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World's Top 10 Scariest Airports  
User currently offlineClassicLover From Ireland, joined Mar 2004, 4963 posts, RR: 22
Posted (7 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 19802 times:

Cool article from Travel & Leisure magazine as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald on the world's top 10 scariest airports.


The list is -

1. Paro Airport, Bhutan

2. Princess Juliana International Airport, St. Maarten

3. Reagan National Airport, Washington D.C.

4. Gibraltar Airport, Gibraltar

5. Matekane Air Strip, Lesotho

6. Barra Airport, Barra, Scotland

7. Toncontin Airport, Tegucigalpa, Honduras

8. John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York

9. Madeira Airport, Funchal, Madeira

10. Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport, Saba, Netherlands Antilles

You can see the list at the above link with explanation as to why they were chosen, along with a load of pictures of each of the airports also.

Do you agree on this Top 10?  Smile

I do quite enjoy a spot of flying - more so when it's not in Economy!
51 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
User currently offlineCloudyapple From Hong Kong, joined Jul 2005, 2458 posts, RR: 10
Reply 1, posted (7 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 19721 times:

It would be nice if they could list the definition of being "scary". JFK was on the list for "having to avoid traffic for KLGA and KEWR". I can't imagine pilots are responsible for their own separation from other traffic. What do they think procedures are designed for? And what do they think ATC is there for?

User currently offlineMIgAiR54 From Spain, joined Jun 2007, 2874 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (7 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 19666 times:


I agree with some of them but not with all.

I have been in Toncontin many times and I prefer to land in 2, 3 and 4.

La Aurora in Guatemala, Insbruck, Courchevelle in France or Aspen in Colorado could be in that list.

User currently offlinePanAm747 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 4242 posts, RR: 8
Reply 3, posted (7 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 19644 times:

For the first time traveller, San Diego should be included in that list, especially if approaching from the north, and doubly so if arriving in an EM2...

Pan Am:The World's Most Experienced Airline - P(oor) S(ailor's) A(irline): San Diego's Hometown Airline-Catch Our Smile!
User currently offlineDAL763ER From United States of America, joined Oct 2008, 741 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (7 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 19565 times:

I've landed in FNC and JFK and they're some of the best approaches I know Smile

User currently offlineUN_B732 From United States of America, joined Jul 2001, 4297 posts, RR: 4
Reply 5, posted (7 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 19540 times:

I don't think JFK belongs on that list. Doesn't feel any different to the pax.. If you're gonna put an American airport on there, why not Telluride or Orange County?


What now?
User currently offlineRichierich From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 4539 posts, RR: 6
Reply 6, posted (7 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 19366 times:

JFK? Really?

If they include JFK because its traffic has to avoid LGA and EWR, then why are EWR and LGA not on the list too?
Surely LGA, with three of the four runway ends surrounded by water, would be a "scarier" candidate than JFK. JFK has 14,500ft and 11,000ft long runways, for gosh sakes! Not to mention that LGA is surrounded by the confines of a major metropolitan conurbation!
And what about EWR? Nothing too scary about its location, but they have had a series of near-misses and runway incursions over the past few years. Surely that bumps it up the scariness scale...

Personally, I don't think JFK (or LGA or EWR) should be in the Top 10. A little ridiculous when lumping one of the major US airports in with a tiny Scottish airport that most people have never heard of, never mind flown from.

I'm sure there are plenty of urban airports all around the globe that deserve a spot on the "scariest" list. I could also think of a few "Third World" (I hate that term) countries with airports that I would hate / be scared going to.

None shall pass!!!!
User currently offlineYVR1968 From Australia, joined Feb 2004, 704 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (7 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 19317 times:

Try Terrace (YXT) or Castlegar (YCG) in Canada. Talk about scary. It's like you are on a dive bombing run! All those mountains!

User currently offlineIBERIA747 From Spain, joined Aug 2003, 1835 posts, RR: 56
Reply 8, posted (7 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 19243 times:

Quoting MIgAiR54 (Reply 2):
La Aurora in Guatemala

La Aurora??.

Don't know but...after taking off and landing there lots of times (lived in Guatemala for 6 years), I never saw that airport as a very difficult one. Of course it's not CDG (altitude, runway length, nearby buildings, high terrain in the area) or MAD or any other "easier" airport but I would say there are several more "challenging" airports in Latin America such as Quito, La Paz, Cuzco, Santos Dumont, Congonhas and several others (TGU has been mentioned already) .

User currently offlineOzarkD9S From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 5666 posts, RR: 20
Reply 9, posted (7 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 19242 times:

I've seen far scarier sights INSIDE almost any given airport terminal.

User currently offlineAA737-823 From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 6291 posts, RR: 10
Reply 10, posted (7 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 19128 times:

No, no, no, no, no.
Tegucigalpa is WAY scarier than Washington National.
And SXM? Just because the French can't keep their wheels off the perimeter fence, doesn't mean it's a scary airport.

User currently offlineMAS777 From United Kingdom, joined Jul 1999, 2939 posts, RR: 6
Reply 11, posted (7 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 19124 times:

i would put LHR up there somewhere.. disgusting toilets, crumbling terminals, taxiway congestion, awful road access, virtually non-existant rail links, lost bags, the list goes on - but i guess many of us still 'have' to call it home.. lol...


