Airports. The only places in the world where it’s quite normal to see people rummaging through open suitcases in the middle of a public space, breathless and sweaty, trying to decide if the extra pair of shoes are really necessary before their luggage disappears on a rubber belt. That place where it’s regular for people from all walks of life to curl up on a bed of duffle bags or stretch out for a night on a wooden bench. The only waiting room you’ll ever find with access to tax-free cigarettes and alcohol. Airports are pretty odd places when you think about it and they seem to get bigger, busier and more bizarre each year!
According to the Airports Council International (ACI), the rate of passenger traffic increased by an average of 5.2% across 20 of the world’s busiest airports of 2017. Among these airports were London, Shanghai, and Frankfurt but let’s see which airports made the top 5:
1. Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Passengers Served (2017): 103, 902 992
Despite a 0.3% drop in passenger traffic this US airport has held the top spot on passenger traffic since 1998. Its location in Atlanta makes it just 2-hours from 80% of the population and convenient for international travellers as flights connect to all major international airports. This hectic space has served over 100 million passengers during the year of 2017. It has a whopping 1,296 toilets, 83 shops, 77 restaurants, and churns out approximately 57 tonnes of trash every day.
2. Beijing Capital International Airport
Passengers Served (2017): 95, 876 442
Unsurprisingly, one of the world’s largest and busiest airports is located in China. Passenger traffic at Beijing International boomed in 2008 when a 3rd terminal was added to receive visitors for the Olympic Games. Since then it’s maintained its position as one of the world busiest airports. Between 2014 and 2016 Beijing International reduced its carbon emissions by 16% and is considered a ‘Green Airport’ despite major growth and increased air traffic.
3. Dubai International Airport
Passengers Served (2017): 88, 242 099
While Dubai takes the top spot in terms of international traffic it still only makes number 3 in terms of overall passenger traffic. That may change very soon. In 2017 ACI saw a 5.5% increase in passenger traffic and with all its cool new features like snooze cubes, Zen Gardens, and an outdoor swimming pool, we may well see Dubai International taking the 2nd or even 1st spot within a few years.
4. Tokyo (Haneda) International Airport
Passengers Served (2017): 85, 408 975
In 2017 this airport knocked LA International Airport out of 4th place with a 6.5% increase in passengers arriving and departing. Not only is Haneda the busiest airport in Japan, it’s also the largest and, best of all, it’s much easier to reach from the city centre than Tokyo Narita Airport. Between Edo Alley, the airports Food Street, humanoid guided tours, and a panoramic viewing desk in Domestic Terminal 2, passengers can easily while away more than a few hours in this modern complex. For those caught on an overnight transfer, the airport is prepared with capsule hotel beds and Haneda Sky Ale, the airports very own craft beer.
5. Los Angeles International Airport
Passengers Served (2017): 84, 557 968
California’s largest airport is also the 2nd largest in the USA, it boasts 9 terminals, over 22,000 parking spaces and 1,000 cargo planes departing each day. With connecting flights to over 85 international destinations, you may well transfer here on a flight to the US. It’s also famous for inter-galactical arrivals. No, I’m not kidding. In 2011 the Space Shuttle Endeavour made a dramatic return to California, carried on a NASA plane which landed on one of the LAX runways.
Img: Haneda Airport by sjkimpo cc by nd 2.0