These are the real No Fly Zones you need to know about. I’m not really into flying, and I haven’t experienced it before; I love driving around, pulling over when I feel like it and admire the views. There are places that aren’t really recommended for a break, and such is the case when it comes to airports.
Let’s face it, unless you have the resources to fly in premium class, flying has become a miserable experience. Cash-strapped airlines are cutting back on service and new equipment, while cleverly meeting the upsizing of the population with a downsizing in seat size. Flights are cancelled at the whim of a bean counter’s calculator. Sure, flying is sometimes a neccessary evil, but how about wathing out for the top 15 worst airports around?
15. Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport, Saba Island
See that little bit of tarmac near the foot of the cliff? That’s the shortest commercial runway in the world, 1300 feet in length. Saba is a speck just off the coast of Venezuela. The tourism website says “Landing on Saba is an art form”, an art form that involves flying straight at the cliff before making a sharp turn left onto the tarmac.
14. Frankfurt Hahn International Airport, Germany (HHN)
The Frankfurt reference is definitely an overstatement. This airport is over seventy miles and 2 hours from the actual city. HHN is Germany’s 10th busiest airport, and is sort of the Walmart/McDonalds/generic hated bargain company of choice for air travel. Travellers get what they pay for, but they are not amused.
13. Barra Airport, Scotland
Barra is a remote town of 1200 people in the Outer Hebrides about 200 miles west of Glasgow. There’s a fish factory and it’s a center for the study of Gaelic. But it’s a lovely spot with a great beach that’s said to be popular for cockle picking. Oh, did they mention that it also doubles as a landing strip? At least at low tide it does.
12. Berlin Tegel International Airport, Germany (TXL)
The most common word used to describe Tegel is “horrible.” At least, that’s the general opinion of passengers going through this place on their way to the final destination – not the movie.
11. Gibraltar International Airport (GIB)
For some, the main flaw of Gibraltar Airport is an amusing eccentricity: a runway that has a busy four lane highway running straight across it is a cause for concern. This airport is only a few square miles, so space – especially flat space – is at a premium. Every time a plane lands or takes off, barriers come up on Winston Churchill Avenue, like a train crossing.
10. Bergamo Orio al Serio International Airport, Italy (BGY)
Il Caravaggio, named after the great Italian Renaissance maste, is small and hostile. With a shortage of electrical outlets and seats, this airport is a dreary introduction to such a wonderful country.
9. New York City LaGuardia International Airport, USA (LGA)
LaGuardia is ugly, inefficient and dangerous.Vice President Joe Biden gave it this review: ‘If I blindfolded you and took you to LaGuardia Airport in New York, you think, “I must be in some third world country.’”
8. Paro International Airport, Bhutan (PBH)
Bhutan is rated as one of the world’s happiest countries. That’s probably because the natives don’t have to land at this airport in a deep valley surrounded by 18,000 foot peaks. And then there are the houses scattered along the final approach path, which planes clear by just a few feet. Very few pilots are licensed to handle it.
7. Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Philippines (MNL)
NAIA is coming off a three-year run as the undisputed heavyweight champ of airport badness as they finally started a long-overdue refurbishing. But then, this is a place where the air conditioning has been known to go down for months without being fixed, turning into an airless sweat lodge in the stifling heat.
6. Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport, Nepal (KTM)
The Lonely Planet travel guide calls Nepal “Travel Heaven”. That you have to go through Airport Hell to get there may make devout travellers doubt their own faith. The two most common words in traveller reviews of KTM are “filthy” and “disgusting”. Many recall being terrified of being assaulted by hordes of porters and taxi drivers.
5. Benazir Bhutto Airport, Islamabad, Pakistan (ISB)
Taxi drivers may drive you where you want to go or they may just rip you off. Pakistan is in the top 50 of corrupt countries in the world, so why should one of their larger airports be any different? Notably absent: Crowd control, cleanliness, technology and consistent security checks.
4. Toncontín International Airport, Honduras
Just three miles from the center of the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, the History Channel’s program Most Extreme Airports ranked this the second most dangerous in the world. At an altitude of 3500 feet, in a valley surrounded by steep mountains, the zigzag approach to the airport is considered to be one of the most difficult in the world and a travel nightmare.
3. Tashkent International Airport, Uzbekistan (TAS)
Tashkent is one of the greatest of the cities on the legendary Spice Route. But now it’s the Wild, Wild East. Their International Airport reflects the finding that rated Uzbekistan as the fifth most corrupt country in the world. Travellers here have been known to pay for nonexistent class upgrades.
2. Tenzing-Hillary Airport, Lukla, Nepal
Lukla, or as the Daily Mail called it “The terror at the top of the world”, is the jumping off point for climbers heading to Everest. It’s now named after the two men who first who conquered Everest’s mighty peak in 1953. This airport has been Number One on Most Dangerous lists before. But then, if you’re going to climb the world’s tallest mountain, a white knuckle landing is probably no biggie.
1. Princess Juliana Airport, St. Martin
This short runway, built very close to shore, means all planes, from Twin Otters to 747s, fly just a few feet over the heads of people on Maho beach. This poses little danger to the people on the plane. But how would you enjoy your vacation if it were your plane that decapitated a beach full of tourists?