Ten airports you must book a window seat for

Aisle or window? That’s a question I’m sure many of us are familiar with. I’m a big fan of window seats – you’ll know why if you’ve seen any of my Plane Views posts! Whether you’re an aisle or a window person, here are ten airports you’ll want to book a window seat for (arriving, departing or both)… in all cases because of the amazing views but I’ve included two airports for those among us who love the occasional adrenaline rush!

Sydney International (SYD)

Australia’s biggest and busiest airport is also one of the best to fly into. Sydney Kingsford Smith has two parallel runways in a north-south alignment. If you’re landing from a northerly direction or taking off in a northerly direction from these runways, you’ll be treated to amazing views of Sydney Harbour, arguably, one of the most beautiful natural harbours in the world.

sydney-harbour-aerial-view

Aerial view of Sydney after take-off from Kingsford Smith.

Bora Bora, French Polynesia (BOB)

Little more than an airstrip on the outer fringe of the Bora Bora lagoon, BOB boasts one of the most jaw-dropping views anywhere around so make sure you book yourself a window seat flying in and out!

bora-bora-aerial-view-photo

An unforgettable view of Bora Bora after take-off.

Vancouver International (YVR)

If you’re lucky and the weather is clear, YVR offers flyers stunning panoramic views of the Coastal mountains, the Vancouver skyline and the ocean. Look out for the snow-capped Mount Baker!

vancouver-aerial-view-photo

A grand view of Greater Vancouver

Rio de Janeiro Santos Dumont (SDU)

Rio de Janeiro‘s domestic airport a stone’s throw from the city centre offers breathtaking views of the city during any take-off and landing. This is one airport you definitely want to have a window seat for!

aerial-view-rio-de-janeiro-photo

Views of Botafogo Bay and Corcovado mountain (with the Christ the Redeemer statue on the peak).

Juneau, Alaska (JNU)

Juneau, the capital of Alaska, has one of the coolest airports I’ve ever flown into. Approaching from the south, the plane flies low inside a fiord, with steep forest-clad mountains on both sides, before making a sharp bank to the left and landing. As the plane lines up for the final approach, you’ll have terrific views of the amazing glacier in the airport’s backyard!

airport-juneau-alaska-photo

The airport in Juneau with the glacier as a backdrop!

São Paulo Congonhas (CGH)

Congonhas is arguably one of the most notorious airports in the world. It reminds me of Hong Kong’s old Kai Tak airport which required planes to fly in low over the rooftops of buildings on the approach – a true nail-biting landing! Located smack in the middle of one of the world’s largest cities, Congonhas airport is surrounded by a sea of skyscrapers and a web of highways and roads. It also has two relatively short runways with a steep drop-off on both ends. Paulistas love this airport because of its central location. A window seat is a must, especially for the thrill-seekers among us!

Aerial view of Congonhas Airport in Sao Paulo (image courtesy of Fernando Stankuns)

Aerial view of Congonhas Airport in Sao Paulo (image courtesy of Fernando Stankuns)

Hong Kong International (HKG)

The old Hong Kong airport at Kai Tak offered one of the most nail-biting landings anywhere around. Since the opening of the Hong Kong International Airport on Chek Lap Kok island in 1998, landing and taking off in this Asian city is a lot more pleasant. On a clear day, landing at or taking off from HKG can also be a beautiful experience, with fabulous vistas of the Hong Kong skyline, Victoria Harbour and the surrounding islands.

Hong-Kong-International-Airport-photo

Aerial view of HKIA.

Dubai International (DXB)

Dubai’s ambitious projects are best seen from the air, like the skyscrapers of downtown Dubai (including Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building), the Palm Jumeira and Palm Jebel Ali islands and ‘The World’ archipelago. Book a window seat for spectacular views of the city and its amazing structures.

aerial-view-dubai-take-off

Views of Dubai’s ‘The World’ and Palm islands on take-off from DXB (image courtesy of Nico Crisafulli).

