Airports are no longer the drab, grey, soul crushing places they used to be. Airports today are FUN. Picture shopping malls and movie theatres, water slides and restaurants. In recent years, airports have transformed from purgatory to places travellers actually enjoy spending time in. Read on for the 10 busiest airports in the world and how to navigate them.

1 Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, USA

Atlanta Skyline
The Atlanta Skyline

With an annual passenger traffic of over 104 million passengers, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has been the busiest airport in the world since 2000. The airport connects all of southern USA and is the hub for Delta Airlines. The airport is home to restaurant chains such as Arby’s and Longhorn Steakhouse as well as Mont Blanc and Michael Kors.

Layover Lesson

One of Southern USA’s largest cities, Atlanta is one of the most vibrant cities in the country. Don’t forget to get a taste of Georgian culture on your USA holiday with trips to the High Museum of Art, the Centre for Civil and Human Rights and the many galleries and boutiques that dot the city.

2 Beijing Capital International Airport

The Forbidden City in Beijing
The Forbidden City in Beijing

The primary airport in the Chinese capital, Beijing Capital International Airport is the second busiest airport in the world. The airport saw a footfall of 95.8 million people last year and is the hub for China Air, Hainan Airlines, China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines.

Layover Lesson

A day in Beijing is a great way to get a quick primer on Chinese culture and history. Explore the royal palace in the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and the Great Wall of China that runs through the north of the city. A layover in Beijing makes for a great bite sized China holiday.  

3 Dubai International Airport

Burj Khalifa, Dubai
Burj Khalifa, Dubai

The Middle East’s largest airport, Dubai International Airport sees 88 million passengers each year. The airport itself, like the rest of Dubai is opulence itself. Shop for Hermes scarves and Rolex watches while waiting for your connecting flight.

Layover Lesson

A layover in Dubai should introduce you to most of the biggest Dubai attractions. Megastructures like the Burj al Dubai, Burj Khalifa, Dubai Frame and Dubai Mall are some of the best places to see in Dubai. The city also offers desert safaris, sky diving sites, indoor skiing, Michelin starred restaurants and water sports to entice you to stay in Dubai that much longer.  

4 Los Angeles International Airport  

Hollywood, California
Stargaze in LA

LAX handled nearly 85 million passengers last year and that number is rising steadily. The airport is the hub for Spirit Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Allegiant Air. LAX also holds the record for being the busiest origin and destination airport in the world.

Layover Lesson

Turn your layover into a USA trip with an LA layover. Hit the beaches, climb the hills and explore Hollywood. Walk down Venice Beach, stargaze in Beverly Hills and enjoy the views from Griffith Observatory like a real Angeleno.

5 Tokyo Haneda International Airport

A Park in Tokyo
A Park in Tokyo

84 million passengers go through Tokyo Haneda International Airport each year making it fifth on our list of the busiest airports in the world . The airport gives you a glimpse of Tokyo with delicious ramen and fresh sushi available at the large food halls in the terminal.

Layover Lesson

There’s a lot to see in and around Tokyo that makes for a great bite sized Japan holiday. There’s a lot in Tokyo that should make your list of things to do in Japan. Make your way to Akihabara to see the latest in electronics or the department stores of Ginza. The Harajuku neighbourhood is known for its influence on pop culture and is the best place to grab comic books and action figures as well as the famous Meiji Shrine, one of Tokyo’s biggest icons.

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