10 busiest airports in the world – and how to survive a layover

Posted by Adel Groenewald on 16 October 2013

Airports – the unavoidable barrier between you and your dream holiday. Now there may be some of you out there who enjoy the experience of checking in, having coffee, getting your passport stamped and reading while you wait, but I have an inkling feeling that, for most, these massive terminals of human transportation are the low point of the holiday.

Still, we need airports. Millions of us use them on a daily basis. In fact, so many millions use them that a list is in order for the 10 busiest airports in the world. These are the world’s busiest airports with regards to passenger traffic and the Airports Council International put the data together for January to May 2013.

Next time you travel, you might want to try and avoid these, or simply prepare yourself for the amount of people (and the size of the airport) that you’ll be dealing with, whether it be for spending six hours of your trip at or merely for locating your luggage and finding a taxi to get the hell out of there and onwards with your holiday.

You might also find this helpful: How to avoid jetlag. Or if it’s too late: How to cure jetlag

 

The World’s 10 busiest airports

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

In first place for more than a decade already, is the Atlanta’s International Airport. So if you’re making your way to the USA soon, you may get to experience the hub of the massive Delta Air enterprise.

Number of people passed through between January and May

38,154,391

Kill the layover

Live the American culinary dream at TGI Fridays, Burger King, Starbucks and Nathan’s Famous Hotdogs.
Use the wifi – it’s not free though. Be prepared to pay at least $5 for access.
Walk around and enjoy the airport art programme. You may even catch a live music performance.

Photo credit: Redlegsfan21

 

Worlds busiest airports

2. Beijing Capital International Airport

As with so many things Asian, Beijing’s international airport has grown significantly over the passed few years, speeding its way to the top two and growing constantly.

Number of people passed through between January and May

33,917,960

Kill the layover

Take a nap in the pay-by-the-hour-lounge where you can have your own room, shower and wakeup call. It’s 100RMB for an hour (R160) and 340RMB for 4-6 hours (R550).
Use the free wifi.
Take your pick of Asian and Western fast food and Chinese sit-down restaurants
Go for a swim, spa treatment or workout at the Hilton Hotel (1 minute from the airport)

Photo credit: John K

 

Worlds busiest airports

3. London Heathrow Airport

As Europe’s busiest passenger traffic airport, it’s safe to say that Heathrow, and the composed Englishmen who operate it, know how to get people from one place to the next.

Number of people passed through between January and May

27,878,945

Kill the layover

Have a stroll through the art at T5 Gallery in Terminal 5
Have your makeup done for free in any of the terminals, or pay a bit more and bag a massage while you wait for your connection.
Book a room, with TV and internet access in Terminal 3. Minimum booking is three hours and cost £60 (R950).
Take a nap in a more simple, Yotel Cabin with en suite bathroom and free internet. From £25 for four hours (R395)
Have your shoes shined at National Shoeshine, after security in Terminal 5.

Photo credit: Mark Walley

 

4. Dubai International Airport

As one of the airports with the largest number of bored-looking people in the world, Dubai International is mostly a layover airport. Very few tend to get out here and you’ll see loads of people sleeping and wandering through the duty free shops, trying to kill time.

Number of people passed through between January and May

27,124,195

Kill the layover

Make use of the free wifi all around the airport
Locate one of the two quiet lounges in Terminal 1 where you can enjoy a nap – if you can find an open recliner.
Secure a recliner chair in the terminal itself – especially if you have a long layover time. The regular chairs are literally impossible to sleep on.
Shop the world in the duty-free section or take your pick of international eateries spread out through the airport.

Photo credit: Jimmy Harris

 

5. Tokyo International Airport

It may not be the most beautiful looking airport, with cylindrical towers winding people up and down the terminal, but they sure know how to manage their passengers.

