7.52 passengers per 10 square meters of terminal space, that’s what the North Carolina airport that data shows is the second most crowded nationwide, sees daily. Our friends at S Money researched the floor size of passenger terminals for 128 of the world’s busiest airports. They took that data and then compared this with the average daily passenger numbers each airport receives. This led them to the data of the most crowded airports around the world. They also refined this data for just North America which is what was of interest to me. I, as am most US citizens, more often fly domestically than internationally. Though I’ll take an excuse to go international no questions asked!

The most crowded US airports include several of the ones you’d most expect. Places like Atlanta and LAX welcome huge numbers of passengers so it makes sense that they would be included on this list. But would you have guessed a North Carolina airport not only made the list but almost topped it? At first, I was surprised but then I remembered the state of the airport when I returned from Florida a few weeks ago. Yes, the crowds were the result of a complete afternoon of delays. I was still shocked at the number of people and lack of space to even exit the terminal and the airport.

I’d never seen anything quite like it, and hope I don’t for a long time! Think you know which airport I’m talking about? Keep reading to see the top 9 most crowded airports in North America. Data is provided by S Money. You can read their full study and methodology here. Maybe that two hours early rule needs to be extended a little bit. You can never be too early at the airport in my opinion. Happy traveling!

  • 9. LaGuardia Airport (Queens, NY)

    4.52 passengers per 10 square meters

    LaGuadria sitting in Queens, NY is one of the most popular airports for travelers heading to New York City. That in itself should give you a pretty good idea of how crowded it can get.

  • 8. Logan International Airport (Boston)

    4.63 passengers per 10 square meters

    A Delta hub Boston’s Logan International Airport serves as the airline’s second largest. Numerous international flights especially to Europe depart from Logan daily.

  • 7. O'Hare International Airport (Chicago)

    4.9 passengers per 10,000 square meters

    The main airport serving Chicago and Illinois is O’Hare. You’ll find over 200 daily non-stop flights across the US, as well as to Europe, South America, Asia, the Caribbean, and other international destinations.

  • 6. George Bush Intercontinental Houston Airport

    5.12 passengers per 10,000 square meters

    George Bush Intercontinental Airport is one of the world’s busiest so of course it’s also one of the most crowded. It sits on 10,000 acres and has 5 runways.

  • 5. Hartfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

    Based on sheer traffic the Atlanta airport is the world’s busiest (and why as much as I hate the drive to Atlanta, I’ll make it over flying there!). It’s also the primary Delta hub.

  • 4. Newark Liberty International Airport

    Newark is another popular gateway to the city that never sleeps. And it’s a crowded one, ranking 4th overall on this list.

  • 3. Los Angeles International Airport

    If the New York area is included you know that the other side of the country must be as well. Los Angeles International Airport or LAX is the largest airport on the west coast and one of the primary hubs for international travel.

  • 2. Charlotte Douglas International Airport

    And the second most crowded airport in North America? Charlotte Douglas International. And after arriving at 10pm a few weekends ago after hours of delays across the country, I can attest to this. Getting out of the airport I was dodging people the same way you would trying to leave a playoff football game that went in to overtime and just ended. It was a zoo.

  • 1. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

    And the most crowded North American airport? Seattle-Tacoma International. They average 10.19 passengers per 10 square meters. I’ve actually flown into this airport but don’t remember it being particularly crowded. That however was several years ago!

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