Newark, New Jersey (EWR)

Of all the airports serving the greater New York City area, Newark in New Jersey offers perhaps the best views of the Manhattan skyline as its runways are aligned parallel with Manhattan island. You’re in for an unforgettable treat if your flight lands from a northerly direction during sunset on a clear day – the golden colours of the sunset reflecting off the skyscrapers on Manhattan are truly a sight to behold!

View of the Manhattan skyline during a landing at Newark (image courtesy of Blueridge Kitties).

View of the Manhattan skyline during a landing at Newark (image courtesy of Blueridge Kitties).

Saba (SAB)

This tiny island in the Eastern Caribbean just south of Sint Maarten is a favourite diving spot for those in the know. The island of Saba is basically the peak of a volcano jutting out from the sea, with steep forested slopes on all sides and the island’s four villages located on the upper reaches of the volcano.

Saba island (image courtesy of Avalonn).

Saba island (image courtesy of Avalonn).

saba-airport-landing-photo

Landing at the Saba airport – pilot’s view (image courtesy of Rudgr.com)

Getting to Saba is an adventure in itself as the island’s airport boasts the world’s shortest commercial flight runway, at just about 400 meters! In addition, the runway is flanked by steep mountain slopes on one side and cliffs on the other! This is another airport for the thrill-seekers!

Do you know any other airports which offer amazing views during the approach or take-off? Please drop a note in the comments section below.

Tags:

Connect

Follow Velvet Escape on:

80 Responses to “Ten airports you must book a window seat for”

  1. AlainSojourner 04/04/2014 4:02 pm
    #

    You forgot Chicago! :)

  2. OCDemon 23/09/2013 10:51 am
    #

    I was going to say it would be great to see a tiny little nothing runway that’s barely long enough to stop in time, but there it was at the end.

  3. Cynthia 31/08/2013 6:57 pm
    #

    I love flying into San Diego, especially at night since you get the feeling of flying through the skyscrapers and landing by the ocean.

    It saddens me that when you land at Cdg in Paris you don’t get to see the city , only when landing in Orly.

  4. Keith Jenkins 13/08/2013 12:55 pm
    #

    Thanks Beverley! Queenstown for sure! :-)

    Cheers,
    Keith

  5. Beverley | Pack Your Passport 13/08/2013 11:49 am
    #

    My vote goes to Queenstown – you literally fly in between two mountain ranges and you’re also directly over the beautiful Lake Wakatipu. The mountains seem SO close, I got some awesome pictures :-)

  6. Suzette Jones 13/08/2013 7:27 am
    #

    Definitely Funchal airport on Madeira…breathtaking, and a little bit scary!

  7. Keith Jenkins 13/08/2013 12:00 am
    #

    Hi Helen,
    Thanks! I’ve featured the Vic Falls in one of my Plane Views posts. See: http://velvetescape.com/2012/10/aerial-view-victoria-falls/
    Amazing views!

    Cheers,
    Keith

  8. Keith Jenkins 12/08/2013 11:59 pm
    #

    Great tip Angela! I’ve flown into Seattle several times and the views are pretty awesome on a clear day! Thanks! One of the posts in my Plane Views series features a flight from Vancouver to Portland OR.

    Cheers,
    Keith

  9. Helen 12/08/2013 11:56 pm
    #

    Livingstone, Zambia! On the left side is usually best for views of Victoria Falls, but you may catch it on both sides!

  10. Angela 12/08/2013 11:53 pm
    #

    What about Seattle? All the snow-capped volcanoes on a clear day is a must!

  11. Keith Jenkins 05/08/2013 10:01 am
    #

    I’ve covered Barcelona in a previous post. See: http://velvetescape.com/2011/07/plane-views-barcelona/

    Cheers,
    Keith

  12. Hostel Barcelona 05/08/2013 9:51 am
    #

    And what about the Barcelona airport? With the sagrada familia and the W hotel! :D

  13. Katia Nunes 13/07/2013 2:39 am
    #

    Hi, how are u?
    I would like to add to the list the Madeira Island Airport, in Portugal. Its amazing!!

  14. Madeline 11/07/2013 7:58 pm
    #

    I was glad to see Hong Kong on your list! I used to fly to HK frequently and would also always try to book a seat on the right side for landing and the left side of the plane for taking off (I hope I’m remembering that right and not backwards) in order to spot the big Buddha!

