14 of the World’s Most Extreme Airports

Aug 8, 2016

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From the hottest to the coldest, from the airport at the highest altitude to one located at 1,240 feet below sea level, these are the 14 most exceptional airports in the world.

1. The World’s Hottest Airport

Kuwait International Airport (KWI), located in the Arabian Desert, is considered to be the hottest airport in the world, with temperatures regularly reaching up to 113˚F during the summer. In fact, The Daily Mail recently reported that Kuwait experienced its hottest recorded temperature, a searing 129.2˚F this July.

Kuwait City has some of the hottest temperatures on earth. Image courtesy of <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-195743102/stock-photo-kuwait-cityscape-during-the-sunset.html?src=cwNp95BAFki5KYFvSobPVQ-1-6" target="_blank">Shutterstock</a>.
Kuwait City is home to some of the hottest temperatures on earth. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

2. The World’s Coldest Airport

Yakutsk Airport (YKS), located in Russia’s Siberian Tundra, is consistently the coldest airport in the world, with temperatures regularly reaching -40˚F during the winter — it’s so cold that planes sometimes even have to be de-iced during the summer. Just outside Yakutsk, the Yana River basin holds the record for the coldest recorded temperature on earth outside Antartica, clocking in at a brisk -83.9˚F.

Yakutsk is a frozen tundra most of the year. Image courtesy of <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-349092833/stock-photo-winter-urban-landscape-with-a-lake-on-a-clear-day.html?src=xyTDELuVUND8QmzbTNiIUQ-1-3" target="_blank">Shutterstock</a>.
Yakutsk is home to the coldest temperatures on earth outside Antarctica. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

3. Airport With the Highest Altitude

Located in the Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Daocheng Yading Airport (DCY) is the highest airport in the world at 14,472 feet, high in the mountains of the Tibetan Plateau.

Daocheng airport in China. Image courtesy of <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-440307106/stock-photo-daocheng-china-october-daocheng-yading-airport-is-the-world-s-highest-civilian.html?src=iIvldX9cj3j4W_pj-tycTg-1-0" target="_blank">Shutterstock</a>.
Daocheng Yading Airport, the highest in the world at 14,472 feet. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

4. Airport With the Lowest Altitude

Bar Yehuda Airfield (MTZ) in Israel is located at a whopping 1,240 feet below sea leveljust a few miles from Masada National Park and not far from the Dead Sea.

Bar Yehudi is located along the Dead Sea in Israel just a few miles from Massada. Image courtesy of <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-87120142/stock-photo-view-of-dead-sea-coastline.html?src=Xsw25dVvU3j4OwADlEypsQ-1-0" target="_blank">Shutterstock</a>.
Bar Yehuda is located near the Dead Sea in Israel. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

5. The World’s Busiest Airport

Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) maintains its status as the busiest airport in the world, having served more than 100 million passengers in 2015 — that’s roughly 11.5 million more than the runner up, Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK).

Atlanta is the busiest airport in the world. Image courtesy of <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-314376227/stock-photo-atlanta-georgia-august-aerial-view-of-hartsfield-jackson-atlanta-international-airport.html?src=qr6dAKZhZLdw4xDdY5KU4w-1-1" target="_blank">Shutterstock</a>.
ATL is the busiest airport in the world. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

6. Airport With the Shortest Commercial Runway

Located on the Dutch Caribbean island of Saba, Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport (SAB) is home to the shortest commercial airport runway in the world at just 1,312 feet.

Saba airport provides for a thrilling landing. Image courtesy of <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-171422507/stock-photo-saba-island-with-airport.html?src=QejFgUvfHixAV4d-RYfqFA-1-0" target="_blank">Shutterstock</a>.
Saba’s short airstrip makes for a thrilling landing. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

7. Airport With the Longest Commercial Runway

Qamdo Bamda Airport (BPX) in Tibet, China, has the longest runway of any commercial airport in the world — at 18,045 feet, you could line up 50 American Football fields end to end and the runway would still be longer! The airport is situated at 14,219 feet above sea level, making takeoff even more difficult than usual.

Satellite Imagery of Qamdo Bamda Airport (BPX) in Tibet, China, courtesy of Google.
Satellite imagery of Qamdo Bamda Airport (BPX) in Tibet, China. Image courtesy of Google.

8. The Most Remote Airport

Easter Island’s Mataveri International Airport (IPC) takes the title of the world’s most remote airport, served only by LAN from Santiago (SCL) and Papeete (PPT), with seasonal flights from Lima (LIM). Just how remote is it? The island is located 2,334 miles west of Santiago and 4,248 miles east of Papeete, Tahiti.

