Getting Out of Atlanta Airport, the World's Busiest Airport
Atlanta Airport is the busiest airport in the world and stretches over 7.3 square miles, so it's no surprise that it's difficult to navigate. This guide is here to help confused passengers get out of Atlanta Airport. When ready to go home, check out this article on getting to Atlanta Airport with minimal hassle.
Getting Around the Airport with the Plane Train
Although Atlanta Airport is difficult to navigate, there is one feature that makes it easier to get around the terminals: the Plane Train. The Plane Train is an automated people mover that links the domestic terminal with the international terminal, including all concourses (gates) in between.
Looking at the picture above, Atlanta Airport has a series of 'ribs' (its terminals) which are all connected by the center 'spine' (the Plane Train). It operates for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and trains depart from each station every 2 minutes. The Plane Train and all of its stations are located on Level 0, so passengers must go down an escalator or lift to board the train and then go back up to the level of their terminal. It's free to use.
Catching the train is an easy and direct way to get out of Atlanta Airport. There are two MARTA train lines that connect to Atlanta Airport - the Red Line and the Gold Line. Both lines head north from the airport, with the furthermost stations being North Springs Transit Station (Red Line) and Doraville (Gold Line).
The MARTA station is located in the Domestic Terminal on Level 2. To get to the MARTA station from the domestic terminal, exit the North or South baggage claim areas and walk towards the West side of the airport (towards the exit). The MARTA station entrance is just before the doors that lead to the outside ground transportation area. To get to the MARTA station from the international terminal, take the Plane Train to the domestic terminal, take an escalator to Level 2, and follow the directions above.
MARTA train tickets are only able to be paid with a Breeze Card, which allows passengers to use the range of transportation services offered by MARTA. A Breeze Card vending machine is located next to the MARTA domestic station doors, and one-way tickets are $2.
Trains on the Red Line operate from 4:55 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on weekdays, and from 5:50 a.m. to 8:50 p.m. on the weekend. Trains on the Gold Line operate from 4:45 a.m. to 1:18 a.m. on weekdays and from 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. on weekends. The trains leave the station every 10 minutes during peak daytime hours and up to half an hour during off-peak times.
Catching a taxi into Atlanta from the airport is relatively straightforward. Atlanta Airport doesn't recommend a particular taxi service, so passengers will have to choose the taxi company when catching a taxi. Taxis don't need to be booked in advance.
The taxi bay at Atlanta Airport is located directly across from the local shuttle bus departures bay. There are set fares between Atlanta Airport and the Central Business District (CBD) in Atlanta: $30 to Downtown, $40 to Buckhead and $32 to Midtown. Fares outside the CBD in Atlanta are: $2.50 for the first 1/8 mile, $0.2 for every additional 1/8 mile, and $21 per hour of waiting time.
To get to the taxi bay (Level 2) from a domestic flight, go through the North or South baggage claim, past the immigration desks and into the arrivals lobby. Once there, head past the MARTA station through the W1 or W2 doors. The taxi bay is located in between the W1 and W2 doors. Passengers coming from the international terminal should catch the Plane Train to the domestic terminal, take an escalator to Level 2, and walk through the atrium until through the exit doors. Here's the Atlanta Airport map, which can be zoomed to a close up.
Shared Shuttle Bus
While Atlanta Airport doesn't have its own shuttle bus, its website suggests 11 authorized shuttle bus companies that operate between the airport and Downtown, Midtown and Buckhead. There are also a number of local shuttle bus companies that transport passengers to cities in the following counties: Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett. The shuttle buses leave every 15 minutes from the ground transportation area, at the western exit of the domestic terminal.
To get to the ground transportation area (Level 2) from a domestic flight, go through the North or South baggage claim, past the immigration desks and into the arrivals lobby. Once there, head past the MARTA station through the W1 or W2 doors. The taxi bay is located on the other side of these doors. Cross the road with the pedestrian crossing and the local shared ride shuttle will be situated in the middle of the next bay. Have a look at Atlanta Airport's map for a more detailed map.
The maximum fares for catching the local shuttle buses are as follows: Downtown $16.50, Midtown $18.50, Buckhead $30. The fares for local shuttle buses going outside these areas differ in price. See Atlanta Airport's full list of shuttle services for each county here and contact them for more information about fares.
