If you are flying out of one of the busiest airports in 2021 know to allow for extra airport time when planning your flights.
As of 2020, the global air transportation industry is valued at a staggering $686 billion. Growth in the industry had been impressive prior to the novel coronavirus pandemic, with IATA predicting a mindboggling 8.2 billion air travelers in 2037.
If you frequently travel by airplane, chances are you’ve come across airports that seem to have never-ending escalators and hallways. Reaching your gate in such airports can seem like an impossible affair.
Navigating inside the biggest and busiest airports in the world makes you feel like you’re walking through a whole city. Each year, some of these airports handle tens of millions of passengers.
But have you ever wondered what the world’s biggest and busiest airports are? In this comprehensive post, we list ten of the biggest and busiest 2021 airports, based on the actual airport size and annual passenger traffic. Read on to find out.
The world’s largest airports are so gigantic that some even have their own postal codes. Some have several amenities, including hotels, restaurants, spas, and malls. In other words, these airports are a lot more than just a place where travelers catch flights.
In this section, we take a look at the world’s largest airports, measured in square kilometers.
As the name suggests, Beijing Daxing International Airport is found in Beijing, China. Opened in 2019, the airport’s terminal building spans a staggering 7.5 million sq ft. The airport’s total land area covers more than 18 square miles.
The airport’s construction cost a colossal $11 billion.
By 2040, this airport will handle over 100 million passengers, making it the world’s busiest. The airport’s futuristic design features a starfish shape. The design helps passengers to move from security to gate in less than eight minutes.
Everything about the world’s biggest airport is about convenience and eco-friendliness. There are countless solar panels, water management systems, and waste heat recovery systems to limit the airport’s impact on the environment.
The airport has huge plans for the future. For instance, the airport plans to have flights covering a mindboggling 112 destinations worldwide.
Located in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, King Fahd International Airport held the first position for the largest airport in the world until the opening of Beijing Daxing International Airport.
King Fahd International Airport’s terminal area covers 3.5 million sq ft. Its total area is a whopping 780 square kilometers.
The airport opened in 1999 and is a hub for three major airlines: Saudi Gulf Airlines, Saudia, and Aramco Aviation. The airport has a Mosque capable of handling over 2000 worshippers. There’s also a Hilton Hotel inside the grounds, among lots of other amenities.
Each year, King Fahd International Airport handles more than 12 million travelers.
Denver International Airport is in the USA. It’s the biggest airport in the US, in terms of square miles. The airport spans a massive 52.4 square miles.
While Denver International Airport primarily serves the Colorado area, it also has flights to more than 215 destinations. The airport employs well over 35,000 staff, which makes it the biggest employer in the entire state of Colorado.
Denver International Airport has about 23 different airlines that operate out of it. In 2019, the airport served more than 69 million travelers.
The world’s fourth-largest airport is also in the USA. So large is the airport that it has a ZIP code of its own. The postal service technically considers the Dallas/ Fort Worth International Airport a separate city.
The airport spans an impressive 27 square miles. Besides the Dallas/Fort Worth areas, the airport serves about 260 other destinations.
The Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is home to American Airlines.
That Orlando International Airport being on this list is no surprise, given that Orlando is home to Disney World. On average, Disney World receives 58 million visitors a year, and many of these visitors need an airport large enough to accommodate them.
The Orlando International Airport opened about four decades ago, in 1981. Currently, the airport has flights to 135 destinations around the world.
So how big is the world’s fifth-largest airport? Currently, the airport covers a jaw-dropping 11 acres. In 2019, the airport served an incredible 50 million travelers.
The Orlando International Airport is home to Silver Airways.
The Washington Dulles International Airport is among the biggest US airports, spanning an incredible 13,000 acres. The airport gets its name from the 52nd US Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles.
The airport has flights to 125 destinations globally. It’s home to United Airlines and serves more than 24 million passengers a year.
Based in Houston, Texas, the George Bush International Airport is the seventh-largest airport in the world. The airport spans 10,000 acres.
But while this airport is smaller than the Washington Dulles International Airport, it handles more than double the passenger traffic. Each year, the airport serves more than 45 million passengers.
The George Bush International Airport is another home to United Airlines.
The Shanghai Pudong International Airport is the second Chinese airport in the list of the world’s largest airports. Globally, this airport ranks at number eight.
The airport occupies more than about 10,000 acres. In 2018, the airport handled over 74 million passengers. That makes the airline the busiest airport in mainland China.
Several Chinese airlines call the Shanghai Pudong International Airport home, including China Eastern Airlines, Air China, China Southern Airlines, Juneyao Airlines, Spring Airlines, and Shanghai Airlines.
Cairo International Airport is the only African Airport on this list. It’s based in Heliopolis, Egypt, and handles more than 15 million travelers a year.
