How Do You Navigate The World’s Busiest Airport?

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With 3 terminals and 7 concourses, the world’s busiest airport in Atlanta can be daunting to navigate. Getting to your gate on time or getting out of the airport without fighting the plane train crowd isn’t always fast and easy.

A pellucid strategy to navigate the arrival and departure process at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta will shorten the transit time in or out of the airport.

First things first. There are two main entrances to the airport, the domestic and international sides. So it is important to consider both in your entry and exit strategies.

My Departure Strategy

The domestic side actually has two terminals, the South and the North. Both of these entrances have TSA Pre Check but even those lines can be long on a Monday morning. The International terminal doesn’t have TSA Pre Check yet, but word is it’s on the way.

Even though the International Terminal (F) doesn’t have Pre Check, it can still have faster security times. For this reason I go the the F terminal when my departing gate is F, E or D. Plus their Sky Club is the newest addition in the airport.

If I go to the Domestic Terminal, I get dropped off at the lower level (LS1) or the North side near American Airlines. Both of these options give quick access to TSA Pre Check and avoid the South Terminal congestion.

If departing from the A gates, consider walking instead of the train. It can actually be faster if there is a wait for the train.

My Arrival Strategy

Arrival is as easy as departing. It usually takes me 20-25 minutes to get to my car door once the wheels touch down, including plane taxi time (unless there is plane gate competition).

If I’m in T, A, B or C concourses, I head to the domestic terminal and get picked up at LS 1 or LS2. You’ll find a regular line up of car services waiting to pick up their passengers here.

A little used option is arriving into the International Terminal from non-F gates. I do it all the time and save the plane train ride. Plus the walk way from E concourse to F is always empty. Last time through it was just me and a Delta captain.



Bottom Line

A clear strategy can increase your efficiency in navigating the world’s busiest airport and allow you to maximize time at your location prior to the airport.

What’s your strategy?

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  1. The post isn’t clear what airport you’re referring to here since you never put the city or airport name in the original posting.

  2. This is my home airport. My strategy is to arrive early – at least 1 before flight time and then chill with a Starbucks at the gate.

    Is there parking at the new International Terminal? If yes, that I will test your strategy next time I fly out.

  3. Hi Heavenly Jane – Yes! And it is awesome! If you head to the new terminal, I bet you’ll be able to find plenty of parking. Every time I’ve needed to park there, I’ve found space on each level in the front row. Simply walk across the street and head through regular security where there is typically no line. Let us know how it goes.

  4. I moved out of Atlanta long time ago and have avoided that airport like the plague.

  5. Besides the F and E SkyClubs which do you think is the next nicest in either T, A, B, C, or D concourses?

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