The 7 Busiest Airports In The World Are All In The United States

U.S. domestic travel is back. International routes are just starting to re-open, in fits and starts, with flights filling up across the Atlantic for summer – but there are still fewer of those than there were pre-pandemic. Asia is down markedly, and flights linked to business travel remain scaled back.

A year ago flying was reconfigured to focus on leisure destinations that were broadly open. That meant U.S. airlines flying widebody jets to Cancun, for instance. And it meant that flights to Florida exceeded 2019 levels.

The world’s busiest airports have changed a lot due to changing travel patterns and the restrictions of the pandemic. Eight of the 10 busiest airports in the world in 2021 were in the United States. The seven busiest were all in the U.S. And not a single one was in Europe or the Mideast.

Here are the 10 busiest airports in 2021 and how their ranking compared with pre-pandemic, and how their 2021 traffic compared with 2019 as well.

2021 Rank 2019 Rank Airport 2021 Passengers Vs. 2019
1 1 Atlanta (ATL)  75 704 760 -32%
2 10 Dallas – Fort Worth (DFW)  62 465 756 -17%
3 16 Denver (DEN)  58 828 552 -15%
4 6 Chicago O’Hare (ORD)  54 020 399 -36%
5 3 Los Angeles (LAX)  48 007 284 -46%
6 34 Charlotte (CLT)  43 302 230 -13%
7 31 Orlando (MCO)  40 351 068 -20%
8 11 Guangzhou (CAN)  40 259 401 -45%
9 24 Changdu (CTU)  40 117 496 -28%
10 30 Las Vegas (LAS)  39 754 366 -23%

Atlanta regained the title of World’s Busiest Airport, which is lost in 2020 to Guangzhou. China’s Covid suppression looked good to some observers until it stopped looking so good.

Airport rankings are all going to change again, in fact they are already changing. London Heathrow has nearly 9 million scheduled seats departing next month according to data from Cirium’s Diio Mi. They won’t all be full, but it’s a start. Tokyo Haneda airport, Dubai, and Paris Charles de Gaulle will all recover. So will Amsterdam.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Measured by aircraft movements (takeoffs and landings) all of the top 10 airports were U.S. airports is 2021. To show how screwed up things are, in 2021 Cancun (CUN) was the world’s 10 busiest airport for international passenger traffic.

  2. @Alan – excuse me, the title of armpit belongs to NJ. Don’t misappropriate it 🙂

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