Cairo International Airport is the hub for Nile Air and EgyptAir.
Suvarnabhumi Airport is also referred to as Bangkok Airport. It’s among the biggest airports in South East Asia and spans 8,000 acres.
So popular is the airport that in 2012, Suvarnabhumi Airport has been the most popular spot for people to take Instagram photos. The airport handles more than 63 million passengers annually.
Several major airlines call this airport home, including Bangkok Airways, Thai Airways, Jet Asia Airways, Thai Vietjet, and Thai Smile.
Sometimes, the world’s largest airports are not the busiest when it comes to passenger traffic. In fact, the top busiest airlines in the world aren’t on the list above. Let’s take a look at some of the airlines that handle the most passenger traffic per year at the moment.
Atlanta International Airport
The Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport opened in 1980. Since 1998, the airport has topped the list as the world’s busiest, handling a stunning 107.4 million passengers in 2018.
One of the things that make this airport so popular is its convenient location. Atlanta is only a two-hour flight from the vast majority of the US population. Indeed, the biggest percentage of the airport’s traffic serves domestic locations.
The Beijing Capital International Airport is the busiest airport in all of Asia. In 2018, over 101 million passengers used the airport.
The airport experienced a major expansion to add the huge Terminal 3 in preparation for the 2008 Summer Olympics. The terminal is among the largest structures globally.
Beijing Capital is the primary hub for Air China. The airline serves over 120 destinations worldwide and has posted consistent growth year after year.
Dubai International Airport is the premier airport in the UAE. It’s the busiest airport when it comes to serving international passengers. In 2018 alone, the airport served almost 89 million international travelers out of a total of 89.1 million passengers.
Between 2008 and 2013, the airport’s Terminal 3 was the largest building in the world. The airport houses Dubai Duty-Free, which is the world’s most successful airport retailer.
Los Angeles International Airport is the world’s busiest airport in terms of origin and destination. That means that, compared to other airports, more travelers start or end their travel there instead of using it as a connection.
In 2018, over 87.5 million travelers used LAX. The airport has a private suite that serves members only. Members have access to a VIP terminal that’s more like flying private. Membership of this club consists mostly of business executives and celebrities.
The Tokyo Haneda International Airport is Asia’s second busiest. Designed to handle about 90 million passengers annually, the airport served 87.1 million in 2018.
The Japanese government increased the airport capacity even further after winning the bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Based in Chicago, O’Hare International Airport opened in 1955. Since then, the airport has consistently ranked among the busiest airports in the world. The airport tops the world as the busiest when it comes to takeoffs and landings.
The airline served about 83.4 million passengers in 2018. It’s the hub of almost 40 airlines and offers direct flights to over 60 destinations internationally.
For many years, London Heathrow Airport held the top spot for the busiest airport globally in terms of foreign passenger traffic. The airport still serves a tremendous number of travelers today. 80.1 million passengers used the airport in 2018.
London Heathrow Airport serves a staggering 185 destinations globally. There are six terminals in the airport, with five open to the public. The smaller, sixth terminal is reserved for royals, heads of states, and certain celebrities.
The last airport on our list, Hong Kong International Airport is the biggest air cargo center globally. The airport handles over 5 million metric tons of cargo a year.
The airport is also popular with passengers, serving an impressive 74.5 million passengers in 2018. Of course, the 2019 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, coupled with flight disruptions due to COVID-19, have disrupted the airport’s operations. But it still remains one of the busiest airports globally.
While all of the airports we’ve talked about in this list are extremely efficient, sometimes the unexpected happens, and your flight is canceled. It’s one of the things travelers dread the most.
If your flight was delayed, then you may be eligible for flight delay compensation. This is especially important in 2020.
This year, most airlines have had to make coronavirus flight cancellations, for understandable reasons. Due to the nature of the problem, no airline is obligated to compensate passengers whose flights have been canceled, but they must refund you the cost of the canceled air ticket or provide an alternative flight.
The coronavirus isn’t the only reason airplanes can cancel flights. Other legitimate reasons include bad weather, security threats, IT problems, and so on.
That said, beware of tactics that some airlines use to try to avoid paying flight compensation. Don’t get tricked by these companies. Know your rights.
For instance, if your flight was delayed or canceled as a result of a strike by the airline employee, understaffing, or staff turning up late, you are entitled to compensation. That’s because this event is inherent in the usual exercise of the activity of the airline. If the airline tries to dodge your claim, it’s within your right to seek legal action.
So there you have it: a list of the world’s biggest and busiest airports. As you can see, the sizes of these mammoth structures boggle the mind. The air traffic some of them handle every year defies belief.
If, when using one of them in 2021, your flight is delayed or canceled, you may be entitled to compensation.
Would you like to know whether you are eligible for flight compensation? Click here for help.