Travel Tips
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Sky High: The World's Most Bustling Airports Revealed

June 25, 2024
Alexis Miller

Traveling through airports can be an exciting yet overwhelming experience. The hustle and bustle, the anticipation of getting to your destination, and the sheer number of people make airports a fascinating ecosystem. 

Navigating these spaces easefully requires reliable connectivity – to alert loved ones of your arrival; to keep tabs on your flights; and to find the best place to grab a snack. Thus, having a travel eSIM is crucial when traveling through these massive airports.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the busiest airports in the world based on the number of annual passengers. We’ll provide insight into what makes each airport unique and why they are crucial hubs in global travel. We’ll also discuss when the busiest times are to travel and how a virtual SIM card can make all of the difference when traveling internationally. 

What Makes an Airport Busy?

Before we dive into the list, it’s essential to understand the criteria used for ranking these airports. The primary factor is the number of annual passengers each airport handles every year. These statistics reflect the airport’s capacity to serve domestic and international travelers, highlighting their importance in the global aviation network.

The Top 10 Busiest Airports in the World

1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)

Location: Atlanta, Georgia, USA 

Annual Passengers: Approximately 110 million 

Interesting Details: ATL has been the world's busiest airport since 1998, serving as a major hub for Delta Air Lines. It offers direct flights to over 150 domestic and 70 international destinations. 

2. Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK)

Location: Beijing, China 

Annual Passengers: Around 100 million 

Interesting Details: This airport is the main international gateway to Beijing and a major hub for Air China. Terminal 3 is one of the largest in the world, showcasing advanced architectural design.

3. Dubai International Airport (DXB)

Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates 

Annual Passengers: Approximately 89 million 

Interesting Details: DXB holds the title for the busiest airport in the world for international passenger traffic. It serves as a significant hub for Emirates and flydubai.

4. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

Location: Los Angeles, California, USA 

Annual Passengers: About 88 million 

Interesting Details: Known for its iconic Theme Building, LAX is a major hub for American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, offering flights to destinations on six continents.

5. Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND)

Location: Tokyo, Japan 

Annual Passengers: Approximately 85 million 

Interesting Details: One of the two primary airports serving the Greater Tokyo Area, Haneda is renowned for its punctuality and efficiency, handling significant domestic and international traffic.

6. O'Hare International Airport (ORD)

Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA 

Annual Passengers: Around 83 million 

Interesting Details: ORD is a major hub for United Airlines and American Airlines, known for its complex runway system and innovative design. Because of the unpredictability of Illinois weather, having an eSIM unlimited data plan for North America will ensure you can keep up with work or your followers, even if your plane is delayed. 

Pro Tip: Check out our tips for navigating the three largest and busiest U.S. airports on this list!  

7. London Heathrow Airport (LHR)

Location: London, United Kingdom 

Annual Passengers: About 80 million 

Interesting Details: The busiest airport in Europe by passenger traffic, LHR is a major hub for British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, famous for its extensive duty-free shopping and dining options.

8. Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)

Location: Hong Kong, China 

Annual Passengers: Approximately 74 million 

Interesting Details: HKG is known for its modern design and efficiency, serving as a significant hub for Cathay Pacific. It’s consistently ranked among the world’s best airports.

9. Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG)

Location: Shanghai, China 

Annual Passengers: About 72 million 

Interesting Details: Pudong is a major international gateway and a hub for China Eastern Airlines and Shanghai Airlines. It’s renowned for its rapid transit connections and state-of-the-art facilities.

10. Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG)

Location: Paris, France 

Annual Passengers: Around 72 million 

Interesting Details: The largest international airport in France, CDG is a major hub for Air France and one of the busiest airports in Europe, celebrated for its impressive architecture and efficient transit systems.

Pro Tip: CDG is going to see a massive influx of tourists, thanks to the 2024 Olympics Games. Make sure to plan accordingly! 

Busiest Travel Periods

Travel patterns fluctuate throughout the year, with certain periods seeing a notable surge in passenger traffic. Here are some of the busiest travel times globally:

Summer Vacation (June to August)

Families travel during summer break, leading to higher passenger volumes at airports.

Thanksgiving (Late November)

In the United States, Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel periods as people travel to be with family.

Christmas and New Year’s Holidays (Late December to Early January)

The holiday season sees a peak in global travel for celebrations and Christmas vacations – especially for Asian cultures where New Year’s is an important holiday. 

Chinese New Year (January or February)

One of the largest annual travel periods in China and other countries with significant Chinese populations.

Spring Break (March to April)

Spring often results in a surge in travel, especially among students and families, primarily in North America who take trips for “Spring Break.”

Golden Week (Late April to Early May)

In Japan, Golden Week creates a busy travel period due to multiple national holidays: Shōwa Day (April 29), Constitution Day (May 3), Greenery Day (May 4), and Children’s Day (May 5). 

Eid al-Fitr & Eid al-Adha (Dates vary)

These Islamic holidays lead to increased travel in many Muslim-majority countries. 

Special Events and Festivals

Major events like the Olympic Games, the World Cup, and significant cultural festivals also lead to busy travel periods.

During these peak times, it’s advised to book flights and accommodations well in advance, arrive at airports early, and be prepared for longer wait times at security and check-in counters.

eSIM Cards: Your Best Travel Companion

If you find yourself in the middle of one of these airports, chances are you’ll need Internet access. From accessing airport maps from your device, to finding a local airline club to rest in, to hailing a local ride-sharing service – reliable connectivity is important to make your travels stress-free. 

In order to reduce the hassle, make sure you buy eSIM plans before you leave on your trip. Using an eSIM app like GigSky is easy; download the app over high-speed Internet, purchase your plan, install and be ready to activate it when you arrive. It’s that easy! 


The busiest airports in the world are pivotal global transportation hubs that facilitate international travel and commerce. Their large passenger traffic underscores their significance in the global aviation network. Whether you're a frequent flyer or an occasional traveler, understanding these airports and their peak travel times can make your journeys smoother and more enjoyable.

The best eSIM app ensures you have a connection to the Internet the moment you land at your destination. Travel with ease and assurance knowing GigSky has you covered. 

Ready to plan your next trip? Learn more about navigating these bustling airports and make your travel experience seamless. Find your eSIM online or in the iOS or Play Store.