This U.S. Airport Was Just Ranked Busiest in the World — Again

Eight of the top 10 busiest airports are in the United States.

Atlanta's international airport was once again the busiest airport in the world in 2021, according to a new study, seeing more than 75 million passengers pass through its terminals last year.

The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which was temporarily dethroned in 2020 by Guangzhou Bai Yun International Airport, saw a 76.4% increase in traffic compared to the first year of the pandemic, according to the Airports Council International. However, the airport still didn't reach pre-pandemic levels and remained 31.5% down from 2019.

Atlanta was followed by Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Denver International Airport, Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, and Los Angeles International Airport rounding out the top five. Eight of the top 10 busiest airports were in the United States.

"The ACI World passenger traffic rankings tell the story of an encouraging trend of recovery, with most of the recurrent busiest airports pre-COVID-19 back at the top," ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira said in a statement. "Although we are cautious that recovery could face multiple headwinds, the momentum created by reopening plans by countries could lead to an uptick in travel in the second half of 2022."

Travelers at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S
Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

For its part, Guangzhou Bai Yun International Airport fell to No. 8 on the list after seeing an 8% decrease in total passenger traffic compared to last year.

When it comes to international passengers, Dubai International Airport took the top spot with more than 29 million passengers passing through, a 12.7% increase compared to 2020, but still, a 66.3% decrease compared to 2019. That was followed by Istanbul Airport and Amsterdam's Schipol Airport.

Orlando International Airport saw the largest increase in passengers compared to last year, with an 86.7% bump. The airport, which services some of the most beloved theme parks in the world, jumped from No. 27 in 2020 to take the seventh spot in 2021.

In total, global passenger traffic increased nearly 25% compared to 2020 but was still down more than 50% compared to 2019.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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