Number of people passed through between January and May

26,522,936

Kill the layover

Get a haircut at the Airport Barder in Terminal 1 or QB House in Terminal 2
Enjoy a quick massage at Seiyo-kan in Terminal 2
Relax in more comfortable chairs at one of the five pay lounges in Terminal 2 or the one in Terminal 1
Rent a room for a few hours in First Cabin, a compact hotel inside Terminal 1. From R160 a person for day use

Photo credit: Kentaro Iemoto

 

Worlds busiest airports

6. Los Angeles International Airport

Since Los Angeles is the second most populated metropolitan in the USA, it is to be expected that its airport is constantly filled with passengers moving around inside the country or flying in and out.

Number of people passed through between January and May

26,163,993

Kill the layover

Use the free wifi or opt for a faster internet service at $5 and hour or $8 for 24 hours
Stroll through the airport and enjoy the public art on display throughout.
Find one of two Starbucks’s or try a different kind of American coffee at one of the other breweries.
Eat anything from sushi and baked goods to burgers and ice cream!

Photo credit: Robert Pratt

 

7. O’Hare International Airport Chicago

America is flying high in this top ten with yet another one of its airports carrying some of the largest amounts of people through its terminals every day. The airport was constructed during WWII.

Number of people passed through between January and May

25,804,530

Kill the layover

Purchase a day pass for one of the many lounges spread out along the airport if you don’t belong to one of the airport clubs.
Wifi costs $7 for 24 hours
Become a day member at the Hilton Athletic Club and enjoy facilities like a gym, steam room, sauna and Jacuzzi.
Take a tour of the public art all around the airport
Shop the duty free or eat truly American. Choose between popcorn, cheesecake, donuts, burgers, hotdogs and pizzas

Photo credit: Alan C

 

Worlds busiest airports

8. Dallas Fort Worth International Airport

This is no ordinary airport. In fact, the largest airport in Texas is actually considered a city. This is after the United States Postal Service gave it its own city designation.

Number of people passed through between January and May

24,313,911

Kill the layover

Use the free wifi throughout the terminal or plug into the free wired internet at some of the gates
Get a haircut at the barbershop at terminal C17
Visit the airport yoga studio at D40
Get a manicure or a massage at B24, D20 or D24
You’ll find Minute Suites at D23. Here you can rent a bed or a working station to catch up on sleep or work
Eat anything from American, fast foods, Asian or Italian

Photo credit: Corey Seeman

 

Worlds busiest airports

9. Paris Charles de Gaulle

Also known as Roissy Airport, France’s biggest airport is a hub for Air France. It stretches over 32 square kilometers of land and is still looking to expand.

Number of people passed through between January and May

23,994,717

Kill the layover

Watch one of the latest movies in the cinema at terminal 2E while enjoying a much more comfortable seat than what you’ll find in the rest of the terminal
Terminal 2E also has a spa and you’ll find smaller spa kiosks at Terminals 2C, 2F and 2G
Wifi is free for 15 minutes, after which it costs about €3 for 30 minutes (R40)
Indulge in all your French pastry dreams right here if you’re not getting the chance to enter the city itself at a variety of bakeries and coffee shops

Photo credit: Kazuhisa Togo

 

Worlds busiest airports

10. Soekarno-Hatta International Airport Jakarta

Named after the first president of Indonesia, Jakarta’s airport is spread out over three terminals and you have to catch the free shuttle bus to get from the one to the other. Most of its traffic is domestic and it has only one international terminal.

Number of people passed through between January and May

23,780,418

Kill the layover

The airport hotel is located inside Terminal 2 and you can rent a room for about R800 a day if you’re desperate to get in a few hours of sleep
Pretend you’re in the west by eating KFC and Dunkin’ Donuts or drinking Starbucks, or indulge in the east at one of the local noodle cafes
Get some fresh (albeit humid) air at the airport’s outside restaurant
Visit one of the massage kiosks close to the gates, but only if you don’t mind others watching as you enjoy your express massage

Photo credit: Luke Ma

 






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