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  #1  
Old Posted Jan 19, 2019, 7:12 AM
JAYNYC JAYNYC is offline
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5 Most Impressive U.S. Airport Final Approach Views

Assuming you prefer a window seat to the middle or aisle, which 5 U.S. airports offer the most impressive final approach view?

For example, although Atlanta and Denver are large cities,I find the final approach view into ATL and DEN to be disappointing, due in large part to the location of those airports in their respective city (ATL being on the relatively underdeveloped south side, DEN 25 miles north east of the downtown core).

In contrast, I have never been disappointed by the East to West approach into LAX, one featuring a gradual suburban to urban sprawl that essentially begins in Palm Springs, 125 miles from LAX. And, although most here are likely aware, it should be noted that the view on the LAX East to West approach is improved substantially by nabbing a window seat on the plane's starboard side, enabling one to not only take in views of the entire Inland Empire region and frequently gridlocked massive freeway interchanges, but also breathtaking views of the (often snow-capped) San Gabriel Mountains, an impressive view of the ever-evolving DTLA skyline (looks amazing night OR daytime,) and a spot on birds eye view of the super-dense cityscape (South Central, Koreatown, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Century City, Westwood, Culver City) between downtown and the coastal areas of Santa Monica, Venice and Marina del Rey). Regardless of which side of the plane you're on, that final approach gives an incredible perspective on the city and region before you ever touchdown.

1. LAX (Los Angeles International Airport - Los Angeles/Westchester, CA) for reasons cited above.

2. LAS (McCarran International Airport - Las Vegas, NV) the airport sits literally on the western edge of the Las Vegas Strip; similar to the LAX approach, it's impressive day or night).

3. MDW (Midway International Airport - Chicago, IL) similar to the LAX approach, this view is substantially enhanced by sitting starboard side, giving one a spectacular bird's eye view of Lake Michigan and the gargantuan Chicago Loop skyline as the airport sits just southwest of downtown.

4. DAL (Dallas Love Field - Dallas, TX) similar to MDW (but with less "oh shit!" factor), the final approach into DAL provides insane views of the city's downtown (and, in this case, Uptown) towers, Central Expressway, Park Cities and its overall most dense urban fabric. The proximity of DAL to downtown Dallas (a mere 6 miles) makes for a rather impressive landing.

5. LGA & SFO tie (LaGuardia Airport - New York/Queens, NY and San Francisco International Airport - San Francisco/Burlingame, CA) both offer a mix of impressive water & urban views; the drawback in both cases is that generally speaking, depending on which direction you're landing from, you do not fly directly over either city's downtown.

Honorable Mention: SAN (San Diego International Airport - San Diego, CA) based primarily on its proximity to downtown and urban core.

Last edited by JAYNYC; Jan 19, 2019 at 7:26 AM.
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  #2  
Old Posted Jan 19, 2019, 7:31 AM
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Originally Posted by JAYNYC View Post
5. LGA & SFO tie (LaGuardia Airport - New York/Queens, NY and San Francisco International Airport - San Francisco/Burlingame, CA) . . . . you do not fly directly over either city's downtown.
Thank G*d. That's where I live. I don't want hundreds of planes zooming above me every day. The frequent news and traffic copters are bad enough.
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  #3  
Old Posted Jan 19, 2019, 12:34 PM
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I like the approach flying into SEA personally. That was the first time I saw the Space Needle up close (sort of). By chance I happened to be looking at the right area and happened to catch the Needle, Puget Sound, and the rest of the skyline as we were on approach into Sea-Tac.

Philadelphia also offers an intriguing approach. If you're on approach from the east you either get a good view of Center City or you're looking at the Delaware River. If you didn't know any better, you'd think you're going to be landing in the river.

Sorry I'm only able to provide two of them. I don't fly too often to too many places.
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  #4  
Old Posted Jan 19, 2019, 4:31 PM
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Midway has alway stuck out one of my faves. The first time you fly in is almost unsettling because it feels like you are right above residential neighbourhoods almost right until landing. Plus awesome views of downtown if you are on the correct side of the plane.

Only flown into Philly once but lucked out and came in from the east and was sitting on the right side of the plane so got amazing views of the city.

Never had good luck with any of the New York airports, unfortunately. Ditto San Francisco.

Toronto City Centre airport also has an amazing approach if you are coming in from the east and sitting on the right hand side of the plane. The approach is just off the lakeshore so you can see the entire city culminating with the downtown skyline.
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  #5  
Old Posted Jan 19, 2019, 4:57 PM
Buckeye Native 001 Buckeye Native 001 is offline
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Landing from the west at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport.

