Being a pilot is an admirable job, despite the fact that they actually don't get as much praise as they probably should. Sure, people applaud when they land sometimes in the United States, but that's still viewed as a rarity most of the time which is something we want to see change. Alas, we aren't here to talk about seeking justice for pilots, so I'll quickly move on.
Pilots have to go wherever they're told nine times out of ten, meaning that they often have to visit places that they may not particularly enjoy. Some only do a handful of routes throughout the course of their aviation career whereas others quite literally fly around the world, and over time, their experiences have been well documented.
Not everywhere can be viewed as a fun destination to go to as a pilot, and there are some interesting criteria behind that. You've got to take into consideration how safe the landing strip is, how enjoyable the city is itself, and what the airport itself is like. After all, you've got to remember that these pilots are in the air - at least some of them - for half a day at a time.
We aren't trying to scare anyone with this piece, either, because a couple of the negative airports are a bit suspect, so we want to balance it out with some positive locations that will likely put a smile on your face. Either way, though, this is a topic that more people should be talking about, because in the modern age these places should all be pretty much perfect.
20 Afraid: Lukla, Nepal - Like Something From A Film
Lukla Airport is located quite close to Mount Everest, so perhaps there's just a running theme that everything in the general vicinity of Everest needs to provide you with some kind of challenge. That, in truth, is the only reason we can think of as to why such a bizarre landing strip exists.
Every single plane that we've seen land there has seemingly experienced an emergency landing as opposed to a controlled one, and that just can't be safe for anyone. I mean, it's great if you want to film really cool action sequences, but apart from that we aren't interested.
19 LOVE: Cape Town, South Africa - Aerial Wonders
The above shot may be nothing more than a promotional image to some, but it also serves as a sneak peek of what you can expect if you ever fly into Cape Town. It's the central hub for culture, sport and so much more in South Africa, which in itself is a country that has a harsh reputation.
Table Mountain welcomes you in with open arms and that really is a beautiful thing, especially if you're a pilot because these are the moments that make it all worth it. Sure, the flying itself may be quite cool, but you've got to imagine that it wears off after a while.
18 Afraid: Honduras - Toncontin Problems
The above photo of the plane forced to descend to the runway on an angle serves as merely the tip of the iceberg for the difficulty of flying into Honduras, and in particular, Toncontin Airport. Unfortunately, this is one of the most dangerous airports in the world. The country itself has been ravaged by misfortune for years on end now, and it doesn't really seem as if that's going to settle down any time soon.
The landing strip is unbelievably difficult to master and it takes a pretty skilled pilot to land there with minimal problems, which is probably why we've heard so much about different issues going down there over the years.
That's not a knock, either, it's just the truth of the matter. And as you'll see below, many planes don't make it onto the runway at all.
17 LOVE: Naples, Italy - Very Scenic
While we don't really care much for Naples as a city, you could argue that one of the reasons for that is because of the airport. Given the excitement of heading over to Italy you'd expect to be fairly blown away by the views you'll see from the sky when you come into the country, and Naples certainly doesn't disappoint.
If I was a pilot then my first action upon landing would be to travel towards the nearest beach, get a quick drink and a book, and chill out for a few hours. That way, it's hard to be disappointed - but going into the centre of Naples itself is a different story.
16 Afraid: Princess Juliana, Saint Martin - Look Out!
Some of you may think that this image is photoshopped, but we can assure you it's not. Just beyond the beach above is a landing strip for planes to land on in this Caribbean island, and we find that to be just a little bit crazy.
There have been accidents here before and the idea of having to fly over dozens of people at such close range is not something we want to think about. There's no way of 100% guaranteeing your safety which is just baffling, and there's a good chance that if even one little thing goes wrong, you could quite literally take someone's head off.
15 LOVE: Singapore - Absolutely Stunning
Singapore's Changi Airport has been dubbed the best airport in the world by thousands upon thousands of experts, and it's not exactly difficult to understand why. From the free amenities you're given to the stunning views and the amazing experiences you can enjoy, you'll want to arrive four hours early just so you can see everything in all of its glory.
Singapore is a really magical place but it's also incredibly far away from most major cities and countries, which is why pilots will be relieved to know that this is the kind of airport that will allow you to relax after you've been jetting around for god knows how long.
14 Afraid: Gibraltar - A Road Through The Landing Strip
In Gibraltar, there is an actual road in the middle of the landing strip. You know, kind of like when there's a road in the middle of train tracks, except it's about a million times worse.
Gibraltar itself is quite a niche place to visit at the best of times, but we can't imagine people are dying to visit upon a quick Google which informs them of the conditions when you're trying to land.
It's quite a frequent route in the UK so not too many pilots have to be subjected to this, but still, it's got to be a massive pain in the neck.
13 LOVE: Gran Canaria, Spain - Great Views
Gran Canaria is one of the Canary Islands over in Spain, and there are arguments to be made in favour of the idea that it's one of the worst. Even if that's the camp you fall into, though, there's no real denying how gorgeous the descent into the local airport is.
Located on the river, you'll get a great few of the islands - and all the while - you'll feel like you've completely escaped from every day life. When you go on a 'hot' holiday, or a general vacation, you want to get the aura of being in a completely different environment, even if you're just the pilot.
12 Afraid: Newark, United States - Forever Waiting
Aside from having to queue up for god knows how long, Newark is just a fairly miserable place to fly into. In many ways it is New York City's answer for Stansted, in the sense that they're both just such unflattering airports and if you go there frequently then we feel kind of sorry for you.
When you're a pilot you want to experience the thrill of going somewhere exotic, and that isn't exactly a regular occurrence if you're going to Newark. Hell, we'd even argue the complete opposite, by saying that it'd make the majority of pilots feel utterly dejected.