  15. Keith Jenkins 10/07/2013 2:46 pm
    #

    Thanks Clare! Will keep my eye out for that one! :-)

  16. Clare Appleyard 10/07/2013 10:56 am
    #

    If you get a pilot that banks over False Bay during take-off, Cape Town International has some great views too :-)

  17. miaa 05/07/2013 12:43 pm
    #

    stunning and amazing captures.. thanks

  18. India Food Tour 30/06/2013 8:59 pm
    #

    Bora Bora looks awesome. Would love to be there. Saba on the other hand, I’d rather prefer a helicopter

  19. Aiko 27/06/2013 1:45 pm
    #

    I would definitely add in a “vote” for Geneva, especially on arrival. Make sure to have a window seat on the left side of the plane. Too bad I don’t have a pic, always to busy being mesmerized!

  20. Sharon 26/06/2013 10:25 am
    #

    Sao Paulo definitely had one of the most gorgeous views I’ve ever seen from an airplane window. The fact that it is such a gigantic city is mind-blowing.
    My hometown Geneva, Switzerland, also has a great view when landing at the airport. You get to see the gorgeous lake and the snow-capped Alps upon arrival. It always puts a smile on my face coming back home; I’m lucky to live in such a beautiful city.
    - Sharon

  21. Jennifer 25/06/2013 5:35 pm
    #

    These are great! I’ve visited Saba and even the airport, but didn’t fly to the island. We took the ferry from Sint Martin.

  22. Keith Jenkins 24/06/2013 11:20 am
    #

    Wowee, sounds fab Kathryn! Thanks for sharing. :-)

    Cheers,
    Keith

  23. Rambow from Romancing The Planet 24/06/2013 5:21 am
    #

    Paro Airport in Bhutan is spectacularly set among the Himalayas.

  24. Kathryn 22/06/2013 10:22 pm
    #

    My absolute favorite airport was the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal. Sit on the left on the flight from Delhi. If it’s foggy, you’ll view precarious farms, cute homes, and mountainous villages. If it’s clear, you’ll see magnificent snowy peaks peeking above the clouds. I couldn’t tear my eyes away!

  25. Rok_S 21/06/2013 9:33 am
    #

    Funchal Madeira island is very interesting.

  26. Instamojo 20/06/2013 4:19 pm
    #

    Also add lukla airport to the list – http://www.imnothome.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Lukla-airport-3.jpg

  27. Nat 20/06/2013 3:14 pm
    #

    I second Queenstown, NZ – one of my favourites! But Sydney ALWAYS makes me smile.

  28. Keith Jenkins 20/06/2013 10:01 am
    #

    Hi Mike,
    I was at TBEX – sorry we missed each other.
    With regards to Kai Tak, does this sound familiar? => http://velvetescape.com/2009/03/nail-biting-landings/ ;-)

    Cheers,
    Keith

  29. Keith Jenkins 20/06/2013 9:59 am
    #

    Wow, a plane view fanatic just like me. Glad that you enjoyed the article – I’ve had a great time reading all the comments too. :-) Thanks for Lhasa story. Very cool! Oh yes, one other airport you should look into is the Princess Juliana Airport on the Caribbean island of Sint Maarten. At this airport, all the fun & thrills happens on the ground though! Check it out: http://velvetescape.com/2010/06/a-beach-for-thrill-seekers/

    Cheers,
    Keith

  30. Keith Jenkins 20/06/2013 9:54 am
    #

    Hi Fiona,
    It’s my favourite London airport and I use it whenever possible. Love the nose-dive landing and the slingshot take-offs! I wrote a post about London City a while back with some photos: http://velvetescape.com/2009/11/plane-views-london-city-airport/ Love the airport – though the residents in the area have a different opinion. ;-)

    Cheers,
    Keith

  31. Fiona Maclean 20/06/2013 12:14 am
    #

    City Airport London. The planes seem to take off and land using the Thames as a runway;) Sorry – no pic, but well worth checking out

