Chicago’s O’Hare Unseats Atlanta as the Nation’s Busiest Airport

February 4, 2019, 4:32 PM UTC

For the first time in four years, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is not the busiest in the country. Chicago’s O’Hare has reclaimed the title.

New data from the Federal Aviation Administration shows O’Hare saw 903,747 flights coming and going in 2018. Atlanta came in at 895,502.

The two airports have had a vice-like grip on the title of Nation’s Busiest Airport for decades, exchanging it every few years. Politicians consider it a badge of honor, though passengers are often less excited about the designation, since it often indicates longer lines and more crowded flights. (And it’s especially problematic during events like a government shutdown.) Chicago last held the bragging rights in 2014.

Route expansions by American and United, both of which use Chicago as a major hub, are likely the reason for the shift.

While the top spot has been dominated by Atlanta and Chicago, other airlines that used to be among the nation’s (and world’s busiest) have slowly slipped from the list. New York’s JFK, for instance, fell off the list of the world’s 20 busiest last year.

Of course, it’s more than just the number of flights that make airports appealing to passengers. A recent survey of flyers ranked Las Vegas and Orlando’s airports as the best in the country.

Chicago didn’t even make the Top 10 in that list.