Atlanta Airport Guide: How to Make the Most of Your Time at the World's Busiest Airport
ATL maps, transportation, parking, food options, and more.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport aka ATL is the world’s busiest airport by passenger traffic and number of flights, accommodating an estimated 104 million passengers a year, traveling on almost 1 million flights. Most passengers connect through ATL, making it an entry point into the United States and a global gateway to Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, Africa, and South and Central America.
ATL is a primary hub for Delta Air Lines, and a focus city for low-cost carriers Frontier, Southwest, and Spirit. Other domestic carriers that operate at ATL include Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, JetBlue, and United Airlines. Delta accounts for 75 percent of the airport’s passengers or roughly 1,000 flights a day from ATL.
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. During World War II, the airport was used by the Air Force to service combat aircrafts and doubled in size. Candler Field became the Atlanta Municipal Airport in 1943, Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport in 1980, and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in 2003, when the Atlanta City Council voted for the change to honor the city’s first black mayor, Maynard Jackson.
Located 10 miles south of downtown Atlanta, ATL airport is accessible by major highways – Interstates 20, 285, 75, and 85. The fifth runway that opened in 2006 is the only one in the nation that runs over an interstate (I-285 also referred to as the Perimeter), and the control tower at ATL is the tallest in the United States at 398 feet.
ATL Parking, Car Rentals, and Transportation to and from Downtown
The red and gold lines of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (or MARTA) terminate at the Airport station, and connect to the city of Atlanta. The Hartsfield–Jackson Rental Car Center (RCC) houses 13 rental car agencies, while there are 30,000 on-site parking spaces and several private off-site airport parking sites for as little as $3 per hour. Through the most recent effort to become the greenest airport in the world, ATL now provides 102 electric vehicle charging stations at North and South Domestic Terminal Daily lots.
Shared ride shuttles leave the airport every 15 minutes and cost approximately $17 per person to downtown; $19 to midtown; and $30 to Buckhead. Uber and Lyft typically charge half of that.
Atlanta Airport Hotels
Atlanta Airport Terminals
ATL has two terminals – the Domestic Terminal and the Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal, where passengers can check in and claim bags. The Domestic Terminal has north and south entrances, and the South Domestic Terminal is also called Atlanta Airport Delta Terminal as it exclusively serves Delta passengers.
Atlanta Airport Wi-Fi and Amenities
Free Wi-Fi and charging stations are available throughout the airport. Atlanta Airport is one of the few airports in the U.S. to have a smoking lounge and a Delta Sky Club at every single concourse. If you are traveling with a pet, there’s a service animal relief area at each concourse. There are also WellsFargo ATMs, Travelex currency exchange, and FedEx Express.
Navigating the 4,700-acre complex of 209 domestic and international gates, and over 300 shopping, dining, and service locations, can be overwhelming for most passengers. Here is a map of Atlanta airport terminals and concourses including where to shop and eat to help plan your next layover or visit to Atlanta.
Atlanta Airport Domestic Terminal Guide
Related: ATL Domestic Terminal Map
ATL Domestic is one of the busiest airports in the world, divided into six concourses, each well equipped with casual to formal dining, shopping, and entertainment. The Atrium is a mixed-use lobby area for passengers to relax and to grab a drink with friends or colleagues before checking in.
One of Atlanta’s classic soul food restaurants, Paschal’s, has three locations (Atrium, Concourse A and C) serving award-winning fried chicken while Atlanta Chophouse and Brewery offers classic steaks and prime rib with craft beers. There’s also Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and We Juice It to fuel up on before conquering the crowds.
After security, passengers take the SkyTrain to concourses A-F.
Located soon after security, the smallest of the concourses has 17 gates, where ATL Airport does a great job in showcasing locally owned businesses and flavors.
Build your own burger with pimento cheese, fried green tomatoes, and Vidalia onion rings at Grindhouse Killer Burgers (Concourse T, D); or grab a New York-style bagel at Jewish family-run Goldberg’s Bagel Company (T, A).
Sip on a mojito and enjoy Latin music at Cuban refugee-owned Papi’s Cuban Grill. There’s also a to-go counter and a shop inside the restaurant selling an eclectic collection of books, art, T-shirts, and posters.
Argo Tea Café and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf are two options for caffeine on the go.
Bourbon lovers should leave themselves a few extra hours to spend at Atlanta Stillhouse for a flight experience (there are 32 bourbons to choose from).
