Also known as ATL, this has been the world’s busiest airport by passenger traffic since 1998 and by number of landings and take-offs more often than not since 2005. Seven miles south of Atlanta’s central business district, the Georgia airport accommodated over 100 million passengers and nearly one million flights in 2012 alone, which breaks down to about 260,000 passengers per day. Most of those flights are domestic. ATL is Delta’s primary hub (it accounts for over 75 percent of the airport’s passengers), and a focus city for Frontier, Southwest, and Spirit.
Founded in 1925 on an abandoned auto race track called the Atlanta Speedway, the airport was first named Candler Field after the property’s former owner and the city’s former mayor, Coca-Cola magnate Asa Candler. (Though not located within the airport, the Candler Field Museum in Williamson, Georgia, aims to recreate the original airport as it appeared in the 1920s and 1930s.) The first flight to land was a mail plane from Jacksonville, Florida, in 1926. By 1930, it was already the third busiest airport in the country behind only New York City and Chicago.
An airport of many names, Candler Field became the Atlanta Municipal Airport in 1943 and Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport in 1980. Its current name, the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, came about in 2003, when the Atlanta City Council voted for the change to honor the city’s first black mayor, Maynard Jackson, who had passed away that year.
A new global terminal, also named in honor of Maynard Jackson, was opened in May of 2012. The 40-gate complex introduced a new system for picking up and rechecking bags that could save passengers as much as 45 minutes.
Though many of ATL’s visitors are just passing through, going from one connecting flight to another, travelers departing or arriving in Atlanta can choose between ground and rail transportation. The domestic terminal is served by I-85, the international terminal by I-75. The red and gold lines of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (or MARTA) terminate at the Airport station, and connect ATL to Atlanta proper.