How To Navigate Atlanta Airport

Image of an airport's interior

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the world's busiest, with over 85 million passengers hustling through it every year. The former racetrack has grown since its founding in 1925, becoming a major bridge for international flights. With over 5.8 MILLION square feet to explore, navigating Atlanta International is an intimidating task, but a little preparation and travel know-how can make things a lot smoother for you.

The first step is to familiarize yourself with Atlanta International's layout, and it's easiest to do that by passing by its official website,, and downloading the handy maps the site provides. The maps detail every single shop, restroom, gateway, elevator - just about everything - in each terminal and concourse. They're also color-coded for your convenience.

While you're at the website, check to see what time your flight is, and in what concourse. This way, you'll be able to plan your route without having to stop and ask for directions. It'd be best to arrive very early to avoid long lines. Booking a flight outside the daytime and nighttime rush hours helps, too. Also, check in online. This will save you oodles of time at the airport.

When you arrive at the airport, head for the T-Gates security checkpoint. The main checkpoint services 5 concourses, while the T-Gates checkpoint services just half a concourse. This means that the T-Gates will be a lot less congested than the main checkpoint, giving you comparatively tiny lines to wait on. Once you're through, follow the signs to the airport's subway to get to where you want to go. Just remember that this trick only works for domestic flights - all passengers on international flights have to go through the main checkpoint.

After security clears you, feel free to explore the airport if you've got the time. The Main Terminal's Atrium houses an impressive array of shops, restaurants, services and art exhibits. Refer to your map if you're looking for a place in particular. Every concourse has something to offer, and it's a delight to wander around the enormous airport. If you've got to get to your flight, Concourses T, A and B are a short walking distance away. For the farther concourses, take the subway, which passes through each concourse via 14 stations every few minutes. 

Atlanta International is a major hub for Delta Air Lines - the airline is serviced by each of the airport's concourses. Concourse T also houses United Airlines, while Concourse B hosts Hooters Air. Concourse C, on the other hand, serves Comair and AirTran.

Head on over to Concourse D for Air Canada, America West, Continental Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Independence Air, Northwest Airlink, and US Airways. You'll find international flights on Concourse E, including Aeromexico, British Airways, and Lufthansa, among others.

If you're leaving the airport, a taxi to downtown Atlanta will set you back at least $25 dollars per person, while a bus or shuttle will cost you $12. If you're working with a limited budget, take MARTA, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority. It's got a subway station at the west end of the Main Terminal, with $1.50 train rides departing every 8 minutes.


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