El Prat AirportIt is also known as El Prat airport. This airport is the largest and busiest airport in Catalonia. It is the 7th busiest airport in Europe and 27th busiest airport in the world. This airport handles more than 50 million passengers. The airport is said to be a hub for Level and Vueling airlines. The Barcelona air shuttle or the Pont Aire has been the busiest popular route in the year 2018.

Stopover Lessons:

Eating can be great in Barcelona as most of the restaurants and cafes offer Mediterranean tasty food. There are Spanish brand restaurants offering seafood, traditional and modern food too. You can shop for popular Spanish brands like Desigual, Mango, La Botiga etc. Traveller getaways can be not possible sometimes due to tight airport security. Though if you get a chance, do stop by La Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, Casa Batllo and Barceloneta Beach.

28) Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport

Chattrapati Shivaji International Airport

This is a major airport serving the Mumbai area in India. The airport handles more than 950 flights and had seen passenger traffic of over 50 million. In the year 2017, the airport was declared busier than the London Gatwick airport also. The airport is said to be 14th busiest airport in Asia and 28th busiest airport in the world. It is also the second busiest airport in India.

Stopover lessons:

The best shopping and dining can be done at Terminal 2 of the airport with the Indian gourmet to serve you. Kimaya is a great place to find Indian-inspired fashion. BOM and Olive Bistro are nice sit-down spots for you. If you have more than 10 hours time in your hand, Juhu beach, Iskcon temple and Galajee are not a bad idea to drop by.

29) Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

Seattle-Tacoma International AirportThis airport is also known as Sea-Tac airport. It majorly serves in Seattle area of Washington, US. This airport supports 34 airlines which serve 91 domestic destinations non-stop and 28 international destinations. It is the 8th busiest airport in the US and 29th busiest airport in the world. It is also one of the fastest growing airports in the US.

Stopover Lessons:

If you are a fan of cheese and seafood, Anthony’s restaurant serves the best seafood and Beecher’s handmade cheese is worth giving a try. Though you’ll find airport staples like newsstands and convenience shops, you can pick up some great local souvenirs. Dilettante Chocolate and Mocha Cafe is a perfect treat for yourself and your loved ones. If you hire a private car, you can stop by the famous Pike place market and Capitol Hill.

30) McCarran International Airport

McCarran International AirportThis is a major airport serving in the Las Vegas Valley which is in the US state of Nevada. The airport has four runways and two passenger terminals to serve. McCarran airport received over 45 million passengers in 2018. It is the 30th busiest airport in the world in terms of passengers but is the 8th busiest airport considering its aircraft movements.

Stopover lessons:

The food and drink options are available 24/7 at the airport though there is nothing too unique, they satisfy most of the travellers. You can visit the aviation museum and chill. There is a gym to workout and freshen up. If you are into sightseeing you can hit the road to watch the fountain show outside the Bellagio. There are a few casinos like Wynn and Aria to enjoy.

So, the next time you visit these airports and have some layover time, make sure you use our stopover lessons to entertain yourself while waiting for your next flight.

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