Lonely Planet Writer

There’s a new busiest airport in the US – depending on how you view it

Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International is often called the busiest airport in the US – and the world. But another US airport is claiming to be the busiest in the country, which, depending on how you look at it, is true.

The tunnel at Chicago O’Hare Airport. Image by uschools/Getty Images

Chicago O’Hare had the highest number of total flights last year in the US, according to new data from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The airport broke 900,000 arrivals and departures, which saw it beat Atlanta for the busiest in the country, according to this metric. Atlanta came in second, with more than 895,000 arrivals and departures.

However, as the Atlanta airport was quick to point out in a Twitter exchange with Chicago, it actually remains the busiest airport when it comes to the number of passengers that travel through the airport in a year, thanks to being served by larger passenger jets. The latest statistics for passenger numbers will be released later in the year.

But, a statement from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel also notes that O’Hare was named best connected airport in the country for three years in a row, and the second-most connected in the world after London Heathrow in 2018.

However, while politicians and the airports may be vying for the bragging rights that come along with being the busiest airport in the US, passengers may have a different set of standards when it comes to what they like in an airport.

In the 2018 report on passenger satisfaction from J.D. Power, Las Vegas McCarran International Airport and Orlando International Airport tied for the top spot, followed by Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport and Denver International Airport. The report ranks passenger satisfaction on criteria like terminal facilities, airport accessibility, security check, baggage claim, check-in, food, and retail.