15 Busiest Airports In The US (10 That Are Often Deserted)

Airports are a place most of us don’t enjoy, but they are necessary to fly from to destination locations. Most people think of the annoying process of checking bags, security checks, long waiting times and delays that come from airports. However, not every United States airport is the same when it comes to the variables that make it enjoyable. The size of an airport can provide a huge difference. Larger airports typically have more delays and issues due to the amount of flights arriving and departing each day, but they typically have more amenities and less annoying waits.

There are also smaller airports in the country that most people don’t even know about. These airports are usually empty due to the fewer number of flights coming in and out. We will look at both sides of the flying industry when it comes to airports of different worlds. The busy ones attract countless people per year flying in or out of the location with hectic day after hectic day of flights. The smaller ones are ones that you’d be shocked are airports at first glance. Find out where your local airport ranks. These are the fifteen busiest airports in the United States and ten that are often deserted.

25 Busy: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Seattle)


The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport attracts many people each day due to its role as the biggest airport in the Pacific Northwest. Most people in the area use this airport whether flying out, flying to or using as a layover airport to catch another flight.

The location is part of the reason for its popularity as it is a very short trip from downtown Seattle. It has positive reviews as a relaxing airport to pass time in while waiting on the boarding time for a flight.

24 Deserted: Charleston International Airport (South Carolina)


South Carolina is not considered a very popular tourist destination which follows suit with having one of the least crowded airports. The Charleston International Airport is described as one of the fastest airports to get in and out of rather quickly.

Many of the issues that annoy passengers like long TSA lines or overpacked seating areas are not in play here. Everyone gets to their flight relatively easy if there are no delays. It is a very quiet and peaceful airport to spend time while looking deserted.

23 Busy: Newark Liberty International Airport (New Jersey)


The New York area has three airports many use when flying. John F Kennedy Airport and LaGuardia Airport are two of the more popular ones legitimately in New York. The other is in New Jersey as Newark Liberty International Airport is very busy.

Many people specifically choose this airport due to a cheaper price than the other New York ones. There are also the folks coming to or leaving New Jersey that will use it. Newark Liberty International Airport recently spent over $2 billion in renovations, and it makes sense given how busy it is.

22 Busy: Orlando International Airport (Orlando)


Florida is a very popular destination when planning a vacation within the United States. The destination of Walt Disney World makes Orlando among the more popular places in Florida. Orlando International Airport in turn becomes extremely busy due to the amount of people coming and leaving for their vacations.

The flights with Orlando International Airport are good deals by those flying in for the Disney World experience. Many people even get discounted flights as part of the Disney World packages. It just makes the Orlando International Airport even busier than it already would be.

21 Deserted: Bellingham International Airport (Washington)


Bellingham International Airport is located between Seattle and Vancouver to provide flights for folks in either area. The location is in a rather quiet area compared to many other airports in busy parts of popular states or cities.

Many people on vacation choose to fly here rather than a busy part of Seattle. It provides a quiet time while still enjoying the beauty of Washington. The airport is very small and doesn’t attract too many unless they are flying in for a very specific reason.

20 Busy: Miami International Airport (Miami)


Another popular Florida airport makes the list as Miami International Airport is extremely busy for many reasons. One reason many fly out of this airport is due to it being the main way to travel to the Caribbean and Latin America from the United States.

Aside from JFK, it gets the most global passengers per year. Miami International Airport is clearly a beloved airport for the importance in taking international vacations from those leaving the country or heading in. It is the busiest airport in Florida.

19 Deserted: McGhee Tyson Airport (Tennessee)


The McGhee Tyson Airport is located in one of the quieter areas of Tennessee in Knoxville. Unlike Nashville, the area of Knoxville is not known for many hot attractions. That leads to the airport here being among the more deserted ones in the country.

Only five airlines fly with the McGhee Tyson Airport. There are some fun little elements to the airport such as rocking chairs to sit in when passing the time waiting on flight time. Not many people travel with McGhee Tyson Airport, but it has a positive reputation.

