There are many safety concerns to consider when traveling to your destination, such as crime rates and what areas to avoid at night.
When searching for airline tickets, we’re usually looking for our desired dates listed at the best price.
But what about the airport you’re arriving at?
A handful of airports around the world have such treacherous runways or hazardous weather conditions that they are listed as the most dangerous airports in the world.
Whether its short runways, bad weather, poor visibility – or all three – you may want to avoid flying into these airports altogether.
1.Tenzing-Hillary Airport (Lukla Airport), Nepal
Lukla is famous for one thing—it’s the airport you fly into if you’re planning to climb the intimidating Mt. Everest in the Himalayas.
But if you think that trekking your way to the highest summit in the world is where the danger begins, think again.
The runway at this airport is extremely short and pilots have to navigate between two mountains to land.
As if that’s not scary enough, there is no power and no air traffic controllers to navigate pilots to the runway either.
In addition to a risky landing, there has been a high number of deaths on Mt. Everest this past spring.
So, if your lifelong dream happens to be watching the sunset on the top of this mountain, make sure you do your due diligence in preparing—and hold on tight as you come in for an exciting landing.2. Toncontin International Airport, Honduras
Flying into this airport is tricky, making it one of the most dangerous airports in the world.
According to Interesting Engineer:
“They must make a quick 45-degree bank turn to reach the runway in a valley then rapidly drop altitude, being careful not to scrape the terrain directly underneath.”
And what is this terrain underneath?
Why, its family homes – among other things.
Let’s not forget to mention that the runway is extra short, making the tight maneuvering only the beginning of a perilous descent.
With six fatal crashes taking place since 1989, Honduras is looking to build an airport along a longer runway strip at a military base outside of the capital.
Nevertheless, Honduras is the second largest country in Central America and has much to offer by way of tourism and especially amazing food.
But you may want to look into alternate means of arrival.3. Paro Airport, Bhutan
Not surprisingly, another one of the world’s most dangerous airports is tucked deep within the Himalayan mountains.
The mountainous terrain, high altitudes, and shockingly short runway of only 6,500 feet makes Paro Airport a force to be reckoned with.
Turns out, there are only 8 pilots in total who have the skills and qualifications to survive this landing, according to Reader’s Digest.
While you may be one of those adrenaline junkies who actually likes near death experiences, most of us don’t enjoy starting our vacations with our lives flashing before our eyes.4. Narsarsuaq Airport, Greenland
Ironically, Greenland is not so green. As a matter of fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Ice covers not only the mountaintops, but also the runway at Narsarsuaq Airport.
Combined with frigid cold weather and high winds, landing is not going to be the highlight of your trip—unless you count surviving as the best part of your getaway.
Oh yeah, and don’t forget about the low visibility from the heavy snowfall and the ash clouds from the nearby active volcano.
Greenland is one of the most interesting places to visit this year, as Proud American Traveler has previously reported, but perhaps you should fly into a different airport to catch the northern lights at their best.
5. Madeira Airport, Portugal
Just as in Bhutan, there are only a limited number of qualified captains who can navigate Madeira’s runways.
“…Only 20 captains with British Airways are qualified to operate into Madeira Airport (FNC), in which they use waypoints like a banana shed [to guide them in].”
Major airports have an instrument landing system (ILS) that helps guide pilots into a safe landing, but Madeira isn’t one of them.
That means all the technical aspects of commercial airline descents has to be done manually.
You also have the ocean on one side and the mountains on the other, causing especially hazardous high winds.
But the most interesting – and extremely scary – part of this airport is that in order to extend the super short runway, they had to build it on stilts out into the ocean!
It may not be the safest airport to land, but it is a famous one, winning the 2004 Outstanding Structure Award for the structural engineering of its runway.6. Gibraltar International Airport, Gibraltar
Gibraltar is a fun destination located at the very tip of the Iberian Peninsula and is most known for the Rock of Gibraltar, a 426-meters high limestone ridge.
But there is only one airport to get in and out of this high tourist area—and the runway runs directly across a main city street!
The area is only so big, so they had to share the terrain in order to fit an airport there.
Wow Travel reports that, “Vehicles are made to stop every time an aircraft lands or takes off. Somehow there has never been a major accident.”
So if you want to feed a monkey and experience phenomenal culture and views, you may want to consider taking a cruise ship into Gibraltar instead.7. Juancho Yrausquin Airport, Saba, Dutch Caribbean
Saba became famous after becoming the home island of King Kong from the original movie.
The Dutch Caribbean island – which is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from St. Maarten – has an airport that sits on the edge of a cliff.
If you were afraid of landing and taking off on a full size runway with land on both sides, then this tiny 1,300 foot runway will make you run for the hills!
Nevertheless, known for its phenomenal scuba diving, many people are ready to take the risk!
But are you?8. Congonhas Airport, Sao Paulo, Brazil
What makes this airport that serves the 12 million people of São Paulo so dangerous?
The buildings have been built all around the runway, making landing a bit too close to civilization for comfort.
It appears that you may scrape the tops of the bustling city structures below as you descend down to your destination.
Congonhas Airport is also home to the most slippery runway in the world, causing a “large number of fatal crashes,” according to a Forbes report.
Keep a lookout for bad weather conditions when you book your airline tickets – and pay that extra fee to change your dates if the weather looks bad.
9. Svalbard Airport, Norway
Svalbard Airport is the northernmost airport in the world, making it extremely chilly to say the least.
It’s so cold that the entire airport is built on frozen soil, known as permafrost.
You can only arrive during daylight hours because there are no runway lights. This can prove difficult considering there is only daylight in the summer months and total darkness during the winter.
Lowering standards at this infrequent flyer location has caused Svalbard Airport to lose its international designation and now they only cater to scheduled public flights.
If you are one of those extreme travelers who is looking to visit the Arctic Circle, then you will need careful planning to reach this remote airport.10. Courchevel Airport, France
Reader’s Digest reports:
“Located in the French Alps, near the Italian border, sits this dangerous airport serving ski resorts and their daredevil guests.”
Courchevel Airport is located at a literally breathtaking altitude of 6,500 feet.
However, it sports a less impressive runway of just 1,760 feet with an 18.5% gradient slope necessary for planes to slow down fast enough.
There is no approach system or lights to guide pilots safely, leaving it up to their pure skill to get you down in one piece.
Now, this beautiful area is worthy of exploration, but how you get there is up to you.
So when planning your next vacation, it’s in your best interest to be mindful of which airport you’ll be arriving at.
And while you may not decide to forgo the landing of a lifetime, you’ll at least be mentally prepared for the ride!
Please tell us in the comments section about the scariest landing you’ve ever experienced.