Easter Island is home to many mysterious-yet-majestic Moai statues. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

9. The Airport With the Most Delays

Chinese airports are notoriously delayed, and Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport (HGH) is no exception, with a dismal on-time performance rate of just 41%. Beijing (PEK) and Shanghai (PVG) are pretty bad, too, with on-time rates of 64% and 52%, respectively. The cause of all this? The majority of China’s airspace is used for military operations, so the skies are nice and crowded.

China's airports are very modern but perpetually delayed. Image courtesy of <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/downloading_tips.mhtml?code=&amp;id=410924290&amp;size=medium&amp;image_format=jpg&amp;method=download&amp;super_url=http%3A%2F%2Fdownload.shutterstock.com%2Fgatekeeper%2FW3siZSI6MTQ2OTg2NjU0NSwiYyI6Il9waG90b19zZXNzaW9uX2lkIiwiZGMiOiJpZGxfNDEwOTI0MjkwIiwiayI6InBob3RvLzQxMDkyNDI5MC9tZWRpdW0uanBnIiwibSI6IjEiLCJkIjoic2h1dHRlcnN0b2NrLW1lZGlhIn0sIlNDQSsrb05WVTZ0ZStYYzZzaVBUV09aOFVLZyJd%2Fshutterstock_410924290.jpg&amp;racksite_id=ny&amp;chosen_subscription=1&amp;license=standard&amp;src=qIoA3dBE21o6zUNSt0xL1g-1-22">Shutterstock</a>.
China’s airports are very modern but perpetually delayed. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

10. The Most Punctual Airport(s)

A stark contrast to China’s airports, Tokyo’s Haneda airport (HND) is the most punctual large airport in the world, with 91.25% of its flights departing on time, while Osaka International Airport (ITM) has the best on-time performance among smaller airports, with a rate of 93.85%.

JAL and ANA both operate hubs at HND, the most punctual large airport in the world. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

11. The Northernmost Airport in the World

Svalbard Airport, Longyear (LYR) holds the title for the northernmost airport in the world. The Norwegian archipelago was once a Russian coal-mining outpost; nowadays, it serves as the starting point for North Pole expeditions.

Svalbard is the starting point for North Pole adventures and a great place to see the Northern Lights. Image courtesy of <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-240621760/stock-photo-beautiful-aurora-borealis-spitsbergen-svalbard.html?src=FTJirNoG4_JWPF5FeQivfA-1-0" target="_blank">Shutterstock</a>.
Svalbard is often used as the starting point for North Pole trips and is a great place to see the Northern Lights. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

12. The Southernmost Airport in the World

Located in Argentina’s scenic Tierra del Fuego Province, Malvinas Argentinas Ushuaia International Airport (USH) is the southernmost commercial airport in the world. The area is home to spectacular natural scenery and is a good spot to catch a ride to Antarctica if that’s been on your bucket list.

Ushuaia Airport is located in Argentina's Tierra Del Fuego. Image Courtesy of <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-157624349/stock-photo-a-view-of-the-airport-of-ushuaia-tierra-del-fuego-boats-line-t.html?src=1X16sNxzzAu2KuspLpqqkQ-1-0" target="_blank">Shutterstock</a>.
Enjoy beautiful mountain views from Ushuaia’s airport, located at the bottom of Argentina. Image Courtesy of Shutterstock.

13. The Airport With the Largest Runway Gradient

Courchevel Altiport (CVF) in the French Alps serves a ski resort by the same name and offers one of the most treacherous approaches for pilots — a gradient of just 18.6% and a runway that’s only 1,762 feet long. Adventurous types can practically ski downhill directly to the tarmac, as seen in the photo below.

The alps make for a tricky approach into Courchevel Airport. Image courtesy of <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-415814533/stock-photo-courchevel-valleys-trois-vallees-savoie-french-alps-france-december-skiers.html?src=xKRmdR12XO65mSMVKln9Iw-1-0" target="_blank">Shutterstock</a>.
The French Alps make for a tricky approach into Courchevel Airport. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

14. The Airport With the Shortest Distance from a Public Viewing Area

Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) in Saint Martin is famous for its thrilling landings — for both passengers and folks lounging on nearby beaches. Grab your camera and wait by Maho Beach directly outside the airport for a unique landing experience and to get a photo like this:

A KLM 747 on final approach into SXM, as seen from Maho Beach in Saint Martin. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Have you been to any of these airports? Tell us about your experience, below.

Featured image of Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport courtesy of Shutterstock.

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