Ask anyone who doesn’t live in Atlanta what they know about Atlanta and chances are pretty good that they’ll say they know Atlanta has a really busy airport. They probably won’t put it quite that gently, but who are we to presume. According to Airline Weekly, Atlanta took the title of “World’s Busiest” from Chicago in 1998 and never relinquished it, with the exception of the Covid year 2020, when the title went to the Guangzhou’s Baiyun International Airport, serving Guangzhou, the capital of Southern China’s Guangdong province.

The title of “World’s Busiest” airport is a dubious title at best; one that many might offer is not the compliment those promoting Atlanta seemed to think it was. I say “seemed” because, if you’ve paid attention to Atlanta’s hype in recent years, you might have noticed that Atlanta is touting its airport as “the world’s most traveled airport.” Makes you feel much better about having to catch that 6:00AM Monday morning flight, doesn’t it?

There are many reasons for the popularity of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. A move in the 1980s to a hub and spoke system concentrated air traffic through the country’s major metropolitan areas. The fact that our region happens to be a main base for worldwide carrier Delta Airlines is another reason. Atlanta, as well as being a major distribution center, is also within a 2-hour flight of 80% of the country. Of course, there is also the fact that unlike many major metro regions in the U.S. Atlanta only has one major passenger/freight airport.

Be that as it may, to its credit, Atlanta seems to continually be trying to improve its airport. The list of firsts for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International is a lengthy one indeed and we chose to focus on two of those firsts in this week’s Stories of Atlanta.

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Lance Russell is an Atlanta-based filmmaker and media communicator who, for over three decades, has been entrusted by clients to tell their stories. A seasoned producer with an innate ability to cut to...

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