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13 Worst Airports That’ll Make You Hate Flying

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It is said that the higher the IQ someone has, the more likely they are to fear flying. For many, the fear of flying, also called aerophobia or aviophobia, is about having a lack of control over their circumstances.

People who fear flying may fear several aspects, like take-offs, landings, heights, or just the fact you’re thousands of feet above the earth, traveling hundreds of miles an hour in a metal tube powered by a highly explosive mixture of liquid dinosaurs.

With difficult take-offs, landings, and other approaches, you’ll want to ensure that whether or not you’ve enough courage to deal with these flight fears. However, it’s not just flying that can give people the willies. Sometimes, airports themselves make people hate flying.

From poor location to crowded terminals to check-in, wait times, too long security lines, inefficient transport links, and poor on-time performance, all these aspects can make you hate flying even more.

In this post, you will learn about some airports that can make you hate flying. Now, the question is, why? Let’s find out in the details below.

The Worst Airports That Can Make You Hate Flying

1. Princess Juliana International Airport, Sint Maarten

People below the plane

Located close to the shore of Simpson Bay Lagoon, Princess Juliana International Airport is the major airport on the Caribbean Island of Saint Martin.

As you may know, a regular to large-sized plane needs around 8,000 feet of runway for proper operation. But, the landing strip of this airport is only 7,500 feet, making it one of the most dangerous airports worldwide. 

Additionally, with around 170 aircraft movements daily, this is one of the busiest airports in the region. Before landing, planes begin their landings over the island’s crystal blue waters.

Taking off isn’t fun either, as it looks like your plane will crash into the water before it climbs into the sky. Those who want a spectacular landing and take-off experience can try this international airport. And by spectacular, I mean effing terrifying.

See Related: Cheapest Places to Fly Around the World

2. Gibraltar International Airport, Gibraltar

Gibraltar International Airport, Gibraltar View road

At first glance, the Gibraltar International Airport looks like virtually any other airport you’d fly into. Though this runway is not hard to land on, the intersecting public access road makes it one of the most dangerous airports worldwide.

This is the only road in existence that interlinks Gibraltar to Spain. And again, if you didn’t read that right, it runs through the runway. While landing, cars are just feet away from the aircraft, and you can see them crossing the track when your plane is on approach.

Luckily, it’s not all willy-nilly. The authorities close the road whenever an airplane is about to land. They have set signals and barriers to control the movements of automobiles on the road, like a rail crossing. 

But it’s still freaky dangerous compared to other airports! The airport’s short 5,827-foot landing strip ends with the sea on both sides, making pilots hit the brakes immediately when touching down.

Moreover, if you’ve ever wondered whether a plane can outrace a car in a drag race, this airport is the best place to clarify your doubts.

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3. Leipzig/Halle Airport, Germany

Plane deport from Leipzig/Halle Airport, Germany

Have you ever heard of landing an airplane on a bridge? Seems like a catastrophically stupidly dangerous idea. Would you like to drive under that bridge when a plane is landing? That seems even stupider, but if yes, look at Leipzig/Halle Airport.

At this airport, takeoffs and landings are pretty standard. The only exception is that the airport is built above a highway. This seems fantastic and futuristic if you’re five years old or have no sense of self-preservation. To the rest of us ordinary folk, it’s just plain bonkers.

The single terminal airport features six jet bridges if that weren’t enough. Once you visit this airport, one thing is sure: you will never look at an overpass in the same way again. 

See Related: What is Customs at the Airport?

4. Courchevel Airport, France

Deport road for plane at Courchevel Airport, France

Located in a popular skiing area of the French Alps, this airport’s airstrip is one of the shortest in the world, at 525 meters. Though the runway is short, it can support commercial airline traffic. The fun doesn’t stop there because the runway is uphill, not flat, making it difficult for pilots to judge the landing angles correctly. Oh, goody.

Another thing is that this airport doesn’t have any instrumentation assistance. That means pilots have to land the airplane by sight alone.

Altiport

Additionally, when it comes to a landing, you’ve got three options. Take out the ski area next to the airport, crash into the mountainside, or land perfectly on your first try. That’s right; there’s no go-around procedure at this airport either!

5. Gisborne Airport, New Zealand

Railcraft beside road plane

Do you think having a road intersecting the runway where airplanes land is nerve-wracking? If yes, you won’t want to try this New Zealand airport where a commonly used railway crosses the runway. 

That’s right; your airplane will compete with a train for landing space. Don’t let the beautiful turquoise waters on the approach fool you – your plane is still going down for a landing if there’s a train in the way. 

If you happen to be taking off from this airport, it isn’t uncommon for a train to get in the way of your plane while it is approaching take-off speed. Moreover, there is no need to worry if your aircraft suddenly hits the brakes. It will probably stop on time—probably. Just make sure your tray tables are in their upright and locked positions.

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6. Newark Liberty International Airport, New Jersey

Lufthansa Plane at Newark Liberty International Airport, New Jersey

Located 15 miles southwest of Midtown Manhattan, Newark Liberty International Airport is one of the three major airports serving the New York Metropolitan Area. 

This is one of the busiest and worst airports in the US due to flight delays. For instance, a report from DailyMail states that only 75.71% of flights were on time, whereas 24.29% were late or canceled. This data shows the inconvenience caused to passengers by flight delays or cancellations. 

The airport authority’s common excuse for these flight delays is “bad weather.” However, they schedule more flights than the airport’s runway configuration can efficiently handle. 

Other problems people face at this international airport in New Jersey include its inconvenient location, poor amenities, flight cancellations, and reportedly faulty equipment.

