If you're travelling over the holiday season, these are the airports you might want to avoid.

Between the December 21 and 25, roughly 70 million people will take to the skies around the world, with many returning home to visit loved ones for Christmas.

As you can imagine, this mass transit is likely to cause chaos at airports globally – and some important international hubs will be busier than others.

After gathering the details of 466,897 scheduled flights from every airport around the world, the website buyagift.co.uk has revealed which airports will see the most travellers passing through and which days will be the busiest.


The USA was revealed to be the busiest country in the world for Christmas air travel, with 118,0171 scheduled departures and 118,844 arrivals – with New York topping the list of busiest global cities for festive flights.

China comes in second with 53,704 departures and 52,037 arrivals, while India follows with 16,765 departures and 16,339 arrivals.

However, the busiest airport in the world over Christmas isn't even in the top 10 when it comes to countries – but it is an important transit hub for many Kiwis travelling from New Zealand to Europe.

Dubai International Airport topped the list, with 791,193 departures and 790,169 – with most likely to be heading on to other destinations.

This was followed by another airport accessed by direct flights from Auckland: Tokyo's Haneda airport was second (725,557 departures, 720,043 arrivals) while Indonesia's Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta Airport came third (645, 758 departures, 652,181 arrivals).

The busiest US airport was revealed to be Chicago O'Hare International Airport in fourth place – famously seen in the classic Christmas film Home Alone, when the McAllister family takes a mad dash through Terminal 3. It will see 620,810 departures and 612,163 arrivals – and hopefully no one leaves any family members behind. Air New Zealand started direct flights to Chicago last week.

And in Europe, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport made the list in eighth place, with 552,616 departures and 552,576 scheduled for the French capital.

The days leading up to Christmas prove to be the busier than the day itself – with numbers peaking at 99,948 scheduled flights on the 23rd, which drops to 83,221 flights on the 25th.

Chicago O'Hare International Airport is the busiest in the United States and was also famously featured in Home Alone. Photo / 123RF
Chicago O'Hare International Airport is the busiest in the United States and was also famously featured in Home Alone. Photo / 123RF

Auckland Airport revealed last week what its busiest days for travel over the holiday period are expected to be.

Saturday, December 22, and Sunday, January 6, top the list, with more than 43,000 travellers expected through the international terminal on each of the two peak travel days.

On eight other days — December 20, 21, 23 and 26, and January 3, 4, 5, and 13 more than 40,000 travellers are expected through the same terminal.

However, Kiwi travellers flying with Air New Zealand could face delays – as engineers for the national carrier plan to strike on December 21.

Talking to Newstalk ZB, Brent Thomas, the commercial director for House of Travel, said the impact was likely to extend well beyond the day of strike action.

"If travel is disrupted on the 21st December, that's going to have a flow-on impact into the 22nd and beyond," Thomas said.

"The 22nd through to the 24th will be close to fully booked already. The availability of seats on those flights is going to be fairly limited."

If you're travelling over Christmas and these numbers are making you nervous, there are a few ways to cope with the chaos.

Be sure to arrive at the airport earlier than usual, be familiar with your airline's baggage allowance (Christmas gifts can be heavy), check in online in advance, prepare for potential delays and above all, stay calm and be nice to staff.

Oh, and don't forget the kids.

Top ten busiest countries

1. USA (118,0171 departures, 118,844 arrivals)
2. China (53,704 departures, 52,037 arrivals)
3. India (16,765 departures, 16,339 arrivals)
4. Indonesia (14,487 departures, 14,158 arrivals)
5. Canada (14,257 departures, 14,202 arrivals)
6. Japan (14,106 departures, 13,926 arrivals)
7. Brazil (12,018 departures, 12,040 arrivals)
8. United Kingdom (10,994 departures, 10,888 arrivals)
9. Germany (10,149 departures, 10,133 arrivals)
10. Spain (10,129 departures, 10,030 arrivals)

Top ten busiest cities

1. New York (7667 departures, 7596 arrivals)
2. Chicago (6686 departures, 6678 arrivals)
3. London(6071 departures, 6007 arrivals)
4. Atlanta(5264 departures, 5254 arrivals)
5. Dallas (5169 departures, 5157 arrivals)
6. Shanghai (4600 departures, 4402 arrivals)
7. Moscow (4489 departures, 4379 arrivals)
8. Paris (4348 departures, 4287 arrivals)
9. Bangkok (4274 departures, 4087 arrivals)
10. Los Angeles (4239 departures, 4269 arrivals)