KNOWAtlanta’s guide to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Even though you may not be calling Atlanta your new home just yet, chances are one of your first introductions to the Peach City was through one of the expansive concourses of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Planning a move to Atlanta means finding a new neighborhood and home, a school for your children and discovering all the conveniences of the Atlanta area. By far, one of the best amenities in the metro area is Hartsfield-Jackson, a world-class airport connecting you to 151 domestic destinations and 80 international cities on non-stop flights.
Anytime you’re scheduled for a business trip, planning a family vacation or welcoming visitors from out of town, Hartsfield-Jackson is your link to these travel experiences. With two terminals, 171 domestic and 28 international gates (and more on the way), nearly 300 concession outlets, more than 30,000 parking spaces, numerous art installations and a rental car center, there’s a lot to explore. Our helpful guide outlines the inner-workings of Hartsfield-Jackson, helping you to navigate the world’s busiest airport.
Hartsfield-Jackson is organized into a terminal building—housing the North and South terminals—and six concourses (T, A, B, C, D and E, the international concourse). Travelers can access the concourses and gates via the Automated People Mover, a speedy, underground train that travels a 3.5-mile track.
Getting to Hartsfield-Jackson is easy: By car, you’ll follow either I-85 or I-285 and exit onto a network of roads that lead to the North or South terminals, as well as baggage claim and airport parking. Travelers can also access the airport via MARTA’s rail line. The final stop on MARTA’s Red Line is the airport. The airport MARTA station is connected to the South Terminal and offers a Delta curbside check-in station. Travelers using airlines based in the North Terminal have just a short walk to their check-in area.
An Engine for Economic Development
Hartsfield-Jackson plays a key role in Atlanta and Georgia’s business-friendly economic environment. The airport is a key reason so many Fortune 500 companies choose to do business in the metro area. “We offer accessibility,” says Arnaldo Ruiz, assistant general manager of Commercial Development for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. “We offer ease of access not only from a passenger prospective, but also from a cargo standpoint, too. Having the ability to market ourselves from the passenger and cargo perspectives makes us enticing to companies.”
Hartsfield-Jackson is Georgia’s largest employer, with approximately 58,000 employees. A recent study determined that ATL has a direct economic impact of approximately $32.5 billion for the metropolitan Atlanta economy.
One of the main bottlenecks in any airport are the security lines. Ease of movement and exceeding customer expectations are the airport’s top priorities. These two goals come into play with Hartsfield-Jackson’s newly expanded security checkpoint area. With four new lanes in the South Terminal and six new lanes in North Terminal, customers now have a total of 32 lanes at three checkpoints. Thanks to the new lanes, the average wait time is only 10 minutes, or 20 minutes if there’s a delay.
“At this airport, most of the traffic moves through our main security area—we have expanded our security processing by adding lanes in the South Terminal and expanded lanes in the North Terminal,” says Ruiz. “You should wait no longer than 20 minutes, and that reassures you that you’ll get to your gate on time.”
At the same time as the expansion, Hartsfield-Jackson, in conjunction with the Transportation Security Administration, launched the Diamond Self-Select program. The program allows travelers to choose security lanes that meet their travel expertise and needs. The self-select security lanes are assigned into one of three categories, using distinct snow-skiing icons to differentiate each lane.
Black Diamond lanes are for the frequent business traveler. Blue Square lanes are for the casual traveler with carryon luggage and knowledge of security requirements. Green Circle lanes are for travelers with young children in strollers or those with special needs. “Allowing passengers to select lanes based on their needs and experience creates a calmer and more efficient checkpoint, enhancing security as a result,” says Gerald Chapman, TSA Central Area director.
There’s no bigger frustration than full parking lots when you’re trying to catch a flight. Thankfully, Hartsfield-Jackson offers more than 30,000 parking spaces—7,500 in the North and South Terminal economy parking lots, 1,300 in the Silver Reserve lot and 8,100 in the Park-Ride lots. Here’s a breakdown of Hartsfield-Jackson’s various lots and their fee structures:
- Hourly Parking
Located directly in front of each terminal, hourly parking is ideal for anyone picking up or dropping off friends and family at the airport.
$2/hour (first 2 hrs.); $3/next four hours hrs.; $32/day (6-24 hours); $36/day (each additional day)
- Daily Parking
The most convenient option for overnight parking are the daily lots. Housed in a four-level garage, most of the spaces are covered, and the lots are across from each terminal.