There are few options for last-minute gifts at Concourse T. If you forgot your headphones at home or want an upgrade, B-Iconic has trending technology. Shop for natural skincare and beauty products at Lather, or vintage-inspired leather handbags and accessories from Patricia Nash.
Things to Do
ATL has Minute Suites at Concourses B and T where you can nap, watch T.V., or work. The private suites can be rented for 1-8 hours, and come with a daybed sofa, pillows, blankets, and HDTV, as well as showers for an additional fee.
Passengers with Delta Sky Club membership and same-day boarding pass (business/ first class) on a SkyTeam-operated flight may use the Delta Sky Club lounge. SkyTeam Elite Plus members, Delta Reserve Credit Card members, and customers with select Platinum Cards and Centurion Cards also get complimentary access to the lounge.
The only other non-Delta lounges at ATL Domestic are United Club (for Star Alliance carriers) and Admirals Club (American Airlines or partners) lounges on Concourse T. You must have a same-day boarding pass and club membership to access the lounges.
Concourse A has 29 gates with lots of choices for dining and shopping.
Pick up sandwiches or burgers at Atlanta Bread & Bar, Brioche Doree Café Bakery, Chick-fil-A, or Shake Shack
Concourse A has Abica Coffee, Caribou Coffee, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, and Dunkin’ Donuts for freshly brewed coffee and snacks.
If you are craving for something sweet, head over to Pinkberry for a frozen yogurt or local bakery Piece of Cake for rich slices of pound cake.
Atlanta Hawks Bar & Grill and Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant are good places to grab a beer and watch a game before you board.
With luxury brands like Bulgari, L’Occitane en Provence, MAC Cosmetics, and Salvatore Ferragamo, there’s retail therapy available when you need it at Concourse A. In case you under packed, head to ExOfficio for quality travel and safari clothing for men and women.
Things to Do
There’s nothing like getting a trigger point massage between long flights. The Chiroport Chiropractic can adjust your spine in 15 minutes. You can also get a manicure, massage, and facial at Xpress Spa (Concourse A, C, D).
There are two Delta Sky Club lounges at this concourse.
Concourse B is not your best bet for a sit-down dinner. It has a modest mix of food kiosks and fast casual restaurants across its 32 gates.
For a healthier alternative, order a salad at the local franchise Fresh to Order. South American-style fruit cups, smoothies, and sandwiches are available at Lotta Frutta. If you are craving something heartier, go to celebrity chef Bobby Flay's Bobby’s Burger Palace.
Besides the bars above, TGI Friday's is your only bet for a sit-down meal here.
Café Intermezzo is a European-style coffee shop with crepes, sandwiches, and desserts. There’s also Café Tazza, Coffee Beanery & Purple Leaf Café, and Dunkin Donuts at Concourse B.
Beer lovers would enjoy the watering holes at Concourse B. Blue Moon Brewhouse offers beers on tap along with farm-to-table fare. Or grab a pint at Sweetwater Brewery’s Sweetwater Last Cast Bar & Grill along with wraps and sandwiches.
Brookstone, Sean John, The Beauty Lounge, and Kiehl’s are worthwhile shopping venues at this concourse, though you will find ample newsstands selling magazines, T-shirts, and souvenirs as well. Find toys and gifts for little ones at Panda Veranda.
Things to Do
Like other concourses, there are Minute Suites, nursing stations, smoking lounges, service animal relief areas, and a Delta Sky Club lounge.
The largest departure area is Concourse C with 48 gates. There are lots of choices to eat, from Mexican to sushi.
The Original El Taco has the best Oaxaca-style tacos in all of ATL and The Varsity is an Atlanta icon you must visit once. The original location in downtown Atlanta is the biggest drive-in restaurant in the world, serving 100-year-old burger and chili dog recipes.
If you didn’t get a chance to stay in Atlanta, Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint is a good place to enjoy southern soul food, like chicken and waffles, while watching a basketball game on the big screen.
Pick up premium handmade pralines, chocolates, and pecan pies to take home from Savannah’s Candy Kitchen. For immediate sweet tooth satisfaction, have a Pino Gelato.
There’s one small Starbucks at Concourse C without any seating.
Kiosks sell cosmetics, electronics, magazines, and cosmetic jewelry.
This concourse is best known for its celebrity-owned sports bars serving the 43 gates. Most other dining options are fast food and kiosks.
National chains like Buffalo Wild Wings, Chipotle Mexican Grill, and Einstein Bros. Bagels dominate this concourse.
