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Q:

What's the Best Way to Navigate the Atlanta Airport?

OutsideOnline airport travel Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

"By the time I arrived in Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport I was feeling the effects of Murphy's Law," said the photographer, William Fisher.     Photo: William Fisher/Flickr

A:Getting around the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is no easy task. Not only is the airport humongous, it's also crowded—very crowded. Last year, the airport saw 94 million passengers depart and arrive, making it the busiest airport in the world. That's a whole lot of harried travelers fighting to make their flights.

But you don't have to be one of those flustered flyers: Here are just a few tips that will enable you to maneuver Atlanta like a pro.

Park It

When it comes to parking lots and garages, you have 12 options, which on one hand is nice because you'll probably get a spot. But on the other hand, this multitude of choices can be difficult. Should you pull into "North Daily" or "West Economy?" Or for that matter, should you use "International Hourly" or "International Park-Ride?"

If you're running low on time, parking at the airport can be particularly stressful. But we'll make it easy: All you have to remember is the hyphenated word "Park-Ride." When you near the airport, you'll want to follow signs leading to the "Park-Ride" lots. You'll drive into the open lot, and airport attendants will literally flag you into an open spot. Within a few minutes, you'll be whisked away in an airport shuttle to the terminal. Keep in mind that there is an International Park-Ride, which costs $12 a day. And there are three domestic park-ride lots, which each charge $9 a day.

Use Trak-a-Line

TSA line at Hartsfield-Jackson   Photo: Josh Hallett/Flickr

After parking and making it through check-in, you have to face TSA Security. And let's be honest: Although necessary, security lines can be a real nightmare, especially if you're running short on time. After all it takes precious time to strip off your shoes, whip off your metal accessories, unpack your laptop and all your liquids (in their 3.4-ounce bottles), and place them in bins on the conveyor belt. And if there is a long line, TSA Security could be the difference between making and missing your flight. Atlanta's Trak-a-Line at least tells you whether a very long (or a surprisingly short) queue awaits you. All you need is an email address and your approximate flight time, and Trak-a-Line will send you email updates on the wait times at security.

Learn the Layout & Use the APM

Before you even head to the airport, you should check out a map. The airport is comprised of two terminals—domestic and international—separated by seven concourses. And if, again, you're worried about making your flight, you can hop on the Automated People Mover (or APM). This tram carries passengers among the airport's terminals and concourses quickly and efficiently. The airport actually claims that an APM will allow you to reach the farthest concourse within five minutes. That way, you'll have time to pick up a coffee and a mag before walking coolly to your gate with time to spare.  

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