7. Barra Airport, Scotland

Plane park in the road at Barra Airport, Scotland

Who needs pavement for a runway? What are you, soft? Plenty of airplanes are equipped with skis or pontoons to land on snow or water, respectively. But what about beach sand? This Scottish airport requires airplanes to land on sand because its runway is on the beach. 

With three different “runways” on the airport, pilots are forced to analyze the starting of a particular track with wooden poles staked into the sand.

At high tide, the runways are underwater. And oh, by the way, the beach also doubles as a public beach, so depending on the time of day, pilots might not be able to take off, land, or contend with people walking dogs and building sandcastles!

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8. Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, Ohio

Deport gate at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, Ohio

The largest and busiest airport in Ohio, Cleveland Hopkins is an international airport in Cleveland, United States. By passenger numbers, it is the 43rd busiest airport in the United States. 

The airport is frequently ranked as the worst medium-sized facility in the US. Several points make this airport one of the worst in the US, including limited accessibility, outdated facilities, terrible check-in process, poor on-time performance, rude staff, lousy parking (thanks to misleading signs), and inconvenient shuttle pick-up location. 

Also, you might have to sit on the tarmac longer than your actual flight due to flight delays and slow check-ins. Another frustrating thing is that collecting your luggage after the landing may take you forever. 

Due to the slow luggage delivery, you might have to wait a long time in the baggage claim area, making the journey even more aggravating. 

9. Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport, Saba

Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport, Saba

If you’re flying into Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport, then congratulations. You’re about to land on the shortest commercial runway in the world. Only 400 meters in length, commercial jets can’t land here. That means you’re taking a prop plane or a helicopter. 

Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport is on a cliff, so you may want to ensure your pilot doesn’t overshoot the runway. Going too far means you will end up crashing into the sea, resulting in a miserable death.

Picture from above of Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport, Saba

The best way to describe this landing experience is to compare it to landing on an aircraft carrier – a practice that isn’t exactly safe in and of itself. 

If you approach or take off from this airport in windy weather, the experience will be even more authentic to the real carrier experience. Maybe pack another pair of underwear, just in case. And a life vest. And a flare gun. And valium.

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10. Madeira Airport, Portugal

Highway to Madeira Airport, Portugal

Before the runway extension was built, many prayers were said in the landing patterns at this airport because on one side, you’ve got the mountains, and on the other side is the sea.

It was almost the dictionary definition of being between a rock and a hard place. Now that the main runways have been extended to standard length, landing here is considerably easier. 

Easy, only if you don’t realize your plane is landing on a platform built over the water. Yup. There’s no ground underneath your airplane when you land or take off from this runway. 

The views outside your window are spectacular, but so are the fears. Realizing that the platform supporting your plane could bust underneath its weight can make passengers panic.

The only way to distract your mind is to keep chanting the sacred Madeira prayer while landing or taking off at this airport: Please don’t break, please don’t break, please don’t break!

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11. Ice Runway, Antarctica

Frozen road at Ice Runway, Antarctica

Serving the Antarctic program for the United States, the Ice Runway of Antarctica is the primary service station for Fort McMurdo when the season is right. The entire runway is constructed of sea ice and is regularly used by wheeled jets. 

Don’t worry; the ice only sinks in a few inches when your airplane lands – just a few. A laser light system measures the sinking to ensure the plane doesn’t sink in any further, say, a few feet. 

Ice Runway, Antarctica

Despite the ice possibly cracking and swallowing up a plane whole, this airport isn’t the most dangerous on the list – but it is the coldest. It’s freezing.

12. Denver International Airport, Colorado

Denver International Airport, Colorado

Shocker, isn’t it? Denver International Airport (DIA) is another airport with the worst on-time departures. You will usually see long queues at the airport. That means passengers have to wait hours to get through the security checks. 

Travelers may face other issues at this international airport, including construction hassles, bumpy take-offs and landings, understaffed checkpoints, parking issues, and long TSA (Transportation Security Administration) lines. 

The primary reason for bumpy take-offs and landings is turbulence caused by mountain waves from majestic natural surroundings. These waves usually shake the plane while departing or approaching the DIA’s runways.

Plus, all the conspiracy theories surrounding this airport will wear your soul down if you go too far down the rabbit hole of nonsense. Please don’t do it; I’ve been down there, and it’s all garbage.

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13. LaGuardia Airport, New York

LaGuardia Airport, New York

This is another name on the list of worst airports globally. Though this airport is not as visually scary as other airports, the main problems you may experience here are crowded airspace, short runways surrounded by water, small waiting areas, broken escalators, and active bird wildlife that leads to an insane number of bird strikes.

However, after recent reconstruction work, the airport has become one of the nicest in New York. Since it’s a small airport that attracts many visitors to New York, it is challenging to match travel frequency and overcome these issues even after updates.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the check-in procedure at airports?

If you’re traveling for the first time via plane, no worries. The process is straightforward. To verify your identity, you must provide the required documents at the check-in counter.

After successful verification, you can hand over any luggage you don’t want to keep. Now, the officials at the counter will issue you a boarding pass. This pass will include all your travel details, such as Seat Number, Gate Number, Flight Number, and Departure Time.

I’ve often noticed overbooking on airlines. So, is overbooking legal?

Yes, according to federal law, airlines can overbook flights. Airlines often do this in anticipation of passengers “no-showing” on the travel date. They want to ensure that every flight they depart is as full as possible to maximize profits. For example, travel experts say that around 150 tickets are sold for every 100 seats.

However, there are many rules regarding passengers’ compensation if they are bumped from a flight because of overselling.

Which is the highest airport in the world?

Opened in 2013, Daocheng Yading Airport is the world’s highest civilian airport. It is located 4,411 meters above sea level, making it the highest-altitude airport worldwide. The airport is designed to host around 280,000 travelers every year.

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