User currently offlineUniTED From Germany, joined Jan 2004, 315 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (7 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 18981 times:

Ok, maybe the approach isn't that scary, but I'm pretty sure FNJ is much scarier... just by the feeling of being in such an isolated unique place where your every move is being watched! Scary, but exciting!

The opinions expressed here are mine and not necessarily those of Delta Air Lines.
User currently offlinePyrex From Portugal, joined Aug 2005, 4570 posts, RR: 30
Reply 13, posted (7 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 18854 times:

Quoting ClassicLover (Thread starter):
Do you agree on this Top 10?

Well, I must admit that, of that list, I have only really been to Funchal (FNC) but I must admit, it is a scary ride, exactly as described (depending on the direction of the wind, of course). And those mountain rollers make for some bumpy landings. At least now it is no longer the tiny airstrip it was before.

Read this very carefully, I shall write this only once!
User currently offlineBeertrucker From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 403 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (7 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 18649 times:

I agree with DCA. I love flying in on that one. If anyone you have never flown in on DCA this will give you an little bit of an idea of it. But these don't do it compared to the real thing.

This the departure and what every plane does when it leave on I think it is runway 1.


Now here is 2 landings coming into DCA. And yes you got to love the sound of the 727 on the first video. Just liesten to the power up.


and another one on a better day. Sorry I can't find one that shows it from the other side of plane landing so you see the capital building or should I say a good one that shows how the turn feels


From the ground this is what a take off and a landing looks like.


Fly HI
User currently offlineCsturdiv From Australia, joined Aug 2005, 1892 posts, RR: 3
Reply 15, posted (7 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 18624 times:

Quoting Richierich (Reply 6):
Not to mention that LGA is surrounded by the confines of a major metropolitan conurbation!

Like MDW. On approach all you see is house, house, street, house, house, street, house, runway. And it seems like the WN pilots come in there like a Navy pilot coming into a carrier and hoping they hit the cables. Dunno, maybe it is just me that feels that way.  Smile

An American expat from the ORD area living and working in Australia
User currently offlineAllrite From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 2779 posts, RR: 5
Reply 16, posted (7 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 18562 times:

Quoting OzarkD9S (Reply 9):
I've seen far scarier sights INSIDE almost any given airport terminal.

Okay, how about a top 10 for scariest immigration queues in airports!  Smile

I like artificial banana essence!
User currently offlineRB211 From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 632 posts, RR: 2
Reply 17, posted (7 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 18254 times:

SFO definitely bugs me out. The actives are just too close together for comfort. There have been times when I could see the people on the other planes when we were on final approach almost completely parallel. As Keith Jackson would say, "Woah Nellie!"

Airline photography. Whether they're fully clothed, butt naked, having issues or confused I'm taking pictures!!
User currently offlineMHTripple7 From United States of America, joined Feb 2008, 1125 posts, RR: 8
Reply 18, posted (7 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 18217 times:

Quoting ClassicLover (Thread starter):
1. Paro Airport, Bhutan

Having flown into this airport not to long ago, I can definitely say that this approach is the most difficult in the world. To fly an A319 through weaving narrow valleys through the Himalayas is not easy! These pilots definitely have some skill. If you're interested, feel free to view my Trip Report into Paro that includes landing and takeoff videos.

Drukair A319 PBH-DEL In Y W/TONS Of Pix/Vid (by MHTripple7 Jan 10 2009 in Trip Reports)

User currently offlineSPIM2EDDN From Germany, joined Mar 2008, 107 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (7 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 18136 times:

CUZ (Cuzco, Peru) is also a fun approach...

View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Miguel cano alva

User currently offlineBuyantUkhaa From Mongolia, joined May 2004, 3040 posts, RR: 3
Reply 20, posted (7 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 18111 times:

Pity Kai Tak is no longer around  Wink

Tere's a bunch of airports in mountainous valleys that can be challenging. Courchevel and Innsbruck were already mentioned, you can include Kathmandu in there and from what I have read here, Wellington (NZ) also has some "exciting" conditions now and then.

By the way, I think Portugal's scariest airport should not be Madeira (which is spectacular in its own right) but Corvo, with a 400m runway and ocean at both ends.

Regarding "ridiculous middle-of-town airports", we've lost Tempelhof recently...

I scratch my head, therefore I am.
User currently offlineREALDEAL From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (7 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 18078 times:

lax, lax, lax & lax

Photo, fingerprints !!

Bend over (RUBBER GLOVE)

Soeone should teach those immigration guys to smile. Send them to happy school. It looks like they have the rubber glove treatment done to them every morning before work !!!

Also whay aren't US immigration & customs open before 7am at LAX ? I mean they have all these so called security people doing very little, why, if aircraft lands early do I have to sit on aircraft until they open ?

(NOTE don't enter USA thru any other airport anymore. Used to fly thru SFO with UA, but they're hopeless now & probably going broke fast.)