18 Busy: Charlotte/Douglas International Airport (Charlotte)


There are multiple reasons for Charlotte/Douglas International Airport being a very busy one in the United States. Most people flying into the area will use this airport considering its convenient location in the Charlotte area.

Charlotte/Douglas International Airport is also popular due to connecting various cities on the East Coast in the United States. Many passengers use the airport as the ideal layover airport before taking a connecting flight to their destination. Despite the large crowds, the airport is a rather peaceful one to spend time in.

17 Busy: Houston Airport

via:MICA Corporation

George Bush International Airport is a very busy airport in the Houston area. It is the largest hub for United Airlines in the United States and has a handful of other airlines.

Many of the restaurants in the airport have good reputations. Like with many places in Texas, you will have no problem finding a steak if you want a good meal before flying out of the airport. The airport is not the overall busiest in Texas, but it’s still one of the busiest in the country.

16 Deserted: Blue Grass Airport (Kentucky)


Blue Grass Airport is a quiet and smaller airport compared to most of the others in the United States. Allegiant, Delta and United are the only airlines that fly in or out of this Kentucky airport.

The busiest this airport gets is during the week of the Kentucky Derby. It is the only major attraction for Kentucky that will bring in a large number of people at a specific time in the year. Blue Grass Airport is deserted most of the year with few people there on the average day.

15 Busy: Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (Phoenix)


Phoenix and the overall Southwest area views Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport as an important airport for flying. The top Arizona airport has one of the best reputations for airports in the overall country.

Time spent at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is less annoying than most places thanks to pristine customer service. It is described as one of the friendliest airports in the world. You also get the refreshing escape from the absurd humidity in Phoenix when getting there to fly to another destination.

14 Deserted: Garden City Regional Airport (Kansas)


The Garden City Regional Airport in Kansas is both one of the smallest airports in the country in size and among the most deserted ones. There is almost never a big crowd at this airport due to the small number of folks using it in general.

Instead of the national advisory to show up two hours before a flight, it is recommended to get to Garden City Regional Airport an hour before your flight. You are guaranteed to get to your boarding area within minutes of getting to the airport.

13 Busy: McCarran International Airport (Las Vegas)


Las Vegas is one of the busiest areas in the United States, so it is only fitting to have one of the busiest airports as well. McCarran International Airport attracts folks flying for vacation and using the airport as a layover for other flights.

It is certainly one of the more unique airports that stays true to the Las Vegas spirit. There are many slot machines for folks to gamble during their waiting time in the terminals. Even if it is packed, you can find time to have some Vegas fun.

12 Busy: San Francisco International Airport (San Francisco)


California being such a large and popular state makes its bigger airports some of the busiest in the United States. San Francisco International Airport certainly attracts a big crowd as most folks in the area use it to travel when coming for vacation or heading out.

The airport is respected by many for the environmentally friendly changes it has made throughout the years. San Francisco International Airport is also one of the best sources for connections to Europe and Asia for those taking big international trips.

11 Deserted: University of Illinois Willard Airport (Illinois)


College students lucked out with the University of Illinois Willard Airport being conveniently located close to the University of Illinois campus. Unlike Chicago, Champaign is not a very busy as only folks going to college or living in the area will fly to or from there.

There are usually no wait times at the TSA security check point as you will get to your terminal within minutes. Most flights are heading to Chicago where most people transfer to a larger flight heading elsewhere. The tiny airport is mostly just for those wanting to get to or leave the college campus.

10 Busy: Denver International Airport (Denver)


The Denver International Airport is extremely busy thanks to its large size. Not only does it provide the perfect location for those coming to Denver or leaving, but there are many connecting flights from airlines here.

Various western states like Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and others will have a flight traveling out of Denver. The Denver International Airport is the #1 overall airport when it comes to square miles, and there are enough flights to make good use of it. It is clearly a popular airport regardless of if one is going there or just passing by.

9 Deserted: Morgantown Municipal Airport (West Virginia)


Morgantown Municipal Airport is one of the least active airports you will find in the United States. The airport located in West Virginia almost never has a noteworthy crowd and is exceptionally quiet for such a place.

