The United States has some of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, so it stands to reason that the country's airports are some of the globe's busiest. In this quick guide, we rank the USA's busiest airports. For quieter and crowd-free travel alternatives, I've also listed nearby airports when available.
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Location/Closest City: Atlanta, Georgia
Airport Code: ATL
Hartsfield-Jackson Airport is the busiest passenger airport in the world (Beijing comes in second), with more than 100 million passengers a year, according to a traffic report by Airports Council International. It services the bustling Southern city of Atlanta and is the primary airport for visitors to the Southeast U.S. Plus, it's only a two-hour flight from 80 percent of the US population. More than Many southern regional airlines operate out of Hartsfield-Jackson and Delta Airlines has its hub here. ATL has 151 domestic and 28 international gates.
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Location/Closest City: Chicago, Illinois
Airport Code: ORD
O'Hare was the busiest airport in the United States for years until Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson took that title away in the late 1990s. O'Hare is a major connecting airport for destinations in the Midwest and is a hub for United Airlines
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Location/Closest City: Los Angeles, California
Airport Code: LAX
Los Angeles International is undergoing renovations to help handle the influx of visitors from Asia and the Pacific. Visit their site to check out the latest updates, tips for navigating the airport, and more. Besides being the main airport for travelers to Los Angeles, Hollywood, and Southern California, LAX handles many connections to Hawaii and destinations on the West Coast. Check out this Guide to Los Angeles Airports, including LAX and nearby airports in Burbank, Long Beach, Santa Ana, and Ontario.
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Location/Closest City: Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas
Airport Code: DFW
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is the busiest airport in the state of Texas. Because of the airport's size, the airport has its own postal code and post office. DFW has also been named one of the nation's most tech-friendly airports. American Airlines has a hub at DFW.Continue to 5 of 25 below.
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Location/Closest City: New York City
Airport Code: JFK
The main international airport for New York City, JFK sees arrivals and departures from almost every international airline in the world. While a number of domestic flights are handled at JFK, the nearby LaGuardia Airport (near the end of this list) is NYC's main domestic airport. American Airlines and Delta Airlines have a large number of connections through JFK, as does the popular, low-cost airline JetBlue Airways.
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Location/Closest City: Denver, Colorado
Airport Code: DEN
Denver International Airport is the largest airport by area in the United States (it's twice the size of Manhattan!). Many regional carriers, particularly Frontier Airlines and Southwest Airlines, connect to DEN. Travelers visiting the western states of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Montana, and New Mexico will likely travel via Denver.
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Location/Closest City: San Francisco, California
Airport Code: SFO
With three domestic terminals and one international terminal, San Francisco International Airport is the second largest airport in California and serves as a hub for West Coast travelers to and from Europe and Asia. The hip airline Virgin America has its base of operations at SFO and United has a large hub here. It's won awards for its green design and efforts to reduce waste, water use, and greenhouse gases .
- San Francisco Airport Alternatives, including San Jose and Oakland Airports.
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Location/Closest City: Las Vegas, Nevada
Airport Code: LAS
Although the glitz of Las Vegas is minutes away, travelers need not leave the McCarran International Airport to gamble, as there are more than 1,000 slot machines available to avid gamblers right inside the terminals. Airlines that serve LAS include low-cost carriers like Southwest and Spirit, as well as United, American, and Delta.Continue to 9 of 25 below.
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Location/Closest City: Phoenix, Arizona
Airport Code: PHX
Serving Phoenix and points in throughout the Southwest, Phoenix Sky Harbor has 120 gates in three terminals. It's also dubbed "America's Friendliest Airport" for its stellar customer service. The main airlines here are U.S. Airways and Southwest.
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Location/Closest City: Houston, Texas
Airport Code: IAH
United Airlines' largest hub is at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, but it is far from the only carrier that services this busy Texan airport. Alaskan, American and Delta airlines also service the airport.The busiest routes to and from IAH include points in Central and South America.
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Location/Closest City: Charlotte, North Carolina
Airport Code: CLT
This airport serves cities in the upper Southeast, including popular destinations in the Carolinas, and is often a common transfer airport alternative to Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport. It is well known for the rows of rocking chairs that line the main hall and provide a relaxing way to spend a layover. CLT is a hub for U.S. Airways and United.
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Location/Closest City: Miami, Florida
Airport Code: MIA
Miami International Airport is the main U.S. gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean. MIA has the largest number of international passenger traffic after New York City's JFK International Airport. American Airlines has a major hub at MIA. Alternate airports to MIA are West Palm Beach Airport and Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport (near the bottom of this list).Continue to 13 of 25 below.
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Location/Closest City: Orlando, Florida
Airport Code: MCO
Visitors to Walt Disney World and surrounding theme parks make Orlando International Airport one of the busiest airports in the USA. Many regional and low-cost airlines serve MCO, including Southwest and JetBlue.
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Location/Closest City: Newark, New Jersey and New York City
Airport Code: EWR
Newark Liberty is a big hub for domestic and international travelers alike. It's undergone a $2.3 billion renovation in terminal A, which was built back in 1973, to handle the record-breaking number of passengers (which was more than 37.5 million total passengers last year). It often offers cheaper flights than its neighboring JFK and LaGuardia airports.
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Location/Closest City: Seattle, Washington
Airport Code: SEA
The locals call this airport SEA-TAC. In addition to being a main airport for points in the Pacific Northwest, SEA-TAC is a hub for Alaska Airlines. It is a convenient 20 minutes away from downtown Seattle.
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Location/Closest City: Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota
Airport Code: MSP
Delta Airlines has a major hub at Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport. In addition to the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, MSP handles passengers going to and from destinations in the Upper Midwest, including Wisconsin, Michigan, and North and South Dakota.Continue to 17 of 25 below.
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Location/Closest City: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Airport Code: PHL
U.S. Airways has one of its largest hubs at this East Coast airport. PHL serves Philadelphia but is also an ideal airport for passengers coming from anywhere in Pennsylvania, south New Jersey, and the Delaware Valley as it is less crowded than the three major New York City-area airports, JFK, LGA, and EWR.
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Location/Closest City: New York City
Airport Code: LGA
LaGuardia Airport is known as New York City's domestic airport, and it handles the bulk of airline commuter shuttles to and from New York. It is located in the northern part of NYC in the Queens borough.Continue to 21 of 25 below.
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Location/Closest City: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Airport Code: FLL
Some travelers like to use Fort Lauderdale International Airport as an alternate airport to Miami (it's approximately 20 miles north of Miami), as it's an ideal entry point for visiting the beaches of south Florida. Southwest, Delta, and JetBlue are some of the major carriers at FLL. It also sees flights from many small, regional airlines.
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Location/Closest City: Chicago, Illinois
Airport Code: MDW
Chicago's smaller airport is an alternative the city's busy O'Hare International Airport (near the top of this list). Southwest Airlines has the largest presence at MDW.