Chicago-O'Hare is Now the Nation's Busiest Airport, Overtaking Atlanta

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Chicago-O’Hare is Now the Nation’s Busiest Airport, Overtaking Atlanta

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After reigning as the nation's busiest airport by aircraft departures and arrivals for four years, Atlanta (ATL) has been dethroned. Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) was the busiest U.S. airport in 2018, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Associated Press reports that ORD saw 903,000 departures and arrivals last year, narrowly edging out the 895,000 at ATL. ORD reclaims the title as the busiest airport in the country for the first time since 2014. Los Angeles (LAX) ranked third, followed by Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) and Denver.

Of course, that's just in aircraft traffic. By passenger counts, Delta's ATL hub puts ORD – and the rest of the world – to shame. More than 100 million passengers pass through ATL every year, making it the most trafficked airport in the world. ORD, meanwhile, sees just 79 million or so passengers each year.

So what's behind that discrepancy?

Two major airlines consider ORD a hub: United and American. And both airlines have hundreds of flights in and out of Chicago every day, connecting passengers from towns large and small in the region.

Meanwhile, Delta rules ATL with an iron fist. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the airline controls more than 72% of traffic in and out of Atlanta. United is the top dog in Chicago, but only controls 32% of air traffic.

In short: More planes move in and out of Chicago. But more people are on the planes flying through Atlanta.


Bottom Line

Welcome to the winner's circle, ORD. But you've only got ATL beat by one metric.


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Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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