  32. Pandora 19/06/2013 9:00 pm
    #

    @ Sathyan’s suggestion of Kushok Bakula Rimpoche airport. Leh. Ladakh. India, reminded me of the work-related trip I took to Lhasa Gonggar airport (LXA) in 1985. We came in on a 707 from Chengdu and approached down a long valley, then banked left into another valley. Breath-taking view of Mt. Ev and other high peaks. At that time the airport had no refueling facilities so the aircraft had to deadhead back to Chengdu to refuel. Since aircraft typically pressurize the cabin to ~10,000 feet, and since the airport is nearly 12,000 feet above sea level, you could feel the whoosh of the air when the door was opened. Here is the airport’s home page. http://www.travelchinaguide.com/cityguides/tibet/lhasa/airport.htm I especially like the line describing the aircraft that can be accommodated: “…the longest runway in China, which can handle many large types of big aircrafts…”

    BTW, I really appreciated the article, Keith, and especially the myriad responses. I’ve spent the morning googling these airports and have had an enjoyable time of it. Thanks everyone!

  33. Mike (Nomadic Texan) 19/06/2013 2:57 pm
    #

    Keith,
    Sorry we didn’t get to meet in Canada when I was at #TBEX and you were in Quebec I believe. You mentioned the old Kai Tak airport at Hong Kong. I was a buyer at Six Flags for several years and would always sweat this landing. It literally was a nail biter for me and would scare me to death everytime we landed. Hong Kong itself on the other han,d was one of my favorite stops! Safe Travel y Saludos!
    Mike

  34. Keith Jenkins 19/06/2013 11:50 am
    #

    Thanks Mo! It looks beautiful!

    Cheers,
    Keith

  35. Mo 19/06/2013 10:48 am
    #

    Maldives in the Indian Ocean. http://www.globeimages.net/img-maldives-from-the-air-11829.htm

  36. Keith Jenkins 19/06/2013 10:10 am
    #

    Hi Jane,
    I agree with you – Innsbruck is pretty spectacular. One of my Plane Views posts features Innsbruck: http://velvetescape.com/2011/09/aerial-views-alps-innsbruck/ Love the approach through the Alps! :-)

    Cheers,
    Keith

  37. Keith Jenkins 19/06/2013 10:08 am
    #

    Thanks for the tips Alberto! :-)

  38. Keith Jenkins 19/06/2013 10:07 am
    #

    Hi Timothy,
    They say it’s the shortest in the world, along with the runway at Lukla in the Himalayas. Crazy!

    Cheers,
    Keith

  39. Keith Jenkins 19/06/2013 10:06 am
    #

    Thanks Nita for the suggestions! Quite a few tips coming in for northern India and Nepal. :-)

  40. Keith Jenkins 19/06/2013 10:06 am
    #

    Hi Alan,
    Yup, Venice is a good one. I’ve flown once into it but did a post about it when I flew past it one day. I agree, from above, you can definitely see that it looks like a fish! See: http://velvetescape.com/2010/01/plane-views-venice-italy/

    Cheers,
    Keith

  41. Keith Jenkins 19/06/2013 10:04 am
    #

    Hello Vishai,
    Thanks for the tip. Whoa, Lukla is definitely for the thrill-seekers! Looks like the spot where the opening scene of one of the James Bond movies (Goldeneye?) was filmed.

    Cheers,
    Keith

  42. Keith Jenkins 19/06/2013 9:56 am
    #

    Sounds AWESOME! Thanks for the tip! :-)

  43. Keith Jenkins 19/06/2013 9:55 am
    #

    Hi Gary,
    Yup, PDX is another excellent candidate. One of my favourite routes is YVR-PDX when you get to see the row of awesome snow-capped volcanoes (Baker, Rainier, St. Helens & Hood). My first Plane Views post featured this route: http://velvetescape.com/2009/04/plane-views/

    Cheers,
    Keith

  44. Keith Jenkins 19/06/2013 9:53 am
    #

    Thanks Kevin. Many people have mentioned CPT. I’ve flown in quite a few times but to/from Europe, I’ve only landed/departed at night. :-( That said, the first time I visited CPT, the plane approached the airport from the south and the view of the floodlit Table Mountain was incredible. I’ll never forget that sight!