$3 per hour; $16 per day.
The economy parking lots are your best overnight parking bargain. The lots are located adjacent to the daily parking decks and are a short walk to the terminals.
$3 per hour; $12 per day.
- Airport Park-Ride
For a $9-a-day charge, travelers can use the park-ride lot and receive shuttle service from their car to their terminal. Once travelers return from their travels, they simply wait to be picked up from the airport park-ride shuttle at the Ground Transportation Center to return to their vehicle. This lot has a fleet of 50 shuttle vans, so it’s never a long wait for a ride.
$3 per hour; $9 per day.
- Gold-Reserve Lots
One of Hartsfield-Jackson’s two members-only lots, the Gold-Reserve Lots are a true VIP experience. The lots are located on the ground level of the parking decks closest to the terminals. Travelers can enjoy a private entrance and exit (equipped with an intercom for customer service) and a covered, reserved space. Members pay an advanced payment of $225 to establish and set up their accounts and an annual minimum usage fee of $288. Parking is $3 for the first hour to a maximum of $30 per 24-hour period. For more information, call (404) 530-5010, ext. 137, for the South Gold Lot and ext. 139 for the North Gold Lot.
- Park-Ride Reserve
This members-only lot offers a reserved space next to the South Terminal Parkway. Shuttle vans pick up travelers at their cars and take them to their terminal. Travelers hop aboard a van at the Ground Transportation Center to return to their car. Memberships are limited; register at
In addition to these lots, Hartsfield-Jackson offers courtesy vans to offer assistance to travelers in need of a jump-start for their vehicle, air for their tires or assistance in finding their car. Economy lot parkers can take advantage of the courtesy shuttle service (from 7 a.m. to midnight) and the airport has security officers located through the lots to provide additional assistance. Tune in to 830 AM for up-to-the minute parking updates.
Rental Car Center
Before you move to Atlanta, it’s likely you’re planning a few visits to scope out potential neighborhoods and homes. The airport’s new Rental Car Center is just what you need to tour your new city. With more than two million travelers using rental cars at Hartsfield-Jackson every year, the airport has achieved a streamlined, convenient process with the new off-campus center. To access the Rental Car Center, travelers follow the signs to the center from baggage claim. The signs lead travelers outside of the terminal to the covered walkway of the ATL SkyTrain station. Once aboard the ATL SkyTrain, it’s a scenic five-minute ride to the rental car center.
International Terminal Expansion
If you’re a frequent international traveler that has lamented the crowded terminals in Atlanta, you can relax. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has been building the Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal since summer 2008. It is anticipated to complete construction by spring 2012 and is dedicated to international travelers. No need to worry about overcrowding; the terminal will be 1.2 million-square-feet and will have a 12-gate concourse which will be known as Concourse F. Concourse F will join Concourse E (the existing international concourse) by an extension of the Plane Train, producing a 40-gate international travel gateway. Tired of having to do baggage re-checks? The new terminal will remove the baggage re-check process for Atlanta-bound international travelers.
The terminal will also provide relief for current facilities by eliminating international passengers from Concourse E and security checkpoints. It will also result in the lightening of passenger loads on the Automated People Mover trains as well as traffic flow within the Transportation mall. The new terminal will have eight security checkpoint lanes for international departing passengers and five re-check lanes for domestic connecting passengers. Passengers will also enjoy a quicker boarding process; the terminal will feature an in-line baggage screening system. Looking for easy access to the airport? The terminal will be located right off Interstate 75 on the east side of the airport, and there will be 1,100 new parking spaces near the entrance.
Overall, the new terminal will generate thousands of jobs for people and cause a lasting positive effect on local businesses. Presently, the expected cost of this project totals $1.4 billion.
Southwest: A New Player
Southwest Airlines’ highly publicized buyout of AirTran Airways, which closed May 2, will bring the largest airline by domestic passenger volume to Atlanta. For the time being, AirTran, the second largest airline at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, will operate as a separate unit of Southwest and will continue to book flights under its name and through the AirTran website.
