Airports That Are The Least Favorites Of Pilots

By Aakash M March 5, 2024

Becoming a pilot is no easy feat, as it entails a significant responsibility that demands unwavering precision and focus. Pilots face numerous challenges and hazards, navigating colossal metal birds through crowded skies, varying weather conditions, and challenging terrains. When asked about airports they’d prefer to avoid, seasoned flyers shared stories, offering insights into the wild world of aviation mishaps.

Quora/ Randy Duncan

Some airports, like Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, demand high alertness due to restricted airspace and other considerations. Madeira Cristiano Ronaldo Airport on Madeira Island poses challenges with harsh weather conditions affecting visibility and a narrow runway. Lake Tahoe Airport in California is described as “pretty bad” due to its challenging layout resembling a “toilet bowl,” although some pilots relish the challenges it presents.

Catalina Airport in California offers a thrilling but potentially nerve-wracking experience with a plateau runway over water and a hidden hump. In Alaska, Juneau International Airport presents difficulties with its harsh weather and a mountain at the end of the runway. In Europe, Innsbruck Airport’s placement within a mountain valley raises safety concerns despite its size.

Instagram/ Md. Aminul Hassan

Historically, Kai Tak Airport in Hong Kong was known for its challenging approach amid rugged terrain, while Alton Bay Seaplane Base in New Hampshire presents a unique challenge with its ice runway. Bhutan’s Paro International Airport, nestled among mountains, is considered one of the world’s most challenging airports, with only a handful of certified pilots allowed to fly there.

Similarly, Tenzing Hillary Airport in Nepal boasts a short runway and steep gradient, while LaGuardia Airport in New York is notorious for its short runways amidst urban surroundings. USS Lexington, a moving aircraft carrier, adds complexity with its small landing area and harsh winds.

Zaragoza Air Base in Spain has seen close calls due to parallel runways, while Gibraltar Airport’s proximity to a rock and unpredictable winds make for a nerve-wracking experience. John Wayne Airport in California requires precise maneuvers, and Aspen Airport in Colorado frustrates pilots with its approach and ground operations.

Wikimedia/ Visitor07

Pilots also contend with Pendleton Airport’s runway dip in Oregon and Yeager Airport’s short runway atop a mountain in West Virginia. Burbank Airport in California has tight landing conditions, and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey faces congestion and lengthy taxi times.

Even busy airports like John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka, Bangladesh, present frustrations with delays, congestion, and poor communication. San Diego International Airport faces obstacles like hills and buildings, while Los Angeles International Airport has numerous restrictions and airspace overlaps.

Wikimedia/ Jeffrey Beall

With its box canyon layout, Telluride Regional Airport in Colorado adds to the stress for pilots, and Akureyri International Airport in Finland requires precise navigation through fjords. Floro Airport in Norway has challenging weather and terrain, while Catarman National Airport in the Philippines sees crossing traffic due to its location.

Haneda Airport in Japan is known for its stringent procedures and historical accidents, and Kahului Airport in Hawaii presents difficulties with its short runway and harsh winds. These airports represent just a glimpse into the myriad challenges pilots face daily, showcasing the complexities of aviation in diverse environments worldwide.

Read the full article to see the full list of airports.