Here are a few tips on how to entertain yourself and learn how to navigate it.
Lots of people across the country either hate Hartsfield, or love it. It is in fact the busiest airport in the world, but fear not, it is also the easiest to navigate. I'll give you the quick rundown of the place first before we jump into how to spend eight hours (yes, you read it correctly - EIGHT hours), in this people filled, language packed, culturally stocked airport.
The first thing that will make your--most likely--connection easy is to understand the layout of the terminals. The airport is set up as a simplified tree. The concourses are straight, single lines parallel to each other (T-A-B-C-D-E-F), connected by the Plane Train, or tram, as the trunk.
The concourses usually range from 1-50. The tram comes up smack in the middle of each concourse, so if your gate is around the 20 mark congrats, you will be very close to the tram, but if you're closer to 40, or 5, you will find yourself going on a short hike.
FUN FACT: The phonetic alphabet you will hear when you get on the tram will be accurate with the exception of concourse D, which is referred to as David instead of Delta. Perhaps we could assume they don't want to promote the airline.
Once you get a hang of the place, you can now explore away.
Things to do:
My preferred airline (Delta), has an amazing tool I use constantly. The Fly Delta App has interactive airport maps for (as far as I can tell) all the major airports. There you can find restaurants, restrooms, currency exchange stations, and even smoking areas.
But if you don't have the Delta App, here are some of my favorite places and things to do (I do fly a lot through Hartsfield.)
@AJCosgrovebooks informed me vie twitter that in concourse D, there is a restaurant called "Chicken and Beer," owned by Ludacris and apparently pretty good.
DUTY FREE- This one is mostly interesting for passengers flying internationally, and here's why. You only get actual duty free merchandise IF you hold an international ticket, otherwise you will pay taxes on items you are purchasing. And worse, if you have a domestic ticket, you are not allowed to purchase booze or cigarettes at all. Period. And now, let's say you flew in from another country, you still WILL NOT get duty free upon entrance, you will pay taxes on it. But if you buy it at the country of origin, before flying home, then you will get duty free items there.
The way it works is, you make a purchase and a Duty Free bag will be waiting for you at your gate and handed back to you before you enter the plane. If you are flying internationally on standby and miss your flight, they will return the items to Duty Free and you can then either get refunded or choose to pay the taxes on whatever you purchased.
ADULT BEVERAGES- Or as I like to call it booze! You can buy booze at any time of day (as long as they're open, of course). I've arrived from brazil before at 5am, and lo and behold, the first bar I stopped at was glad to sell me a mimosa.
2 AM SNACK: Now, this is a down side. The last time I flew through and had to spend the night at the airport, the only place selling food at 2am was the McDonald on concourse A.
SLUMBER PARTY: Speaking of having to sleep over at the airport, Hartsfield is one of the few airports that doesn't kick travelers out from the secure areas. In most airports, airport officials will sweep the secure area and order all passengers out until security reopens in the morning.
ART: The airport is filled with art and exhibits. Today we walked by a beautiful African Exhibit they had by the tram between concourses T and A. Essentially you can't go very far without pops of artistry to distract you.
One of my favorite places to hangout--and write a blog posts about the airport--is concourse T. They have this restaurant area with a bar (duh), Argo Tea Cafe, a small market, and Maddio's pizza, but also an ample seating area with comfy, wide seats and tables with charging ports and plugs.
Okay, where were we? Right, so after starting the blog and having a mimosa, we stopped for sushi (and another mimosa) and we are now only one hour prior to our boarding time, so I'm thinking I'm either going to nap, or maybe... zzzzzzzzz.
Let me know if you have any other tips or favorite spots. And if you have any questions, please send it on twitter @r_miotto_e.
Valeu e beijos.