Atlanta is the largest domestic market that Southwest hasn’t served, but as the carriers complete their integration, it will have a large presence in Atlanta. Southwest’s acquisition of a hub at the nation’s busiest airport will mean more competition and lower fares for Atlanta travelers. The carriers’ merger will also bring Southwest’s policies on baggage fees and seating to the forefront. Unlike many other leading airlines, Southwest doesn’t charge for checked baggage—up to two bags can be checked for free. Southwest also doesn’t assign seating. Instead, the airline assigns passengers to different boarding groups and positions based on time of check-in.
Concessions & Retail
Airport stores and restaurants have long been a part of the air travel experience. At Hartsfield-Jackson a retail renaissance is bringing in high-end retailers and businesses that offer better shopping choices and a true taste of Atlanta to the terminals and concourses. In addition, the airport recently introduced the Minute Suites program, a first-of-its-kind service giving travelers a private space to relax, do business or catch a nap. The Minute Suites are five private suites outfitted with a high-definition television, Internet access, daybed sofa, fresh pillows and a sound-masking system to neutralize noise. All of these services add up to a more pleasurable experience.
“Our concessions program is a key element in trying to provide customers with a fresh look—focusing on variety and quality—and understanding the trends of what people actually need and what they may want,” says Ruiz. “Two new concepts that are unique to Hartsfield-Jackson are the Blackberry store and the Minute Suites. We brought in Brooks Brothers, Lacoste, Brighton and other high-quality retail concepts so customers feel like they can pass the time and shop for any personal needs they would otherwise buy at home.”
For a taste of local fare, try Atlanta Bread Company in the Atrium and on Concourse C, Buckhead Books/Café Intermezzo on Concourse B, Paschal’s Southern Kitchen in the Atrium and on Concourse A and Savannah’s Candy Kitchen on Concourse B. The airports hometown retailers include All ATL on Concourse C, Atlanta magazine’s Home in the Atrium, the Georgia Aquarium’s Beyond the Reef in the Atruim and Zoo Atlanta’s Panda Veranda on Concourse B.
Hartsfield-Jackson is an airport that prides itself on providing travelers with a long list of specialty services that add that something extra to your family vacation or business trip.
Here’s a brief rundown of some of our favorite services and programs:
Hartsfield-Jackson is a WiFi hot spot. The airport offers a neutral host system, which allows travelers to access wireless Internet from various providers from virtually any location on its campus. The list of carriers includes: AccessAnyplace, Advanced Wireless Group, Boingo, Opti-Free and T-Mobile.
Executive Meeting Space
The Executive Conference Center caters to the business traveler with 23 meeting rooms, including boardrooms, computer workstations, classrooms and a VIP suite. The Executive Conference Center, located on the third floor of the Atrium, offers tele-conferencing, audio/video services and catering.
Serving 250,000 customers daily, Hartsfield-Jackson is responsible for 2,000 tons of waste a month. The airport’s recycling initiative, GreenSortATL, can improve upon this statistic—64 percent of the airport’s waste is recyclable. GreenSortATL collects all the waste in any airport trash receptacle and transports it (via a hybrid truck) to an off-site recycling facility, where it is sorted and recycled. By the end of 2010, the airport expects it will reduce its waste by 70 percent, which translates to preventing 80,640 pounds of air pollution and saving 5.5 million kilowatt hours a month. Hartsfield-Jackson has implemented other sustainability measures, including new fixtures and plumbing in terminal restrooms (saving nearly 7 million gallons of water a month), using water-conserving chiller plants, a water conservation and recovery system and energy conservation efforts.
Art can bring elegance to any airport, along with a sense of calmness to harried travelers. Hartsfield-Jackson features art installations throughout each terminal, the concourses, the Transportation Mall and often in some unexpected places, such as above an unsuspecting baggage carousel. On your next visit to the airport, take the time to appreciate the following galleries and art displays: the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memoriam, the High Museum of Art and the Center for Puppetry Arts displays on Concourse E; the Tellus: Northwest Georgia Science Museum exhibit on Concourse T; a photography exhibit by Georgia artist Cicero Simmons on Concourse D; and the rotating sculpture park in the Ground Transportation area.
The airport’s off-leash dog park is a must-stop for passengers traveling with pets. The park is 1,000-square feet—the perfect size for dogs to stretch their legs and use the restroom before or after their flight. Due to its size, only two dogs are allowed in the park at a time and pet waste bags are available for easy clean-up. You can find the park in the Ground Transportation Center.