I've seen a lot of lists of the most planes that go through airports, and passenger numbers, but that's presumably arrive/depart numbers.

What I'm after is what are the airports where the most passengers transit through the airport - ie fly in, don't leave the airport, and take off again, possibly from a different terminal.

As an example, Atlanta is I gather a big transit airport, as is Singapore or Dubai. However, Queenstown, New Zealand for example, people fly in and out of but do not normally transit, so presumably the numbers would be low.

A top 5/10/20 list would be ideal, or else a link to a database that records this information.

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    Some of the "most [adjective]" thingies I get (I've even asked one), but how is this travel-related? Do you want to transit the most-transited airport just 'cause? Commented May 7, 2019 at 17:16
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    @AzorAhai It might be the inverse, the OP might want to avoid the most-transited airports because, you know, traffic and queues. Commented May 7, 2019 at 20:40
  • @AzorAhai fair, it just occured to me the other day that some airports must almost never have transit passengers. Despite my large amount of travel, this was a new thought for me, and it lead to this question (and a related personal project I'm now working on)
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented May 7, 2019 at 22:23

1 Answer 1


Some airports report themselves how many transfer passengers they have (or at least what's the % of all passengers). E.g. Schiphol (AMS) had 71.053 million passengers in 2018, of which 36.6% were transfers, for a total of 26 million transited passengers. Heathrow claims a figure of 24 million transited passengers, 30% of its total.

According to the paper How to assess the percentage of transfer passengers at airports?, Atlanta had 65%-69% transfer passengers (in 2011), which is very high compared to other airports. Since it's already the largest passenger airport in the world with a total of 107 million passengers per year, it's probably safe to say it's also the world's top transited airport. (The few airports with a higher transfer percentage (DOH, AUH) have an overall number of passengers which is 3-4 times smaller.)

  • That paper does show DOH and AUH with slightly higher transit rates (2013) than ATL.
    – J...
    Commented May 7, 2019 at 14:02
  • Yes; they do have only one third resp. one quarter of the number of passengers of ATL.
    – Glorfindel
    Commented May 7, 2019 at 14:05
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    Indeed - certainly ATL transits more passengers overall than anywhere else; I think that's a reasonable conclusion, and OP did ask for overall largest numbers. There may be some smaller edge cases out there where the total transit percentage is higher, albeit with much smaller total numbers.
    – J...
    Commented May 7, 2019 at 14:11
  • Right off the bat, DOH and AUH are home-bases for airlines that fly (almost entirely) 777's and A380s. There aren't that many of those airplanes, and those that exist do very few cycles per day. By contrast there are many thousands of A320s and 737s, which do many cycles per day (Southwest averages 6) - that is the bread and butter of Atlanta. Just count the gates at each airport, and note that 737/320 have much shorter at-gate times to boot. Commented May 7, 2019 at 16:02
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    @Kevin Well, sure, but I shouldn't have to click through to understand the post. Commented May 7, 2019 at 18:36

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