Atlanta rapper Ludacris opened Chicken+Beer where you can taste contemporary southern dishes like fried chicken skins with Hotlanta sauce, beer flights, and serious cocktails.
Grab a fresh-baked pastry and cappuccino at timeless classic Harvest & Grounds Bakery Coffee.
The Terrapin Tap House Cigar and Smoke Lounge is the only one at ATL that sells over a dozen brands of cigars and shisha hookah tobaccos in different flavors.
40/40 Club luxury sports bar and lounge co-owned by hip-hop mogul Jay-Z features huge plasma T.V.s.
If you are a Braves fan, make sure to check out the Atlanta Braves All Star Grill with lots of sports memorabilia hanging on brick walls.
It’s easy to find something for yourself or your sweetheart at luxury retailers Johnston and Murphy and Swarovski Jewelry.
Travelers are greeted to the tunes of a live piano player at the center point of Concourse E, which serves international and domestic passengers. There are 28 gates at E, with plenty of options for duty-free shopping.
If you are running late to catch your flight, you can count on fast food restaurants like Panda Express, McDonald’s, and Arby’s to satisfy your palate.
Inspired by global cuisines, One Flew South is consistently ranked as one of the best airport restaurants. The upscale dining experience includes fresh sushi, seafood, salads, and an extensive wine list.
Stay awake with a cup of Caribou Coffee for those late-night connections.
Atlanta-based Spanx sells shapewear, hosiery, and slimming leggings at Concourse E. Travelers can also spend considerable time and money at the Duty-Free shops, Michael Kors, Montblanc, Pandora, Swatch, and Tumi, to name a few. The All Atl gift shop features Atlanta and Georgia-themed merchandise from local attractions, including The High Museum of Art, the Atlanta Braves, Stone Mountain Park, and CNN Center.
Things to do
An Interfaith Chapel located behind the Martin Luther King Jr. exhibit at the top of the elevator (post-security) holds regular services for a variety of denominations.
Atlanta International Terminal and Concourse F
Related: ATL International Terminal Map
The new international terminal and 12-gate Concourse F opened in May 2012, and approximately 100,000 travelers pass it each month. There is a free shuttle bus between the domestic and international terminals, which takes about 12 minutes and runs 24 hours a day.
The new complex includes an additional entry into ATL with separate parking, check-in kiosks, security checkpoints, baggage claim area, and U.S. customs. Note: you need not have an international flight to go through the international terminal and security lines are often a lot shorter.
International carriers Air Canada, Air France, British Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Korean Air, Lufthansa, Qatar, Turkish, and Virgin Atlantic along with Delta have check-in counters at the international terminal.
Delta recently started offering a new biometric option to international passengers flying nonstop from Atlanta on Delta and its partner airlines Aeromexico, Air France-KLM, and Virgin Atlantic. This means facial scanning machines will replace the need to show your passport at self-service kiosks, baggage counters, TSA checkpoints, and boarding gates.
MARTA isn’t as easily accessible from the international terminal. You must take a shuttle bus from the international terminal to the main terminal station first.
There’s a short-term hourly parking garage, as well as a long-term park-ride garage with a three-minute shuttle bus ride to the terminal, and a Gold Reserve parking lot that requires registration. Gold Parker program members pay $25 to obtain a lot access card, and then must deposit a minimum of $408 into a Gold Parker account for private, gated parking for $34 per day.
A quick bite can be had at the food court upstairs where Atlanta favorites El Taco and The Varsity can be found.
Located on the mezzanine level, Ecco is a good spot for listening to music, drinking a glass of wine, and nibbling on cheese and cured meats. To taste Georgia’s Atlantic seafood delicacies like jumbo and fried crawfish, head to the Jekyll Island Seafood Company, located right after security.
Duty Free Americas is the largest store at Concourse F selling cosmetics, alcohol, chocolates, and the usual airport fare.
Things to Do
The Club at ATL is a small airport lounge with two-story glass windows offering views of the city. The lounge, used by all other airlines except for Delta, often gets packed and there may be a wait to get in. Day passes can be purchased for $40. The Delta Sky Club lounge is more spacious and offers complimentary wine and beer, eight showers, and an outdoor Sky Deck. If you need to worship, ATL has three InterFaith chapels (Terminal F, E and Atrium).
The airport art program features 10 permanent and three rotating installations throughout the airport, including “A Walk Through Atlanta History.”