what are some secrets for navigating atlanta airport

So many people are looking for Atlanta airport tips because it really is an immense airport! Most days, the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the busiest airport in the world. While not the largest in size, the sheer number of passengers it handles on a daily basis makes it the busiest. This is mainly because it’s the hub for Delta Airlines. But the location is also key for both domestic and international travel.

We are frequently at the Atlanta airport for the simple reason that Delta is one of our preferred airlines. Flights to the Caribbean, Europe, and Belize are easy and there are always options. BUT, it is busy, crowded and it always seems to be under construction. When you travel like we do, especially in the age of Covid-19, there are secrets we have uncovered. What to know our Atlanta airport tips to make your next trip so much easier? Read on! 

what are some tips for navigating atlanta airport

While it is a big airport, it needs to be because about 90 million passengers pass through each year. For the most part, I think the workers here do a great job. It is easy to get around and we have no issues making tight connections. When we fly to Belize City, we have 43 minutes to connect. We literally get off our flight (though traveling in First Class helps) and walk or take a train to the next terminal and walk right on to our next flight. Easy peasy. 

Atlanta Airport Tips To Make Your Life Easier

 1. Get Club Access

As usual, we always suggest that you have club access through Delta or your American Express Platinum Card. The Clubs are limited to Delta, of which there are nine, United, American, and The Club at ATL. We prefer the Delta Sky Clubs but will use The Club at ALT sometimes, too. All of the Delta Sky Lounges are nice, but here are some tricks.

what are some secrets for getting around atlanta international airport

  1. If you are expecting a delayed or canceled flight or think you may be stuck overnight because they are shutting down the city (which happens at the drop of a snowflake), get yourself to the Delta Club in Concourse B. When the airport shuts down, the city does, too, so you will not be able to get to a hotel. Run, do not walk to this flagship lounge. It is the one they staff for 24 hours. But the line will get long and they will stop letting people in.
  2. Each of the lounges serves food that is a little different. The Club in Concourse F is our favorite. It is big and broken into smaller areas which are less overwhelming than the Club in Concourse B. What I love most is the outside area and bar. You can sit out there just about year round. If you are getting off a long haul, The Club at ATL is my favorite for a shower and honestly, the pastries are better there.

2. Consider booking one of the Minute Suites.

This “traveler’s retreat” is a savior if you can get a room located in Concourse B. There is a second one in Concourse T that is temporarily closed currently. You should always look to pre-book online. Only once in all my delays was I able to book a few hours before in a suite. It was well worth it. Given that there are no airport hotels, having a private room for a few hours is wonderful. They have a daybed sofa, pillows, blankets, and a TV. They are great for layovers or if your flight gets canceled. If that happens though you will NEED to read my tips for surviving delayed/cancelled flights.

3. Use the Plane Train (except if you have time to walk).

The plane train people mover connects you to all the concourses and is typically the fastest, most convenient way to get from Point A to Point B. However, when we have time, we love to walk. The moving sidewalks, beautiful art and interesting history exhibits are delightful things to enjoy while moving between flights. Our favorite is the virtual walk through a forest called Flight Paths complete with sounds. It is located between Concourses A and B and is worth a visit even if you are not flying out of that area. Just don’t get too distracted that you miss your flight!

what are some things to see like art when navigating atlanta airport

Rainforest walking wonderland called Flight Paths. Photo credit Atlanta International Airport.

4. Take advantage of the surprising amount of amenities.

Whenever anyone asks me for Atlanta airport tips, I always tell them to take advantage of the vast amount of amenities offered. The airport has three interfaith chapels and a yoga room for passengers to use. There are typically interfaith services throughout the week in the chapel and the yoga room is open to all. Both are great retreats from the hustle and bustle of the airport and allow you to recenter yourself.

There are also a few XPresSpas in the Atlanta airport. These are great for a quick chair massage, manicure, and even a facial. Whether you plan on stopping in because you have time or your flight was delayed and now have extra time – do it! We have yet to have anything but a fabulous experience.

5. Enjoy the art.

The Hartsfield-Jackson airport has an elaborate collection of art. Seriously. You’d think you were in an art museum. With both permanent and rotating exhibits, it is a feast for the eyes. We love them all, but the massive hanging sculptures in the International Terminal and in Concourse F should not be missed.

what are secrets to navigating atlanta airport

Hanging art at Atlanta Airport International Terminal.

The Atlanta Airport has several permanent exhibits and many rotating exhibits, so there is always something great to see. The Delta Sky Clubs also have rotating art displays. We have even contacted two artists from pieces we found in Delta Sky Clubs.

Learn more about the awesome Atlanta International Airport Artwork.

6. Plan ahead if you want a hotel nearby.

While there are no airport hotels, there are three hotels that you can reach via the Sky Tram. There’s the Marriott Atlanta Gateway, the Springhill Suites, and the Renaissance Atlanta Airport Gateway. There are also several hotels that offer a complimentary shuttle service.

7. Be prepared to wait for Baggage Claim.

Baggage claim is one of the reasons we do not like the Atlanta Airport. Why does baggage claim upset us you ask? Well, no matter what Concourse you land at, you have to trek all the way to the last stop on the plane train to pick up your luggage. UGH!

Our secret...Get in the first car of the plane train to be in front of the crowd. Baggage claim is so far away from Concourse A that our bags are actually waiting for us when we arrive.

7. Be prepared for the off-site car rental trek.

If Atlanta is your final destination you will most likely at some point need the Sky Tram. Atlanta has one of our least favorite things, off-property rental car pick up. It is a huge facility off-site that you have to board the Sky Tram to get to (unless you want to spend the money to take an Uber).

Our secret…We only use priority pick up with our rental car company, so we do not have to wait in lines. If you don’t belong to any car rental company rewards program, pick the one(s) you use a lot and join.

Here are a few more drawbacks we have found at Hartsfield-Jackson:

  • It seems they are always under major construction, which is what you get for being so big I guess and having to maintain your infrastructure.
  • Some areas and gates are very dark and do not have natural light.
  • Finally, the people. There are just SO many people!

Do you have Atlanta airport tips you can share?