INSIDE ATL'S NEW MIDFIELD TERMINAL IN 1980
Atlanta's current midfield passenger terminal opened on September 21, 1980, more than four decades ago! So far, it has been in use a dozen years longer than the previous 2 terminals combined. The following photos show the interior of the complex as it appeared in its first few months of operation.
Eastern Air Lines ticket counter in the north terminal seemed almost endless.
The center section of the Eastern counter with the corridor to security and the escalators to the underground transit at left. The international airline counters are at far right.
International carriers ticket counters in the north terminal circa 1980.
Eastern Air Lines' ticket counter in the north terminal circa 1980.
Gift shop in the main terminal.
In 1980, moving through the main terminal security check point leading to the underground transportation mall usually took less than 60 seconds. Wait times were minimal even during peak travel periods.
Just beyond the security checkpoint (and seen in the background to the right in the above photo) the slow descent into the transit tunnel was bathed in the glow of these neon sculptures created by Stephen Antonakos.
While getting through security and down into the tunnel may have been a breeze in 1980, once you got there it could be difficult to cram into the underground train during the few seconds that the doors remained open.
View from the "Plane Train", originally referred to as the AGTS (Automated Guideway Transit System). These trains run parallel to the underground pedestrian mall.
A circa 1980 view of the underground pedestrian mall connecting the landside terminals to the airside concourses. The "Plane Train" runs behind the walls on each side of this corridor.
Eastern Air Lines had their own exclusive tunnel that ran between the north ends of concourses B and C. This tunnel has since been blocked off from the public. See a photo of this tunnel in 2023 courtesy of Andrew Johnson.
The next three views were taken from the same spot at the center of Eastern's concourse C circa 1980. This view shows the top of the escalators connecting to the underground transportation mall.
Facing north from the center of concourse C.
And finally, facing south from the middle of concourse C.
Interior view of Delta's section of concourse B.
The terminal was the largest in the world when it opened in 1980 but the gates were surprisingly small and cramped. Passengers unable to find seats in the gate area often stood in the concourses, blocking the flow of traffic.
An Eastern promotional photo taken at Hartsfield's gate C-6.
This is the north terminal baggage claim. The new complex was unusual in that the ticketing and baggage claim were on the same level.
The south terminal baggage claim was the mirror image of its north terminal counterpart. This and several other images on this page were found in the Hartsfield Central Passenger Terminal Progress Report published in December 1980.