Where is the world’s most stunning airport landing?

As both pilot and passenger, one of my favourite things about aviation is the chance to see the world from above. With a bigger and higher perspective we can see the world in a whole new way.

I particularly enjoy the last few minutes of a flight when you’re beneath any cloud cover, and the scene below starts to come into clear focus. Every airport landing offers something different, whether mountain views, remote island approaches over the sea, or an iconic cityscape.

Nice Cote D'Azur airport approach

Nice Cote D'Azur was named the world's most stunning airport approach in our 2014 poll

But which airports in the world offer the best view on approach?

Our team at PrivateFly all seem to have a different view on that! So that’s why we put the question out there a few years ago, asking travel and aviation fans to name their favourite airport landing. Last year over 5,000 voters took part in the poll, from all over the world.

And because this is something that seems to divide opinion, we also ask a panel of well-travelled judges to join us in drawing up a shortlist for voters to choose from.

This year our panel includes aviation journalist Benet Wilson; Bill Prince – Deputy Editor of GQ; David Scowsill – President and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC); globetrotter and travel blogger Ana Silva O’Reilly; and luxury travel expert Tiffany Dowd. Each judge has named their top 3 global airport landings, which helped to form the final shortlist for 2015 – a total of 37 of the world’s most stunning places to land. See our judging panel and their airport choices.

Previous winners include Nice Cote D’Azur, St Maarten & the Scottish island of Barra

Amongst the shortlist are winners of the poll in previous years.

In 2014, Nice Cote D’Azur claimed the top spot, with one voters commenting “It is SO beautiful. We fly in over the Alps, spectacular in themselves, and then quite suddenly the Mediterranean sea is before us, along with a view of much of the coastline, including, of course, Nice. The approach into Nice is simply the most beautiful in the world!”

St Maarten airport landing

The landing at St Maarten was voted the winner in 2013

The previous year it was St Maarten, the Caribbean island is famed for its low approach over the sea and beach, one voter commenting that it “literally takes your breath away”.

And in 2012, the tiny Scottish island of Barra received the most votes. The airport is unique, being the only one in the world where scheduled and private charter flights land and take off from a beach (so the runway is washed away every day in high tide). One voter said “Where else in the world can you fly over majestic mountains, stunning coastline and turquoise seas before descending over an historic harbour castle and landing on a large silver sand beach? Totally stunning and totally unique”.

Barra beach landing

Barra's unique beach landing made the top spot in 2012

New Contenders for 2015

While many airports who frequently make the top 10 list of favourite airport landings each year have again made this year’s shortlist, there are a few airports new to the poll that have really made an impression on this year’s judges.

This year, three separate judges picked Las Vegas McCarran airport as their favourite scenic landing. Doug Gollan said that “arriving at night to McCarran airport makes the Las Vegas strip look like some type of miniature recreation. It’s always worth a window seat when you fly there.”

Others picked more remote airports that offer unique views. Chloe Pantazi picked Male International Airport in the Maldives as the top landing airstrip because of “its remote beauty”, while Frédéric Beniada contests that Courchevel Airport in France deserves the top spot due to the view of “magnificent steeply sloping mountains” surrounding you as you land.

Have your say – vote for your favourite airport landing 2015

Will it be one of these, or a different airport that is named the most stunning landing 2015? Let us know your favourite by voting.

You can see which 37 airports made our shortlist and what makes them stunning. Then cast your vote for one of them – or pick your own choice entirely.

We’ll be sharing the results later in the Spring.