    Cheers,
    Keith

  45. Keith Jenkins 19/06/2013 9:51 am
    #

    Hi Pierfranci,

    Thanks for your tips. I actually have posts on Venice and Naples in my Plane Views series. Hope you like them:
    http://velvetescape.com/2010/01/plane-views-venice-italy/ (Venice)
    http://velvetescape.com/2009/10/plane-views-mt-vesuvius-italy/ (Naples)

    Best regards,
    Keith

  46. Keith Jenkins 19/06/2013 9:48 am
    #

    Hi Nico,
    Hope all’s well with you. Thanks for your lovely comment and the fab Dubai pic! :-) I should do a follow-up post and include all these awesome suggestions. :-)

    Cheers,
    Keith

  47. Keith Jenkins 19/06/2013 9:47 am
    #

    Thanks Francesca! I have a post about flying past Venice (and you can really see that it looks like a fish from above!): http://velvetescape.com/2010/01/plane-views-venice-italy/

    Cheers,
    Keith

  48. Keith Jenkins 19/06/2013 9:45 am
    #

    Hi Margaret,
    Yup, Singapore is a decent candidate – flown in many times. However, if I were to pick one airport in the region, I would pick Phuket, especially if you’re flying in from Bangkok. The views of the strange, dragon-like limestone formations both on land and in the sea are so surreal, then some gorgeous beaches. From the south, you’ll fly past the beautiful islands of Koh Phi Phi.

    Cheers,
    Keith

  49. Keith Jenkins 19/06/2013 9:42 am
    #

    Thanks for the SFO tip and the beautiful description! :-)

  50. JWHarding 19/06/2013 6:27 am
    #

    Christmas Island. Indian Ocean off NW Australia.

  51. Pandora 19/06/2013 5:45 am
    #

    SFO taking off toward the Pacific in a 747 you barely graze Mt. San Bruno, then the view of the G G bridge, especially if the fog is in and just the towers are showing. Landing, coming in from the north, going almost the length of the Bay with the speed brakes deployed for a quick descent, then a 180 for a nice glide up the Bay, watching both the Peninsula on the left and the East Bay on the right, inches above the whitecaps, then *Boom* the wheels touch down. Priceless!

  52. Geoff 19/06/2013 3:06 am
    #

    In New Zealand Queenstown airport is terrific with mountains and lakes alongside the window.

    In Nepal sit on the left hand side of the plane to keep an eye on Mt Everest as you fly into Lukla. Exciting.

    In Fiji the flight into Taveuni Island is spectacular.

  53. Margaret Toronto 19/06/2013 12:44 am
    #

    Flying into SIngapore is interesting: if coming from NA you’re flying over Malaysia’s green farms/bush then its industry/pollution, if coming from Bangkok the planes often circle over Indonesia which often means a lot of smoke (bush burns), pollution but many tiny islands. Both approaches done quite low so you can get a real look at both countries topography, farms, industries, etc

  54. Eman 19/06/2013 12:23 am
    #

    Lisbon portugal!

  55. Francesca Caregnato 19/06/2013 12:22 am
    #

    Check the Venice Airport in Italy!!! The view while landing is BREATH TAKING!! :) Greetings

  56. Nico 19/06/2013 12:18 am
    #

    Two that I love: my native San Francisco – the flight path comes in directly over the city giving superb views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, downtown, et al. Makes flying home so welcoming.

    Flying into London’s pretty great as well, showing everyone on the right side of the plane all the downtown sights.

    And I agree with Russ that Cuzco is amazing, the way they bank over the mountains on the final approach is hair raising!

    Cool post, Keith. Thanks.

  57. pierfranci 18/06/2013 10:06 pm
    #

    venice marco polo
    right side
    daylight

    naples capodichino
    when arriving from west/sea
    right side

  58. Kevin 18/06/2013 8:40 pm
    #

    Of course, approach into Cape Town is spectacular!

