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Is Anchorage, Alaska, The World’s Busiest Airport?

By Naomi K. Cissy Shapiro
Last updated: Jan 19, 2021

Sooner or later, you — or someone you know — is going to visit Alaska for a vacation adventure. 

In most cases, your destination (or exit point) will be Anchorage.

Where is Anchorage Located? 

Anchorage is cradled by the Chugach Mountains on one side and embraced by The Cook Inlet on the other. And she is home to nearly 292,000 people (40% of Alaska’s population).

Anchorage is easily accessible. Moreover, she offers plenty for anyone to do for weeks and weeks without ever leaving town.

But Anchorage also serves as a gateway to everything else you can do in Alaska…

The World’s Busiest Airport?

In normal times… Anchorage (ANC) is usually the fifth busiest cargo airport in the world. Also the second busiest cargo airport in the United States. (Memphis, Tennessee, home of FedEx, is first busiest cargo airport). 

A May, 2020 article in Forbes (You Won’t Believe Where The World’s Busiest Airport Is Right Now) noted: Due to the coronavirus pandemic, “the world’s busiest airport (at the moment) is no longer in Atlanta or New York City or London… or LAX, Dubai, or Hong Kong…

“Rather,” it continued, “the newest bustling airport hub is in… Anchorage, Alaska.”

Actually, Anchorage (ANC) achieved the status of number one because of cargo operations.

But, apart from cargo operations, let’s look at how most travelers get to Anchorage under “normal” circumstances: 

More Facts About The Airport: 

Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) serves over 5 million passengers annually on approximately 45 domestic and international air carriers.

The airport is also the world’s largest and busiest floatplane base!

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Sample Flight times to or from Anchorage:

Seattle: 3 hours.

Salt Lake City: 5 hours.

San Francisco: 5 hours.

Los Angeles: 5 hours.

Chicago: 5.5 hours.

New York City: 8 hours

Seoul: 8.5 hours.

Zurich: 9.5 hours.

Getting to the airport by land:

You can drive to Anchorage from anywhere on the continent, any time of the year. 

The Alaska Highway, linking Alaska with Canada and the contiguous United States, is fully paved and offers services all year long.

Sample Distances to Anchorage By Land:

Seattle: 2,435 road miles.

Los Angeles: 3,712 road miles.

New York City: 4,649 road miles.

Miami: 5,434 road miles.

By Sea:

Several cruise lines offer excursions May through September along the famous inside passage, docking in Anchorage or nearby Seward.

The Alaska Marine Highway, the State’s ferry system, runs year-round, calling on Whittier, Seward and Homer, which are also connected to Anchorage by road and rail.

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Tags: Airport Alaska Alaska Highway Alaska Marine Highway Anchorage Ted Stevens

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