User currently offlineWilkes From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 22 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (7 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 17999 times:

Quoting MIgAiR54 (Reply 2):

I am flying into ASE for the first time weekend after next. What sort of excitement do I have to look forward to?

User currently offlineFlyDreamliner From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 2759 posts, RR: 14
Reply 23, posted (7 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 17959 times:

You know, SDA (Baghdad Saddam International  Wink ) has commercial flights in and out - I think it should be eligible for the list. While the better judgment of others has kept me from visiting, my understanding is that the aircraft have to fly in at higher altitude, more or less fly in a small, tight, circular pattern directly above the field down - to avoid the possibility of surface-to-air missile strikes. I think it should be considered for the list.

"Let the world change you, and you can change the world"
User currently offlineAlianza From United States of America, joined Apr 2008, 230 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (7 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 17834 times:

Quoting AA737-823 (Reply 10):
Tegucigalpa is WAY scarier than Washington National.

Tegucigalpa was quite a sight when I stopped there about 1989. Landing at the airport, our first sight was a shanty town of many connected wood shacks, parallel to the runway, where a woman was washing outside her house. While, at the other end of the runway was a brand new Dunkin Donuts store. Then, when the CO flight pulled up to the single terminal building, we could see old bullet holes in the outside wall !!....that was somewhat scary.

A scary airport is MRD and maybe STT which both have runways alongside, and ending at a mountain.

25 KingAir200 : In my opinion, DCA isn't scary at all. It is interesting, but hardly scary.
26 DashTrash : Depends on whether you're flying the airplane or riding in the back. If you're riding, expect to get bumped around when you get close to the airport.
27 AllegiantAir : No SBH on the list? I'm sure that be quite scary for a load of folks who weren't expecting an exhilirating final approach!
28 REALDEAL : saw a jet crash there about 12 years ago. Think it was a United Express BAe146. Don't think anyone died tho.
29 Incitatus : JFK scary but LGA not scary? The list is not so good. A Sao Paulo Congonhas landing enables views into people's dining rooms inside their condos. A la
30 GentFromAlaska : They've obviously never flown out of Valdez, Alaska on a below minimum day.
31 NorthstarBoy : JFK is not scary at all. LGA can be a little intimidating to non-New Yorkers who rarely fly in there, as you come in on final straight over the bay, i
32 Anetter123 : Has anyone flown into El Alto airport at La Paz, Bolivia? Isn't that quite a scary airport to fly into c'onsidering it sits 13K above sea level? Somet
33 DashTrash : Nope. Only thing remotely like that was one having an uncontained engine failure according to the NTSB site.
34 XJET : What is so challenging about LAP? I have been in their numerous times and as I recall it is in the middle of a field. It isn't near as challenging as
35 Post contains links KLASM83 : 'Twas a Gulfstream in 2003. Wilkes, I say sit on the right side of the aircraft to get the best view of the mountain ridge that seems to come up and
36 FRAspotter : You read my mind... I'm surprised that this one didn't make the list, with the runway being at such an angle on the mountain side, it takes one hell
37 Alessandro : Väröy, Norway, closed to regular traffic due to downdraft Goma, DRC, next to a very active vulcano.
38 SurfandSnow : How about BUR? Nearby mountains, a crowded terminal that is EXTREMELY close to the runways, and runways themselves so short that they leave absolutely
39 StudeDave : I'm still trying to figure this one out-- our runway runs more East/West then North/South. Maybe you're talking about those now-and-then flights that
40 Post contains links Ambanmba : Don't forget WLG http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_LaAkAyoz0 Always great for a roller-coaster landing.
41 AeroHero128 : - KT already has a posthumous nod on my list. But who asked me? - DCA? As long as the pilot is keen and the pax love the view, no prob on the RivVis1
42 Max777geek : Im pretty sure everyone knows nearby home or frequently visited airport which are scary for different reason. From Italy, the most significant I can n
43 Kappel : Indeed, FNC still gives me sweaty palms, especially that last turn above the ocean if you land from the south, but it's not as bad as it was before t
44 ThirtyEcho : Travel & Leisure magazine, noted aviation authority? "Scary," to whom? Does scary equate to dangerous? The scariest airport will always be the deck of
45 Jpyvr : I think the La Paz that the original poster was referring to was not LAP in Baja California, Mexico, but instead LPB, which is El Alto Airport in La
46 Alasdair1982 : SFO as well for sure. Final approach for the 28's too close to the water for their comfort
47 BMI727 : This list is kind of wrong. JFK and DCA aren't scary, the pilots just need to be on top of their game. I dont really see how SXM is scary either. Saba
48 JM017 : SAN? Really? Not scary to me at all. Nor is JFK. DCA is fun to fly into. From videos i have seen, I would give my votes to TGU and the old Kai Tak. A
49 LipeGIG : I would put SDU on the list ! What helps is the beutiful view of Rio de Janeiro, otherwise...
50 BMI727 : Well, based on their interpretation of scary, yes. Of course we all know better. There are the safe airports, the really safe airports, and the place
51 Post contains links and images IBERIA747 : Here are a few pics of La Paz's "El Alto-J. F. Kennedy" airport in Bolivia: View Large View MediumPhoto © Peter M Garwood View Large View Medium
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