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.
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! Read more about my visit to Bora Bora.
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! Read more about things to do in 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! Read about my visit to Rio de Janeiro.
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! Read about my Alaska cruise.
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. 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!
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.
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.
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! If you’re flying into JFK or La Guardia, book a window seat anyway!
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.
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.