The Largest Airports in the United States

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The Denver International Airport is easily recognizable by its peaked roof. Editorial credit: Arina P Habich /

The United States has thousands of airports which vary in size, with the largest being some of the busiest globally. They serve both cargoes and passengers while employing thousands of people. As much as they are measured by area, the factor commonly used to rank them is traffic (the number of passengers served by a given airport). This article examines the largest American airports by size.

The Top 5 Largest American Airports by Size

1) Denver International Airport

The Denver Airport is the largest airfield in the United States which occupies an area of about 33,532.2 acres. Runway 16R/34L (16,000 feet long) is the longest public use runway in the country. Denver international airport served over 61,379,396 passengers in 2017 thus making them the fifth busiest American airport. It has the third biggest domestic network in the United States. The airport serves various non-stop flights to some destinations in Latin America, Asia, North America and Europe. It is the fourth largest America hub for United Airlines which serve over 375 planes daily to over 141 destinations.

2) Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

This airport is the primary airfield which serves Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex region in Texas. It is the central hub for American Airlines since its headquarters are near the airport. Dallas/Fort Worth international airport recorded the highest number of passengers in 2017 after serving 67,092,224 individuals. It is the eleventh busiest airport globally by traffic and the fourth by airplane movement. With over 900 flights daily, American Airlines is the second biggest aircraft hub in the United States and the world right behind the delta airlines. Occupying an area of about 17,206 acres, it is the second largest American airport. The owner cities select the airport's directors, and a non-voting member is picked by its neighboring cities (Coppell, Grapevine, Euless, and Irving).

3) Orlando International Airport

The Orlando airport is one of the major American airports which is about 6 miles to the southeastern side of Orlando. In 2017 it handled approximately 44,611,265 people thus making it the thirteenth busiest American airport. It is the hub for Silver Airways and focus city for Spirit, Southwest, Jetblue, and Frontier airlines. The largest airport’s carrier is Southwest airline. Occupying an area of about 13,302 acres, it is the third biggest airport in the United States. Previously, the airport was a Strategic Air Command named McCoy Airforce base which was shut down in 1975 after the Vietnam War ended.

4) Washington Dulles International Airport

It is an international airfield which is in Fairfax and Loudoun counties, Virginia. The airport was named after Foster Dulles the fifty-second American secretary of state who worked under President Eisenhower. Occupying an area of about 12,000 acres, most of the airport is in Dulles (Loudoun County), and a smaller part is in Chantilly (Fairfax County). It serves the entire metropolitan region of Washington D.C. it is one of the major airports in the Washington-Baltimore metropolitan region with over twenty-one million passengers annually. On a regular day, over 60,000 people pass through the airport to/from over 125 global destinations. President Eisenhower picked the site for the airport in 1958, and his advisor Pete Quesada selected the airport’s name.

5) George Bush Intercontinental

George Bush Intercontinental is an international airport which serves the Houston metropolitan. It is the fifth biggest in the United States. The airport has numerous scheduled flights to both international and domestic destinations. In 2016 it served about 41,622,594 people thus making it the forty-third busiest airport globally. It is the second biggest hub for United Airlines. The airport occupies about 10,999 acres of land, and it has five runways. During the 1970s and 1980s, it served as the focus city for numerous airlines including Pan American world, National, Eastern, Delta, and Braniff international airlines. The airport was opened in 1969.

How Busy Are the Largest Airports in the United States?

Even though Denver International is the biggest in the country, it is not the most active in the United States. Denver was ranked number six in 2017 since it served 30,714,011 people. Dallas/Fort Worth airport served more passengers than Denver airport and was the fourth busiest. Orlando International and George Bush Intercontinental airports were number thirteen and fourteen busiest airports. Washington Dulles international served about 11,407,107 passengers in 2017 and was ranked twenty-fifth in the United States.


The Largest Airports in the United States

RankAirportCityStateSize (Hectares)
1Denver International AirportDenverColorado13,571
2Dallas/Fort Worth International AirportDallas Texas6,963
3Orlando International AirportOrlandoFlorida5,383
4Washington Dulles International AirportWashington, D.C. N/A4,856
5George Bush Intercontinental AirportHoustonTexas4,451
6O'Hare International AirportChicagoIllinois2,913
7Salt Lake City International AirportSalt Lake CityUtah2,830
8John F. Kennedy International Airport New YorkNew York1,995
9San Francisco International AirportSan FranciscoCalifornia1,982
10Detroit Metropolitan AirportDetroitMichigan1,960

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