The world's scariest runways

Posted Date: 22 August 2016
Worlds scariest runways

Some travellers look for adrenaline-filled activities to get their thrills, while some prefer to relax and chill out. One thing we all have in common is that we have to board a plane to get to our destination. However, even the most seasoned thrill seekers might find landing at these airports can be a hair-raising experience!


The world's scariest runways infographic created by: Southern Cross Travel Insurance

 

The world’s scariest runways

Sometimes the journey is as exciting as the destination... But when a runway is this scary, the experience might not be what you had in mind. We look at some of the scariest runways and offer some advice.

Princess Juliana International Airport

St Martin, Caribbean

Imagine landing right over a tropical beach. This airport’s short runway juts out right over a popular beach, where sunbathers are often blown away (literally) by the jet stream!

Who lands there: Most international passenger jets, as big as Airbus A340.

What makes it scary? Short runway, Natural obstacles (sunbathers)

Runway length: 2,300m (or the length of 31 Airbus 380s)

Standard runway: 2,500m (or the length of 34 Airbus A380s)

Tenzing-Hillary Airport,

Nepal

This airport is a popular one for mountaineers reaching Everest Base Camp. It’s not for the faint of heart though, as landing here means battling high winds, altitude and an extremely short, steep uphill runway (11% gradient), that ends in a sheer cliff edge!

Who lands there: 19 seaters like Twin Otters and Dornier Do 228s.

What makes it scary? Short runway, Crazy weather, High altitude, Natural obstacles (like a cliff)

Runway length: 527m (or the length of 6.5 Airbus A380s)

Standard runway: 2,500m (or the length of 34 Airbus A380s)

Funchal Airport

Madeira, Portugal

Madeira’s airport has a runway that has been specially constructed... On a bridge! If that’s not challenging enough, the surrounding mountains make the approach for planes a very difficult one, where pilots must aim directly at the mountains until the very last minute!

Who lands there: Most international passenger jets, up to Airbus A330.

What makes it scary? Short runway, Man-made obstacles, Natural obstacles

Runway length: 1,800m (or the length of 25 Airbus A380s)

Standard runway: 2,500m (or the length of 34 Airbus A380s)

Barra Airport

Scotland

Barra’s airstrip is the only one of its kind in the world - because it’s a beach! This has obvious side effects, such as the soft runway preventing larger aircraft from landing, and the airstrip being under water at high tide. Scotland’s weather is also notoriously unfriendly, just for another challenge.

Who lands there: Only specially rigged 19-seat Twin Otter Propeller planes can land here.

What makes it scary? Short (sometimes submerged) runway, Natural obstacles, Crazy weather

Runway length: 849m (or the length of 12 Airbus A380s)

Standard runway: 2,500m (or the length of 34 Airbus A380s)

Gibraltar Airport

Gibraltar

This runway has a host of quirks. Firstly, it’s often affected by unique weather patterns, diverting flights to nearby airports. The short runway also juts out over the water, leaving no room for error.  More surprisingly though, it also crosses a main highway that has to be closed when flights are landing – that’s one traffic jam we’d rather not be in!

Who lands there: Most passenger jets from Europe, as big as Airbus A320.

What makes it scary? Short runway, Man-made obstacles (umm cars?), Crazy weather

Runway length: 1,680m (or the length of 23 Airbus A380s)

Standard runway: 2,500m (or the length of 34 Airbus A380s)

Courchevel Airport

French Alps, France

Located high in the French Alps, this airport offers pilots a smorgasbord of challenges: high altitude, a super short runway perched on the edge of a mountain, surrounding peaks, frequent bad weather and a hair-raisingly steep runway (18% gradient). Needless to say, only specially trained pilots may land here.

Who lands there: 19 seater Twin Otters, 5-10 seater Cessnas and other small aircraft.

What makes it scary? Short runway, Crazy weather, High altitude, Natural obstacles

Runway length: 537m (or the length of 7 Airbus A380s)

Standard runway: 2,500m (or the length of 34 Airbus A380s)

John F Kennedy Airport

New York, USA

This is the 5th busiest airport in the USA, but is neighboured by two other airports... which makes the airspace very crowded. It’s like landing in a swarm of bees, except they’re other planes! Pilots also have to follow a spiral descent pattern, while avoiding the water surrounding the runway.

Who lands there: Most international carrier jets, up to Airbus A380.

What makes it scary? Man-made obstacles (lots of them)

Runway length: 3,682m (or the length of 50 Airbus A380s)

Standard runway: 2,500m (or the length of 34 Airbus A380s)

Before you go hunting out adventure in the skies, here are a few handy tips to keep in mind:

Be prepared

Get your travel insurance as soon as you book flights, in case the airport is unexpectedly closed.

Comfort zone

Make sure you check what type of aircraft you’ll be travelling in before you book, as we can’t cover you if you simply decide you’re not confident travelling on a smaller plane.

Watch your stuff

Keep your high value items including electronics, in your carry-on baggage. We can’t cover them if they’re in checked luggage.

Thrill seeking

Remember insurance is for the unexpected. If you’re planning on joining the other sunbathers getting blown away by jet wash on St Martin beach, you might not be covered.

Even if you’re flying to one of these airports, don’t worry! As long as you’re a paying customer on an established and licensed passenger carrying service operator – we’ve got your back

Related Articles

Hacks before you fly

Travel hacks before you fly

If you’re keen to get away and start your holiday relaxed, these travel hacks will help make your departure easier. read more

Airport scams advice

Airport scams and how to avoid them

From currency converters to accommodation transfers, here are the top airport scams to watch out for! read more

Dangerous destinations

Travelling to dangerous destinations

Read our travel tips if you’re planning on travelling to dangerous destinations. read more

Keywords