A shocking fact is that Morgantown Municipal Airport only has one total restaurant available to eat. They do provide complimentary coffee for anyone flying which does make up for the lack of food. You can’t expect a five-star dining experience when spending time at such a tiny airport.

8 Busy: JFK Airport (New York)


New York City is obviously a busy area throughout the entire year. It makes perfect sense that John F. Kennedy Airport is among the busiest airports in the United States. JFK Airport is by far the biggest airport in New York above LaGuardia Airport and the New Jersey related options.

Most international flights going to or coming from New York will be at JFK. It sees people from all the over the world converging when making their trip to visit one of the most popular cities in the country. JFK is huge in size with restaurants and fun activities near each terminal.

7 Busy: Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (Dallas)


The second airport from Texas to make the busiest portion of the list is Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. It is one of the larger airports in overall size with a shocking 17,000 acres. The airport has its own postal code thanks to the massive size.

Many international flights from Texas will connect at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. For a state as large as Texas, it is fitting that Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is among the biggest and busiest in the entire country. It has a good reputation for good customer service and solid food options.

6 Deserted: Trenton-Mercer Airport (New Jersey)


There are many busy airports in the tri-state area, but Trenton-Mercer Airport is not one of them. This airport is among the smallest you’ll find on the East Coast. It is the complete opposite in size and crowds of fellow New Jersey airport Newark Liberty.

Trenton-Mercer Airport is so small that you will only find one restaurant to eat at. Baggage claim is just a small trailer due to having significantly fewer passengers than the average airport. Folks that reside in Trenton lucked out with a deserted airport whenever they want to take a trip.

5 Busy: LAX (Los Angeles)


Los Angeles is one of the most desired destinations for folks hoping to travel within the United States. The very popular Los Angeles International Airport is often referred to by its airport code of LAX.

Folks visiting Los Angeles, Hollywood or other parts of Southern California will typically choose LAX as their airport of choice. This leads to over 80 million passengers using LAX per year. One bonus to LAX outside of the obvious is that it is the connecting flight for many people going on vacation to Hawaii.

4 Deserted: Arcata-Eureka Airport (California)


Arcata-Eureka Airport is one California airport that is the exact opposite of LAX. Eureka is a lesser known area of California known for beautiful surroundings for those that love nature. However, it is extremely tough to get to.

There are only a handful of departures per day with SkyWest being the only airline that flies from Arcata-Eureka Airport. If you miss your flight, there’s a good chance you will have to wait until the next day to fly out. Parking being free shows you just how inactive this airport is.

3 Busy: O'Hare Airport (Chicago)


Chicago is one of the most popular cities in the United States. There are other airports in Illinois, but O’Hare is by far the busiest airport in the area. Most connecting flights in the mid-west area can be found at O’Hare Airport.

Between folks traveling to Chicago or getting on connecting flights, it is consistently packed with travelers in terminals most days. Many terminals will see the seats all taken due to how many people are flying out. O’Hare was the busiest airport in the country for decades before falling to second place in the 90s.

2 Busy: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (Atlanta)


Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has been the busiest airport in the United States for a couple of decades now since passing O’Hare for the number one spot. It is surprisingly the busiest airport in the world today after recently hitting the 100 million+ passengers per year average.

The location has it relatively close to many major cities which leads to a lot of connecting flights. Anyone wanting to visit Atlanta will arrive at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, but the ease of getting to other places in the country makes it the busiest airport around.

1 Deserted: Dawson Community Airport (Montana)

via:Airport World

Dawson Community Airport is the smallest airport in the United States. Only two flights depart each day with Cape Air flying from Dawson to Billings within Montana. Flights are extremely cheap at just 50 bucks as anyone flying elsewhere connects at the larger Billings airport.

An astonishingly low number of 3,000 passengers fly with the Dawson Community Airport per year. If you want to visit a very obscure part of Montana for some reason, you’re in luck to visit the world’s most deserted airport. The dream of no lines can be achieved at Dawson Community Airport.

References: TripSavvy, SmarterTravel, CheatSheet

More in Travel