  59. Gary Dee, Portland, Oregon 18/06/2013 7:21 pm
    #

    Flying into PDX (Portland, Oregon) westbound on the left (port) side, or leaving eastbound on the right (starboard) side, to get an awesome fly-by of Mount Hood …

  60. sathyan 18/06/2013 6:35 pm
    #

    Kushok Bakula Rimpoche airport. Leh. Ladakh. India – the flight from Delhi crosses the lower Himalayas, banks and lands at the airstrip in the Leh valley sandwiched between the Karakoram and Ladakh mountain ranges.

  61. Vishal 18/06/2013 5:15 pm
    #

    Lukla airport, Nepal…..crazy! http://youtu.be/Y14LkCJd7-4

  62. Montreal is also a great place to book a window seat, especially on the left-hand side of the plane. It’s nice to see the Olympic Tower, the skyscrapers of downtown and the hundreds of perfectly square-shaped city blocks. Love it!

  63. Alan Zisman 18/06/2013 4:13 pm
    #

    Marco Polo Airport – Venice. See that islands making Venice really DO look like a fish!

  64. Nita 18/06/2013 4:13 pm
    #

    Stunning and amazing captures!

    Gotta add the Leh Airport in Jammu and Kashmir, India.. Landing in between the mountains – Surreal :)

  65. Timothy W Pawiro 18/06/2013 3:59 pm
    #

    Love the aerial view of Congonhas …

    And the runway on Saba island seems really short? :o)))

  66. Nicci Moffat 18/06/2013 3:56 pm
    #

    .Cape Town! And Hong Kong ís pretty spectacular

  67. eva 18/06/2013 2:35 pm
    #

    Marseille!

  68. Alain Bovard 18/06/2013 2:06 pm
    #

    Labuanbajo (Flores Island, Indonesia) is a must for both the thrill and the beautiful scenery.

  69. Alberto 18/06/2013 2:05 pm
    #

    Just to name a few:

    San Francisco airport
    Vigo (Spain)
    San Pedro (Belize)
    Mexico City
    Managua (nicaragua)

    Cheers

  70. Jane 18/06/2013 2:03 pm
    #

    Innsbruck is a great one as the approach is a very steep dive at the last minute due to mountains that surround it!

  71. Keith Jenkins 18/06/2013 1:59 pm
    #

    Thanks Russ! Yup, good ones. I actually have a post about the flight from Santiago to Punta Arenas: http://velvetescape.com/2009/05/plane-views-santiago-to-punta-arenas/ Awesome flight!

    Cheers,
    Keith

  72. Russ 18/06/2013 1:57 pm
    #

    Quito (Mariscal Sucre) in Ecuador
    Cusco, Peru
    Santiago, Chile

    are all rippers

  73. Keith Jenkins 18/06/2013 1:48 pm
    #

    Thanks Andrea! :-)

  74. theoliane 18/06/2013 1:30 pm
    #

    Las Vegas by night ! Incredible !

  75. Andrea 18/06/2013 1:30 pm
    #

    May I humbly submit Paro International Airport, Bhutan?
    video and pix: http://www.greentea.tk/2009/11/bhutan-getting-to-paro.html

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 40 Imagens espetaculares mostrando o mundo por uma janela de avião | Tudo Interessante | Curiosidades, Imagens e Vídeos interessantes - 14/02/2014

    […] Foto: velvetescape […]

  2. Friday Roundup: September 20, 2013 | Eclectic Travel Girl - 20/09/2013

    […] Best airport approach views! I’ve only flown into Santos Dumont and Newark on this list. I 100% agree with SDU and the stunning views of Rio being on the list, but have to say I think the approach down the Hudson (or is it East) river into LaGuardia is better! […]

  3. Pics of the week - June 24 - 24/06/2013

    [...] Ten airports you must book a window seat for – VelvetEscape.com [...]

  4. LandLopers Picks of the Week - 22/06/2013

    [...] Book a window seat if you’re flying into these airports! [...]

  5. Ana Mayer-Kansky, prva doktorica znanosti na slovenski univerzi - 20/06/2013

    [...] Ten airports you must book a window seat for – velvet escape [...]

Leave a Reply

css.php