Atlanta Airport Is Huge For Delta – But Where Do Passengers Actually Fly?

Think Atlanta, think Delta. Last year, some 22.1 million passengers transited the airport with the airline. Over eight in ten passengers were domestic, with Norfolk to San Diego the number-one origin-and-destination (O&D). Florida was all-important, featuring 21 times in the top-25 O&Ds, helped by Delta having up to 153 daily departures to 16 Sunshine State airports.

Atlanta Airport Is Huge For Delta – But Where Do Passengers Actually Fly?
22.10 million of Delta’s Atlanta passengers connected over the airport. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Despite the unprecedented challenge of 2020, Delta saw 33.28 million people fly to and from Atlanta, according to data from the airport. This meant that the carrier – and its regional affiliates – had over three-quarters (78%) of all of the airport’s passengers.

As you would expect, transit passengers were significant. Examining booking data obtained from OAG Traffic Analyzer suggests that approximately 22.10 million – or about three-quarters – of Delta’s passengers transited Atlanta. While this was only about 37% of what it had in 2019, where did they go?

Atlanta Airport Is Huge For Delta – But Where Do Passengers Actually Fly?
Here are Delta’s top-25 transit routes over Atlanta. Image: GCMap

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Delta’s top-25 transit routes via Atlanta

With about 39,000 round-trip passengers, the navy-orientated route from Norfolk, Virginia, to San Diego was Delta’s number-one transit O&D last year. The top-25, shown below, had a minimum of approximately 18,000 connecting passengers.

  1. Norfolk over Atlanta to San Diego
  2. Jacksonville-Norfolk
  3. Memphis-Orlando
  4. Jacksonville-Minneapolis
  5. Fort Lauderdale-Salt Lake City
  6. Los Angeles-Orlando
  7. Jacksonville-Los Angeles
  8. Jacksonville-Seattle
  9. Orlando-Salt Lake City
  10. Detroit-West Palm Beach
  11. Detroit-Jacksonville
  12. Norfolk-Seattle
  13. Los Angeles-Tampa
  14. Indianapolis-Orlando
  15. Los Angeles-Raleigh Durham
  16. Norfolk-Pensacola
  17. Detroit-Sarasota
  18. Jacksonville-Salt Lake City
  19. Jacksonville-St Louis
  20. Jacksonville-Los Angeles
  21. Miami-Salt Lake City
  22. Los Angeles-Norfolk
  23. Birmingham-Tampa
  24. Fort Lauderdale-Minneapolis
  25. Minneapolis-West Palm Beach
Atlanta Airport Is Huge For Delta – But Where Do Passengers Actually Fly?
While Florida was by far the main state for transit passengers, North Carolina, Texas, California, Tennessee, New York, South Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and Alabama complete the top-10 in that order. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Norfolk to San Diego

Across all carriers and hubs, Norfolk-San Diego saw estimated round-trip traffic of about 63,000, down from about 139,000 in 2019. Atlanta was the main connecting airport, followed by Charlotte, O’Hare, Dallas, and Dulles.

Traveling via Atlanta is just 78 miles farther than a non-stop would be. And with Delta having large numbers of flights to Norfolk and San Diego, and therefore multiple departure times, it isn’t much of a surprise that Atlanta was the main feeder airport. Norfolk will see seven point-to-point routes with Breeze Airways from June.

Atlanta Airport Is Huge For Delta – But Where Do Passengers Actually Fly?
Norfolk-San Diego was the thickest O&D, but Jacksonville appeared eight times in the leading 25. Jacksonville was Atlanta’s second-largest source of transit passengers, behind Orlando but ahead of Tampa. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

82% of transit passengers were domestic

Over eight in ten transit passengers were domestic, not helped by border closures and everything surrounding that. Still, some 4.08 million passengers were international, with the main regional markets led by the Caribbean via Atlanta across the US.

Indeed, this market had traffic of more than 750,000, especially to/from Jamaica, Dominican Republic, and the Virgin Islands. Detroit to Punta Cana and Montego, Boston to Montego Bay, Montego Bay to Omaha, and Detroit-Nassau were the top five O&Ds.

Atlanta Airport Is Huge For Delta – But Where Do Passengers Actually Fly?
Delta served 16 Florida airports non-stop from Atlanta last year, with up to 153 departures each day. Photo: Getty Images

Florida was the leading state

The Sunshine State is always crucially important for Delta from Atlanta and last year was no exception. Indeed, Florida was involved in 21 of Delta’s top-25 transit markets, and approximately 4.1 million of the airline’s 22.10 million transit passengers traveled to/from the state. This was equivalent to nearly one in every five passengers.

Did you travel through Atlanta last year, or will you be this year? Let us know in the comments.