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Hartsfield-Jackson (ATL) is the world's busiest airport

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The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is one of the busiest airports in the world. Here's a brief overview of its history:

  • Origins: The airport's history dates back to 1925 when an abandoned racetrack called The Atlanta Speedway was transformed into a municipal airport. It was named Candler Field after its initial owner, Asa Griggs Candler, who was also the co-founder of The Coca-Cola Company.
  • Expansion and Renaming: In 1941, the airport was renamed Atlanta Municipal Airport and underwent significant expansion during World War II to accommodate military operations. In 1950, it was again renamed to William B. Hartsfield Atlanta Municipal Airport in honor of Atlanta's long-serving mayor, William B. Hartsfield.
  • Growth and Modernization: Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the airport continued to expand, adding new runways and terminal facilities. In 1971, it underwent a major transformation with the construction of a new terminal complex, which replaced the outdated facilities. This new terminal became known as the Hartsfield International Terminal.
  • Jackson's Name Addition: In 1980, the airport was renamed Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport to honor the former Atlanta mayor, Maynard H. Jackson, who played a significant role in the expansion and development of the airport during his tenure.
  • Further Expansion and Improvements: In the 1990s and early 2000s, the airport experienced tremendous growth. Several new terminals, concourses, parking structures, and other facilities were constructed to handle the increasing passenger traffic. In 2003, the airport was again renamed Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to reflect both of the former mayors' contributions.
  • Current Status: Today, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is one of the busiest airports globally, serving as a major hub for both domestic and international flights. It has two parallel runways and two terminals: Terminal South and Terminal North. The airport continues to undergo expansions and improvements to accommodate its high passenger volume and maintain its position as one of the world's busiest airports.
  • Key Features: The airport covers a vast area and has numerous amenities for travelers, including a wide range of dining and shopping options, lounges, art exhibits, and even a dog park. It has consistently ranked among the top airports in the world for its efficiency and passenger satisfaction.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has played a crucial role in connecting people and goods, serving as an important transportation hub not only for Atlanta but also for the southeastern United States and beyond.

Historical Facts

  • Inauguration: The airport was officially opened on September 15, 1926, as Candler Field. The first flight, a mail plane, departed from the airport on September 27, 1926.
  • Renaming: The airport has undergone several name changes over the years. It was initially called Candler Field, then Atlanta Municipal Airport, and later William B. Hartsfield Atlanta Municipal Airport. Finally, in 1971, it became Hartsfield International Airport and subsequently Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in 2003.
  • City Ownership: The airport was owned and operated by the city of Atlanta from its inception until 2003. In 2003, the city formed the Atlanta Airport System, which is responsible for managing not only Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport but also the Atlanta airport system as a whole.
  • Olympic Host: Atlanta hosted the 1996 Summer Olympics, and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport played a significant role in accommodating the influx of visitors. Extensive renovations and expansions were undertaken to prepare the airport for the event.
  • Busiest Airport: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has consistently ranked as one of the busiest airports in the world in terms of passenger traffic. It has held this title since 1998, handling millions of passengers annually.
  • Runway Expansion: The airport has five parallel runways. Notably, Runway 8/26 is one of the longest commercial runways in the world, measuring approximately 11,889 feet (3,624 meters).
  • Terminal Complex: The airport features two terminals, Terminal South and Terminal North, which are connected by an underground transportation system called the Plane Train. Each terminal has multiple concourses, designated by letters (T, A, B, C, D, E, F) and offers various amenities for travelers.
  • Global Connectivity: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport serves as a major hub for both domestic and international flights. It provides connections to numerous destinations worldwide, making it a crucial gateway for air travel.
  • Art Program: The airport has an extensive art program that showcases a diverse collection of artwork throughout its terminals. This program aims to enhance the passenger experience and promote local and international artists.
  • Sustainability Efforts: The airport is committed to environmental sustainability. It has implemented various initiatives, such as energy-efficient infrastructure, recycling programs, water conservation efforts, and the use of alternative fuels for ground transportation.

These historical facts highlight the growth, significance, and remarkable achievements of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport throughout its history.


Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport offers a wide range of facilities to enhance the travel experience for passengers. Here are some key facilities you can find at the airport:

  • Terminals: The airport has two terminals, Terminal South and Terminal North, connected by the underground Plane Train. Each terminal has multiple concourses, which are designated by letters (T, A, B, C, D, E, F). Terminals are equipped with various amenities, including information desks, ticketing counters, and baggage claim areas.
  • Dining and Shopping: The airport boasts a vast array of dining options, ranging from fast food chains to sit-down restaurants, cafes, and bars. Passengers can find a diverse selection of cuisine, catering to different tastes and dietary preferences. Similarly, there are numerous retail outlets offering clothing, accessories, electronics, books, souvenirs, and more.
  • Lounges: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport features several lounges, including airline-specific lounges and independent lounges. These lounges provide a comfortable and relaxing environment for passengers to unwind, enjoy refreshments, access Wi-Fi, and make use of business facilities.
  • Parking: The airport offers various parking options, including hourly, daily, and economy parking lots. There are also dedicated parking areas for oversized vehicles and electric vehicle charging stations. A free shuttle service connects the economy parking lots to the terminals.
  • Ground Transportation: Passengers can access a range of ground transportation options to and from the airport. These include taxis, ride-sharing services, shuttles, limousines, rental cars, and MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) trains that connect the airport to downtown Atlanta and other areas.
  • Rental Car Center: The Rental Car Center, located near the airport, houses multiple rental car companies. Passengers can access the center via the ATL SkyTrain, an automated people mover system that connects the airport terminals to the Rental Car Center.
  • Wi-Fi and Charging Stations: Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the airport, allowing passengers to stay connected. Additionally, the airport provides numerous charging stations and power outlets for passengers to charge their electronic devices.
  • Airport Medical Services: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has medical services available for passengers who require medical assistance. The airport has a Medical Clinic and a Travel Wellness Center to provide medical care, vaccinations, and travel-related health services.
  • Pet Relief Areas: The airport has designated pet relief areas to accommodate passengers traveling with pets. These areas provide a safe and convenient space for pets to stretch and relieve themselves.
  • Art Exhibits and Amenities: The airport features an extensive art program, showcasing a diverse collection of artwork throughout its terminals. Passengers can enjoy sculptures, paintings, and other artistic installations. Additionally, the airport offers amenities such as nursing rooms, children's play areas, and a dog park for the convenience and comfort of travelers.

These facilities at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport are designed to cater to the needs of passengers, providing convenience, comfort, and an enjoyable travel experience.

  • Location: The airport is situated approximately 10 miles (16 kilometers) south of downtown Atlanta. It covers an extensive area of about 4,700 acres (1,902 hectares) and spans parts of Clayton and Fulton counties.
  • Topography: The airport's topography is relatively flat, as it is located within the Piedmont Plateau region. The surrounding landscape consists of gently rolling hills and low-lying areas.
  • Runways: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has five parallel runways. They are oriented in two sets, with three runways in the east-west direction and two runways in the northeast-southwest direction. The runways are equipped to handle a wide range of aircraft, including large commercial jets.
  • Confluence of Major Highways: The airport is strategically located at the confluence of major highways, making it easily accessible by road. Interstates 285 (also known as the Atlanta Beltline) and 85 intersect near the airport, providing convenient access for travelers from various directions.
  • Proximity to Atlanta Metropolitan Area: The airport's location places it within close proximity to the Atlanta metropolitan area. This advantageous positioning allows for efficient transportation connections between the airport and the city's downtown core, as well as other surrounding neighborhoods and suburbs.
  • Hartsfield-Jackson City: The airport's location has played a significant role in the development of the surrounding area. In fact, the city of Hartsfield-Jackson, which is not an independent municipality, was named after the airport to acknowledge its importance to the region.

The airport's favorable geography, including its proximity to Atlanta and its convenient transportation links, contributes to its status as a major transportation hub and one of the busiest airports in the world.

Accidents and incidents

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has had a relatively safe operating history. While accidents and incidents are rare, here are a few notable occurrences:

  • Eastern Air Lines Flight 66 (1975): On June 24, 1975, Eastern Air Lines Flight 66, a Boeing 727, crashed while attempting to land at Hartsfield International Airport. The aircraft descended too low and struck trees about a mile short of the runway. The crash resulted in 9 fatalities, including the flight crew, and 77 injuries.
  • Air France Concorde Incident (2000): On July 25, 2000, an Air France Concorde operating Flight 4590 experienced a catastrophic engine failure shortly after takeoff from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. The aircraft crashed into a hotel in Gonesse, France, killing all 109 people on board and four on the ground. The flight had a scheduled stopover at Hartsfield International Airport before the accident.
  • FedEx Express Flight 647 (2009): On December 8, 2009, FedEx Express Flight 647, an MD-10 cargo aircraft, overran the runway during landing at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The aircraft caught fire and sustained substantial damage. The crew members and one passenger survived the accident, but the first officer sustained serious injuries.
  • Delta Air Lines Flight 1086 (2015): On March 5, 2015, Delta Air Lines Flight 1086, a McDonnell Douglas MD-88, veered off the runway during landing at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The aircraft slid down an embankment and came to rest on a roadway. There were no fatalities among the 127 passengers and five crew members, but several people sustained minor injuries.

It's important to note that despite these incidents, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has an excellent safety record overall. The airport maintains strict safety protocols and collaborates with airlines and regulatory authorities to ensure the safety of passengers and aircraft operations.