May 20, 2022

Thrive Insider

Exclusive stories of successful entrepreneurs

The Biggest and Busiest Airports in the World and How to Avoid Them

Let’s start by asking, what’s the worst airport in the world?

Is it the busiest, the most remote, the most chaotic, the one where you feared for your life, or the one where the staff made Oscar the Grouch look like Grandpa Joe from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?

The answer is, there’s no one definitive answer. Every regular flier has an airport horror story that they are only too happy to share at the drop of a hat. Whenever the topic comes up among friends, it seems that we all know the world’s worst, or the world’s busiest airport just waiting to ruin our day.

Remember that delay in Charles de Gaulle that caused you to miss your connecting flight, that made you miss your train, that made you miss your kid’s school play, where she was the star and everyone raved about how amazing she was? How could you forget it, your family never will?

Or perhaps it’s a major airport hub created by a maze designer, and not just any maze designer, the world’s best maze designer.

You know the story. You were sure you had plenty of time to make the connection for the next leg of your journey, and you had – at least on paper.

That was until your plane arrived and parked so far from the terminal building that you feared you’d have to take another flight just to get there. Once the overcrowded bus finally did get you there, you discovered you had to take an airport shuttle train to get you to your terminal and your gate – Z-246. Oh, and just to make things worse, there’s an ominous-looking sign hanging above the Connections Information Desk that was put there just for you; ‘Due to technical problems we are experiencing long shuttle train delays. Thank you for your patience.’

Do you remember how it took all of your reserves of strength and patience not to revert to childhood and just lie down on the floor kicking and screaming? Me too.

But, it doesn’t have to be like that.

Smart flies private

It sounds like an airline marketing slogan, but private jet hire is the way to go. That’s if you want to avoid the inconvenience, the crowds, the long queues, the delays, and all the other ingredients that when combined, make up the recipe for an early heart attack.

OK, it has to be said, private jet charters are not for everyone, but for those who value their time – and their sanity – over money, there’s a lot to be said for flying privately and avoiding the busiest airports in the world.

  • Safety factors – Private jet travel reduces exposure to health and security risks
  • Value for money – Private jet charters have become more affordable for those who value time over money
  • The time factor – Flying by private jet – out of local airports – can save you as much as 6 hours on a one-way international flight
  • Protecting your privacy – Some people, athletes, celebrities, political figures, high-net-worth individuals, and top executives value their privacy for many reasons
  • Keep working – Top business people like to remain productive, even when travelling. With a private jet flight, the office travels with you
  • Travel in comfort – Private jets are known for their luxury and attention to detail. Private fliers can even take family, friends, colleagues, pets, choose their own menus, and arrive at their destination rested and relaxed

With a private jet charter, even if you’re flying out of one of the busiest airports in the world – where you would expect delays, overcrowding, and a bad taste in your mouth – the company behind your flight will most likely be a fixed base operator (FBO), with its own private check-in facilities, private lounge, and private entrance away from the main terminal. All of which will save time, stress, and allow for a more relaxed overall travel experience, a far cry from the world’s busiest and biggest airports.

World’s busiest airports

Depending on what metrics you use to measure the busiest airports in the world, the numbers can change dramatically – cargo freight tonnes, number of destinations, domestic, international, number of passengers planning, deplaning and transiting. Don’t be alarmed if you see some furry friends walking around in an airport with a security official. Very often, dogs are brought into airports to sniff for any illegal substances. A popular dog breed used for this purpose due to it’s intelligence and ability to be trained, the Beagle dog is a common airport security dog.

Notwithstanding the present pandemic situation, the top performers (measured by domestic and international passenger travel) may have switched places on the hit parade, but the names remain familiar. However, by operations size, China still boasts some of the busiest airports globally due to the high number of domestic travellers in relation to its vast population size.

  • Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL), Georgia, USA
  • Dubai International Airport (DXB), Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Texas, USA
  • Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN), Guangzhou, China
  • Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL), Delhi, India
  • Tokyo International Airport Haneda (HND), Tokyo, Japan
  • Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Chicago, USA
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), California, USA
  • Denver International Airport (DEN), Colorado, USA
  • Miami International Airport (MIA), Florida, USA

Despite the above list, by operations size, China still boasts some of the busiest airports globally due to the high number of domestic travellers in relation to its vast population size.

World’s biggest airports

Once again, when deciding on the biggest airports in the world, which metrics are used will alter the results dramatically. Perhaps the best way to establish the biggest – or largest – is through the airport’s actual physical footprint. (Other metrics can be found here)

  • King Fahd International Airport (DMM) — Dammam, Saudi Arabia — 776 km2 (299.61 M2)
  • Denver International Airport (DEN) — Denver, CO United States — 135.7 km2 (53.09 M2)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) — Dallas, TX United States — 69.6 km2 (266.88 M2)
  • Orlando International Airport (MCO) — Orlando, FL United States — 53.8 km2 (20.78 M2)
  • Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) — Washington D.C., United States — 48.6 km2 (18.75 M2)
  • Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX) — Beijing, China — 46.6 km2 (18 M2)
  • George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) — Houston, TX United States — 44.5 km2 (17.19 M2)
  • Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) — Shanghai, China — 39.9 km2 (15.4 M2)
  • Cairo International Airport (CAI) — Cairo, Egypt — 36.3 km2 (14 M2)
  • Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK) — Bangkok, Thailand — 32.4 km2 (12.51 M2)

If you’re looking for an airport to get lost in, the King Fahd International Airport in Saudi Arabia, established on a former US airbase, is the size of all five New York boroughs together. Among its facilities is a mosque capable of holding accommodating 2,000 worshippers and a residential community housing over 3,000 people.

The airport is located about 20 miles north of the city of Dammam, however, despite being the biggest airport in the world, it is still only the third busiest in Saudi Arabia and not even among the top 50 busiest airports in the world – that’s a lot of unused space. In fact, the entire facility covers an area of over 190,000 acres with the main 6-story terminal building measuring over 3,500,000 sq. ft. The airport is named after Saudi Arabia’s former King Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and features a 177,000 sq. ft. Royal Terminal for the exclusive use of the Royal family, VIPs and senior ranking foreign officials and government representatives.

Avoiding busy with private jet hire

Over the past two years business and private jets have seen a dramatic increase in popularity by people who value their time, safety, and the ability to arrive at the nearest available airport rather than being limited to international hubs.

Many private air travellers, especially those from the corporate sector, have already built lasting relationships with a reputable private jet charter company. This relationship gives them the ability to control their unique itineraries right down to the last detail.

When conducting extensive negotiations or business deals, timetables are usually thrown out of the window; meetings and negotiations can go on much longer than anticipated, something not covered by scheduled flights. With a private aircraft waiting on the ground, no matter how long it takes to sign the deal, time no longer matters.

That’s why so many top-ranking corporate executives and business owners have come to realise the value offered by private jet charters when it comes to the equation of time over money.