11 LOVE: Christchurch, New Zealand - A New Beginning
New Zealand is the country a lot of pilots go to when they're first 'learning the ropes' so to speak, so naturally, it'll always hold a special place in their hearts. Beyond that, though, especially in Christchurch, you're often met with some of the most spectacular views you're ever likely to see.
Once again we understand if you think we're exaggerating the point but all you need to do is take one good, long look at the mountains in order to see what we're talking about. Sure, you have to travel quite far to get there in most cases, but that's a small price to pay.
10 Afraid: Stansted, England - Not such a pleasant Place
There are two things that Stansted Airport once had going for it: cheap flights, and being able to sleep in the airport overnight. Now that they've removed the second of those two benefits, we're confident in saying that this is one of the most frustrating airports on the planet.
The staff are rude, the facilities aren't ideal, and we'd even argue that it isn't particularly safe. It isn't great for pilots, either, because most of the time they're forced to sit in queues courtesy of the state of air traffic control over there. Trust us, try and get to Gatwick or Heathrow if you can.
9 LOVE: Dubai, United Arab Emirates - First Class Treatment
All pilots should be treated with respect in our book, no matter how much experience they may or may not have. So then, it's pretty good to hear that Dubai Airport makes a big fuss of pilots upon landing/taking off which is always a nice thing for them to experience from time to time.
Sure, the majority of places do that too, but there are levels to this and everyone should be striving to live up to them. After all, these pilots quite literally have our lives in their hands and that's an unsettling prospect, regardless of whether or not you enjoy flying.
Oh, and Dubai Airport is generally very beautiful.
8 Afraid: Sao Paulo, Brazil - Not So Delightful
Sao Paulo Airport is considered to be the best airport in Brazil, which should tell you all you need to know about the country's infrastructure. From their prehistoric regulations to the questionable safety measures being put in place, we'd certainly be wary if we were a pilot flying into Sao Paulo.
Perhaps we're blowing things out of proportion but it really doesn't feel or seem like an airport that is going to be much fun for a pilot, especially if they're in a rush to get a plane straight back out. Maybe a spruce up would help matters. Then again, maybe not.
7 LOVE: Innsbruck, Austria - A Whole New World
Landing in Innsbruck makes you feel like you've arrived in Narnia, and the best part is that it's fairly central so it should never take all too long for you to get there. It's so unbelievably picturesque and that's one of the primary things we look for in a great airport.
Of course, the main attributes stem from the safety regulations that are put in place as well as the amenities, but try and tell us that you wouldn't get on a plane to go here purely for the views. It's at this point that many pilots can sit back and think to themselves "yeah, this is why I do this job".
6 Afraid: Cape Verde - So Very Small
The above airport is the Nelson Mandela Airport in Cape Verde, which is considered to be their main airport for Santiago Island. As you can see, they have the equivalent of what you put up at parties in your garden as protection for the inside of their airport.
I mean, what?
This is just the weirdest place we've ever seen, and Cape Verde as a whole isn't much better. There's barely anything there and while the experience of going certainly gives you a certain appreciation for what you've already got, there are far better options out there.
One plane in, one plane out. How fun.
5 LOVE: Funchal, Madeira - Stunning But Risky
While the landing strip may be quite risky in Madeira, which has landed quite a few entries onto the 'hate' section in this particular article, it's more than worth it.
A lot of pilots like to challenge themselves to an extent and this is probably where they hit their limit, with the sea views often ensuring that you need to keep your absolute focus on what it is you're doing. Then, once you've landed, you're able to sit back and enjoy your body of work whilst also taking in the views themselves.
We could be way off with this one, but that's the vibe we get.
4 Afraid: Orlando, United States - Complaints Central
The majority of folks going in and out of Orlando tend to be visiting all of the Disney parks, which often means that there are plenty of families on board. Now while we don't want to stereotype anyone or anything like that, there tends to be much more disruption on flights of this nature when it comes to complaints.
While the pilots are busy enough as it is, it's still something they'll have to hear about once they eventually land. Plus, on top of that, you've got the stress of the overbearing heat and the (generally) poor organisation of Orlando Airport.
3 LOVE: Beijing, China - A Fascinating Experience
Big and bold.
That's the perfect way to describe the Chinese and everything they seem to have planned over the next few decades and beyond, and that specifically qualifies for their airports. Beijing is one of the busiest cities in the world and they clearly want to make a good impression, both to the passengers travelling in and the pilots themselves.
We're huge fans of Beijing International Airport because they just seem to be so ambitious with everything they do, and that can only lead to great results. If nothing else, the feeling of landing in the East is unlike anything else.
2 Afraid: Damascus, Syria - Obvious Reasons
Damascus is a city in peril and it's been that way for many years now, due to the ongoing conflict in Syria. While you'd think that no airlines whatsoever run out of here there are still a handful of routes, and you've got to feel for some of the pilots in those instances.
The risks involved with heading there are huge, and it's got nothing to do with the airport itself which is the most ironic thing of all. We'd love nothing more than to see everything be resolved over there, but it doesn't seem like that's going to happen anytime soon.
1 LOVE: San Francisco, United States - Golden Gate Heaven
Just look at it.
It's always nice to end lists like this on a positive note, and here we are - in good old San Francisco. From the view of the Golden Gate Bridge to the pleasant nature of the airport itself, there are few things more satisfying than heading over to the West Coast.
San Fran often feels like the classy older brother of Los Angeles, which can only be a good thing given how many negative reviews we've seen for LAX.
So trust your instinct, folks, and book that trip to Cali, because the pilots will be equally as happy to be there as you.