International airport

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Separate immigration lines for Citizens, Diplomats and Visitors at John F. Kennedy International Airport
At Shannon Airport, travelers to the United States can "pre-clear" U.S. immigration
International airports collect customs duty on goods imported by passengers
Duty-free shops at International Airports can sell goods free from national taxes and duties. (Ben Gurion Airport Duty Free shops area).

An international airport is an airport that offers customs and immigration facilities for passengers arriving from other countries.[1] Such airports are usually larger, and often feature longer runways and facilities to accommodate the heavier aircraft commonly used for international and intercontinental travel. International airports often also host domestic flights (flights which occur within the country), to serve travellers to and from these regions of the country.

In many smaller countries most airports are international airports, so the concept of an "international airport" has little meaning. In certain countries however, there is a sub-category of limited international airports which handle international flights, but are limited to short-haul destinations (often due to geographical factors) or are mixed civilian/military airports.[citation needed]


Many international airports also serve as hubs, or places where non-direct flights may land and passengers switch planes. International airports often have many airlines represented, and many of these are often foreign.

Passengers connecting to domestic flights from an international flight generally must take their checked luggage through customs and re-check their luggage at the domestic airline counter, requiring extra time in the process. In some cases in Europe luggage can be transferred to the final destination even if it is a domestic connection.

In some cases, travelers and the aircraft can clear customs and immigration at the departure airport. As one example of this, are airports in Canada with United States border preclearance facilities. This allows flights from those airports to fly into US airports that do not have customs and immigration facilities. Luggage from such flights can also be transferred to a final destination in the U.S. through the airport of entry.*******


Aerial photograph of George Bush Intercontinental Airport, an international airport in Houston, United States

Many airports with regularly scheduled international service have the word "International" in their official names, but others, including such major airports as London Heathrow Airport, Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, Changi Airport (Singapore), Frankfurt Airport, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and George Bush Intercontinental Airport do not. Conversely, some airports which call themselves international airports, especially in smaller United States cities, in fact have no scheduled international airline passenger service but do have customs and immigration facilities serving charter, cargo and general aviation flights. At many of these airports customs and immigration services are only available with advance notice. One example of such an airport is Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, Michigan. A few, such as Gary/Chicago International Airport in Gary, Indiana, are in fact not international airports at all; they are not designated as airports of entry but aspire to become such in the future and added "international airport" to their names as a marketing tool.[citation needed]

International in name only[edit]

Other airports which (usually) previously served international flights now serve primarily or exclusively domestic flights (international traffic having been redirected to a newer, larger airport in the area), but retain the "international" designation in their name. Examples of these are:

International airports in the United States with only domestic flights include:

International airports in the United States with no scheduled flights include:

Six US Essential Air Service airfields (federally-subsidised for scheduled flights to one domestic hub only) bill themselves as international airports:

All are on the Canadian border; some are able to accept Canadian general aviation flights with one to two hours advance notice.

List of international airports[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Katherine Barber, ed. (2004). The Canadian Oxford Dictionary (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195418163.