As none of these shuttle bus services are affiliated with the airport, it is best to book a trip in advance via telephone or their websites (see Atlanta Airport's list of companies available). The shuttle company will confirm its location of departure in the airport, or whether the company offers a meet-and-greet service. Many of these companies also offer other vehicles for hire, but this will be explained later in the post.
Regional shuttle buses are also available, providing service to Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. These shuttles leave every 30 minutes to 1 hour, and depart from the ground transport area to the left of the local shuttle departures area (if facing away from the airport). A list of these shuttles and their contact details is also available on the Atlanta Airport website. As with the local shuttles, it is best to book these services in advance.
Hotel Shuttle Bus
Many hotels in Atlanta and the surrounding areas offer shuttle services from Atlanta Airport to the hotel. Each hotel has its own procedure for airport shuttles, so it's best to contact the hotel and ask about its services. See the Hotel Shuttles section of the Atlanta Airport website for more information. All hotel shuttles will leave from the same area as local and regional shuttle buses. See above section for directions to this area.
Greyhound is a long-distance bus travel company that runs services from Atlanta Airport. Its opening hours are Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Atlanta Airport Greyhound office and departures area is located on the Ground Floor of the North Terminal.
To get there, once exiting the baggage claim area in the domestic terminal, take the escalator (going down) closest to the North baggage claim area and the Greyhound office will be there. If not sure, ask someone. Tickets must be booked in advance through the Greyhound website.
Atlanta Airport has 13 rental car companies in its Rental Car Center (RCC), which operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Passengers wanting to rent a car should make their way to the RCC via the SkyTrain.
The SkyTrain is an automatic people mover, and operates 24 hours a day, running every three minutes during peak daytime hours, and every 10 minutes during other hours. It takes about 5 minutes to get from the domestic terminal to the RCC on the SkyTrain.
To get to the RCC from the domestic terminal, passengers should exit through the right exit door (when facing towards the doors) and continue walking over the pedestrian crossing. On the left is the taxi bay and local shuttle bus stop. Straight ahead there is an escalator that goes up to Level 3. Take the escalator and continue walking until the SkyTrain station appears. Board the SkyTrain in the direction of the RCC.
If coming from other gates or the international terminal, take the Plane Train to the domestic terminal, then follow the steps above. Directions for using the Plane Train are at the beginning of the article.
Atlanta Airport recommends over 300 limousine services to its passengers, many of which have options for other executive vehicles as well. The airport website suggests that passengers should book the limousine service in advance. Information about the prices, location of pickup and details will be explained by the limousine company, as every company has its own policies. The limousines will either pick up their passengers from the taxi bay (see above for directions there) or will meet them in the arrivals section of the airport.
Ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft are available to use at Atlanta Airport. The pickup location for ride-sharing passengers was recently changed to outside the North Terminal on Ground Level (Domestic Terminal), but if not sure about where to go, ask a member of the airport staff.
To use Uber or Lyft on Apple or Android phones, download it from the App Store or Google Play Store and open the app. Users will be required to enter their payment details and their pickup location (the North Terminal), and choose the kind of vehicle they would prefer.
All three apps offer a number of different services (for example, Uber's carpooling UberPool service lets passengers share the ride with others to save money, while UberX offers private sedans). Once these details have been selected, users are able to track their driver's location on the app, until the driver arrives.
Get Picked Up
Atlanta Airport has 30,000 car parking spaces and four parking categories: Hourly, Daily, Economy and Park Ride. The parking costs are as follows: domestic hourly (short term) parking, which is located closest to the domestic terminal and is best for picking up passengers, starts at $3 for the 1st and 2nd hours, $4 for the 3rd to 6th hour, and $36 per day after 6 hours and $36 for each additional day. International hourly parking costs the same.
Daily (overnight) parking is on Level 4 and costs $3 per hour, with a maximum limit of $19 per day. Economy parking costs $3 per day and has a maximum limit of $14 per day. Park-Ride Lots A and C are close to the North and South terminals and cost $3 per hour, with a maximum daily limit of $10.
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