The Ten Most “Thrilling” Airports

One of our favorite travel sites, Airfarewatchdog, today released their list of the world’s ten most “thrilling” airports. From hairpin turns to to landings over sunbathers to runways accessible only at low tide, these landings and takeoffs aren’t for the faint of heart.

“Globe-trotting frequent flyers probably have their own favorite ‘thrilling’ airports that might not be on this list. Anyone who once flew into the old Hong Kong airport remembers literally being able to see what people in adjacent apartment buildings were watching on their TV sets. And let’s not forget the amusement park ride that is St. Barts’ tiny airport. How fun is that!” Airfarewatchdog president George Hobica said.

The picks include:

  • Toncontin International Airport, Tegucigalpa, Honduras: To line up with the runway, planes must make a last-second 45-degree turn.
  • Princess Juliana International Airport, Philipsburg, St. Maarten: Planes fly mere feet over sunbathers.
  • Queenstown Airport, Queenstown, New Zealand: On descent, passengers may feel a sudden drop in altitude caused by downdrafts.
  • Gustaf III Airport, St. Jean, St. Barts: “Small airports, short runways, and terrain are the three whammies of flying,” says Pilot Anonymous. Gustaf III Airport has all three.
  • Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport, Sitka, Alaska: Unpredictable weather means that pilots need to take caution of boulders and other debris that can wash onto the runway.
  • Courcheval Airport, Courcheval, France: A short 1,722-foot runway, and Courcheval has a steep incline (which slows planes down on landing and speeds them up on takeoff).
  • Catalina Airport (Airport in the Sky), Avalon, California: The sole runway is raised in the middle, so much so that pilots can’t see where it ends.
  • LaGuardia Airport, New York, New York: Before landing, pilots make a number of white-knuckle turns, one of which is 180-degrees around Citi Field.
  • Tenzing-Hillary Airport (Lukla Airport), Lukla, Nepal: This is 9,000 feet high in the Himalayas, and pilots have one shot to land, as the terrain rules out a fly-around.
  • Barra Airport, Barra, Scotland: It’s always a beach landing, and runways form when the tide goes out.
  • But we want to hear from you – what did they miss?