The Top 5 Biggest Airports in the United States

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Passengers take a moving walkway to their departure gate.
Passengers take a moving walkway to their departure gate. (Image: Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images)

There are thousands of airports in the U.S., and the biggest are also some of the busiest in the world. While they can be measured by area, the factor most often used to rank airports is traffic, meaning the landing or taking off of an aircraft. America's major airports not only host passengers, but move cargo and provide employment for hundreds of thousands of workers.

Hartsfield - Jackson Atlanta International

Since 2000, Hartsfield-Jackson airport in Atlanta has been the busiest in the world. It's a major hub for Delta, and more than 90 million passengers annually pass through its gates. The airport is the largest employer in the state of Georgia, sprawling across 4,700 acres. For passengers, the airport holds many restaurants and shops, including Atlanta staples like The Varsity, a hot dog and burger joint. Wi-Fi is available for a small fee.

Chicago O'Hare

The second largest airport complex in the U.S. saw more than 1 million flights depart in 2012, and spans 7,000 acres. The airport makes up for emissions with a green roof program, where vegetated roofs grow atop the airport, and goats, sheep, donkeys and llamas are on site to cut the grass. WiFi is provided for a small fee. Passengers should know to double-check gates for connecting flights, as they change often.

Los Angeles International

Regularly featured in movies, Los Angeles International Airport is not only one of the biggest and busiest, but also one of the most well known. More than 61 million passengers took off from LAX in 2011, and because it's a central point for celebrities, paparazzi are often waiting near the doors.

The airport was built as a landing strip for pioneer aviators in the 1920s, making it one of the oldest in the U.S. Today, the space-themed Encounters restaurant on the roof draws visitors in on it's own. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the airport.

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

Everything is big in Texas, including the immense 17,000 acre Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. As one of the leading hubs for American Airlines, the airport facilitated more than 600,000 flights in 2012. The Skylink train helps passengers navigate through the terminals, and the stations display the work of local artists. Free Wi-Fi is available as are dining and shopping options.

Denver International Airport

At 32,920 acres, this busy airport is also the largest in the U.S. It's so large that the other four biggest U.S. airports would fit inside Denver's space. That means passengers should arrive early and have ample time to move around. After years of customer complaints, the airport has renovated to include trendy wine bars and other restaurants, as well as more shopping options. Basic Wi-Fi is free, or but you can pay for premium service.

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