The 13 Scariest Airports To Land At

List Rules
Vote up the most terrifying destinations.

Despite the fact many people have a fear of flying, airplane travel is statistically the safest mode of transportation. But that statistic becomes almost irrelevant when taking into account the scariest airports in the world. These airports that look dangerous often have extremely short runways, turbulent weather with high winds, and geographically baffling landing strips. If you're traveling into any of the scariest airports, be doubly sure to keep your seat belt fastened until the plane comes to a complete stop.

Imagine an airport where only eight highly trained pilots in the entire world are allowed to land there. Or how about an airport runway that intersects with a four-lane highway that must be entirely shut down when a plane takes off or lands? Think you would be nervous if you looked out your airplane window and saw a runway made entirely out of ice?

These airports will most likely terrify even the most seasoned of travelers. If you have a serious fear of flight, perhaps you should skip these locations altogether.


  • 1
    246 VOTES

    Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport Has The Shortest Runway In The World

    Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport Has The Shortest Runway In The World
    Video: YouTube

    Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport is located in Saba in the Caribbean Islands. If a traveler wants to fly into Saba, they will have to land at Juancho E. Yrausquin, as it is the only airport on the island.

    It features the shortest commercial runway in the world, measuring a mere 1,312 feet. There is absolutely no room for error since the runway ends with high cliffs on both sides, and the Caribbean Sea awaits at the bottom of the cliffs.

    246 votes
  • 2
    172 VOTES

    Only Eight Pilots In The World Are Allowed To Land At Paro Airport

    Only Eight Pilots In The World Are Allowed To Land At Paro Airport
    Video: YouTube

    Paro Airport in Bhutan is located in the mountains of the Himalayas at 1.5 miles above sea level, with a short runway measuring only 6,500 feet long. Boeing even called it "one of the world's most difficult [airports] for takeoffs and landings." 

    It is so treacherous that only eight pilots are qualified to land in the remote region - their special training allows them to navigate their way through houses on the mountain, strong winds, valleys, and heavy turbulence. In fact, until 2011 only one airline could land their planes there.

    172 votes
  • 3
    121 VOTES

    Tenzing-Hillary Airport Is Carved Into A Mountainside

    Tenzing-Hillary Airport Is Carved Into A Mountainside
    Video: YouTube

    Imagine setting out to climb Mount Everest - but it's the airplane landing that is the riskiest part of the journey. Most climbers who plan to summit Everest first need to fly into Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Nepal. The airport's landing strip is not only relatively short - at 1,729 feet long - but it also sits atop a steep cliff that has been carved into the mountainside. Pilots also have to navigate their way through harsh, variable weather and snow-covered mountains.

    If that isn't troublesome enough, there isn't even a radar system in place at Tenzing-Hillary. This means a voice communications system is the only way to track the weather. Air traffic controller Dinesh Koirala describes how he communicates with pilots flying into Nepal:

    The pilots tell us when they are approaching, we give them updates on wind and traffic, then as the aircraft enters Lukla valley, we warn choppers to steer clear for the landing... It's unfair to call Lukla the most dangerous airport when there's not much we can do about the terrain or the weather.

    However, Nischal K.C., a helicopter pilot who has often navigated into the airport, said, "It's high-stakes work and there's very little room for error."

    121 votes
  • 4
    75 VOTES

    Courchevel Airport Has A Short Runway And Is Situated In The Alps

    Courchevel Airport Has A Short Runway And Is Situated In The Alps
    Video: YouTube

    Courchevel Airport is located in the Alps of France. It features one of the shortest runways in the world, spanning about 1,722 feet long. The uphill landing strip runs at a gradient measuring 18.5% to slow an aircraft down before it runs out of landing strip. As if that's not risky enough, specially certified pilots also have to navigate their way through valleys and ski slopes before landing.

    The adrenaline-inducing Courchevel Airport is aptly featured in the 1997 James Bond movie, Tomorrow Never Dies.

    75 votes
  • Princess Juliana International Airport Forces Pilots To Circle Back To Avoid The Mountains
    Video: YouTube

    The runway at Princess Juliana Airport in the Caribbean island of St. Martin is less than half the length of the average international airport runway. However, because St. Martin is such a popular tourist destination, major aircraft regularly fly into Princess Juliana.

    Aircraft cruise into the airport directly above crowded Maho Beach. However, the trickiest part of the flight occurs immediately before landing, when an airplane must circle back and around over the beach to avoid the mountains.

    96 votes
  • 6
    54 VOTES

    In Antarctica, Runways Are Made Out Of Ice

    In Antarctica, Runways Are Made Out Of Ice
    Video: YouTube

    The sea ice runways in Antarctica are made entirely out of ice. Pilots must take great caution to avoid a heavy landing or else they risk sinking into the ice. Additionally, in Antarctica, the winter season brings 24 hours of darkness. When factoring in wind conditions and snow, a pilot sometimes has to do a blind landing on a slippery surface.

    "When winds get to be 20 or 30 mph, it creates so much blowing snow that you can't see the runway," Air National Guard Colonel Ronnie Smith said, after flying a dozen seasons's worth of risky landings. "It doesn't take much to create a white-out."

    54 votes