Dare To Explore: 5 Of the World’s Busiest Airports

An airport can be a daunting environment.

Jam-packed with buzzing holidaymakers, snaking queues and stern looking officials, making your way through an airport’s labyrinth-like concourses is a skill in itself.

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For example, London Heathrow sprawls over 1,227 hectares, comprising of five terminals and serving 72 million travellers annually – enough to leave even an experienced orienteer shaking their head in bewilderment.

However, according to new figures, the UK capital’s largest air terminus is only third on the list of the world’s most bustling airports.

Although Heathrow’s passenger numbers have risen by 3.3 per cent in the last year, it was beaten to the top spots by Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and Beijing’s Capital International.

But what makes up the DNA of some of the planet’s liveliest airports? Let’s find out …

1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International (USA)

Crowned as the world’s busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson is a vital connection airport for travellers flying within the US and for European visitors heading to the west of the country or on to Central and South America. Last year, the airport welcomed 94 million passengers through its 167 domestic and 40 international gates.

2. Beijing Capital International (China)

Serving 84 million passengers last year, Beijing Capital International boasts three terminals – the third, the second largest in the world, was opened in time for the 2008 Olympic Games – and recorded 557,167 aircraft movements in the last year. In 2011, the airport was awarded third place in the Best Airport Worldwide by Airports Council International.

3. London Heathrow (United Kingdom)

Consisting of five terminals – its most recent is the largest freestanding structure in the UK, serving 29.8 million passengers annually and offering a smorgasbord of shopping, eating and parking facilities – Heathrow is a real powerhouse in international travel circles. Its most popular destinations include New York, Dubai, Dublin, Frankfurt and Amsterdam.

4. Tokyo International (Japan)

More commonly known as Haneda Airport, Tokyo International served over 68 million passengers last year, making it the second busiest airport in Asia after Beijing Capital. It has capacity to handle 90 million travellers per year after its expansion in 2010. In 2009, ForbesTraveller.com recognised Haneda as the most punctual airport in the world for the second year in a row.

5. Chicago O’Hare International (USA)

O’Hare International welcomed over 66 million passengers through its 189 gates last year.  It offers travellers 108 food and beverage locations and 67 retail outlets to stock up on travel essentials. It also provides free Wi-Fi in all terminals and consists of 229,355 square feet of green roof space to cut the urban heat island effect, preserve energy and reduce runoff from storm water.