Landing in San Diego.
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  #6  
Old Posted Jan 19, 2019, 5:33 PM
iheartthed iheartthed is offline
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Originally Posted by JAYNYC View Post
5. LGA & SFO tie (LaGuardia Airport - New York/Queens, NY and San Francisco International Airport - San Francisco/Burlingame, CA) both offer a mix of impressive water & urban views; the drawback in both cases is that generally speaking, depending on which direction you're landing from, you do not fly directly over either city's downtown.
This isn't entirely true for LGA, and depends on the wind direction that day, which will determine the runway that is used for landing. One of the approaches requires planes to come across NJ and down around Jersey City, then up directly over Manhattan, and U-turn above the Bronx, Westchester County, and Connecticut to land at LGA over Rikers Island. There is always just one runway for takeoff and one for landing at LGA.
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  #7  
Old Posted Jan 19, 2019, 5:39 PM
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Atlanta approach, if you're on the skyline side of the jet (right side westbound, left side eastbound) can be spectacular, especially if the air is clear and you see not only downtown and Midtown but also Buckhead, Perimeter Center, Cumberland, and the north Georgia mountains. I travel frequently and nationwide. People crane their necks to get views in the usual suspects, New York, Chicago, etc., and also Atlanta, especially if the air is clear and weather is cooperating.

I love coming into LaGuardia over the water and Midway in Chicago, because they both seem so dangerous. When you travel as much as I do, it becomes tedious and anything that adds excitement is welcome. Also nothing beats clear views of Manhattan, coming into any of the big three airports, if you're lucky enough to catch a glimpse.
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  #8  
Old Posted Jan 19, 2019, 5:47 PM
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Boston Logan has really good takeoff and landing views, since the airport is so close to downtown.

Charlotte also has very good views from the runway when taking off, especially after sunset.
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  #9  
Old Posted Jan 19, 2019, 6:25 PM
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Great list.. I agree fully.
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  #10  
Old Posted Jan 19, 2019, 6:37 PM
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San Diego and Boston are pretty incredible, with close-up views of their downtowns.
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  #11  
Old Posted Jan 19, 2019, 6:58 PM
Car(e)-Free LA Car(e)-Free LA is offline
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1. LAX from the East: City, mountains, skysceapers
2. SFO from the Northwest: Golden gate, downtown, mountains, parks, water
3. SNA from the Northwest: you circle the entire LA basin along the water from Malibu to Newport Beach
4. DCA from the north: Capital views
5. SEA from the north: bay, mountains, downtown

Honorable mentions: SAN, MIA from the East, PDX from the East, HNL, SBA
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  #12  
Old Posted Jan 19, 2019, 8:02 PM
austlar1 austlar1 is offline
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LAX for all the obvious reasons. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpA3ORYlgGs

SAN for the thrill of it all. You can almost peek into apartment windows as you glide down the slope to the single runway. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B013diURAxg

DAL (Love Field) sometimes has great views (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqROs-ZBIx4) depending on the approach.

DCA (National/Reagan) with a window seat on the left side of the plane for a stunning view of monumental Washington during an approach from the west/northwest along the Potomac. The plane has to fly along the contours of the river and avoid passing directly over DC or the Pentagon (on the right side of plane) during the approach. It is quite a ride. Video shows daytime cockpit view of this approach. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zco3XlYt6Ko

LGA is always pretty interesting with lots of twists and turns. It helps if there is a good view of Manhattan as part of the approach. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wd-qo5wQN2o

LAS just because it is always such a surprise to find your plane landing right next to the Las Vegas Strip, a surreal experience for a surreal place. Video is of a bumpy landing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBVjxRhpwkA

SFO, OAK, BOS, and PHX are pretty sweet too.

Last edited by austlar1; Jan 19, 2019 at 11:29 PM.
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  #13  
Old Posted Jan 19, 2019, 8:10 PM
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Las Vegas can be pretty spectacular also, especially if flying from the east, hours over the midwestern plains, then, bam, the mountains, then seemingly from out of nowhere, this explosion of neon.
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  #14  
Old Posted Jan 19, 2019, 8:18 PM
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i’ve flown in to LGA during a snowstorm and remember practically making eye contact with pedestrians in queens when the rooftops suddenly emerged from the whiteout. thats the winner for me. maybe the pollution deck of shanghai on approach or takeoff...the gleaming half-mile tall towers rising above it like this blade runner thing.
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  #15  
Old Posted Jan 19, 2019, 8:51 PM
iheartthed iheartthed is offline
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Originally Posted by Centropolis View Post
i’ve flown in to LGA during a snowstorm and remember practically making eye contact with pedestrians in queens when the rooftops suddenly emerged from the whiteout.
This is my favorite approach to LGA. There are about 5 - 10 seconds between when you see the Home Depot parking lot and when the plane touches the runway. On a clear day it gives you the best views of Manhattan from the left side of the plane, but it seems like they choose this runway configuration more when the weather is bad.
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  #16  
Old Posted Jan 19, 2019, 10:38 PM
JAYNYC JAYNYC is offline
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Originally Posted by Pedestrian View Post
Thank G*d. That's where I live. I don't want hundreds of planes zooming above me every day. The frequent news and traffic copters are bad enough.
Yeah, neither would I. Couldn't imagine living in Inglewood/Westchester or Playa del Rey, CA, either, with the nonstop insane air traffic into and out of LAX.
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  #17  
Old Posted Jan 19, 2019, 10:41 PM
JAYNYC JAYNYC is offline
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Originally Posted by SteveD View Post
I love coming into LaGuardia over the water and Midway in Chicago, because they both seem so dangerous. When you travel as much as I do, it becomes tedious and anything that adds excitement is welcome. Also nothing beats clear views of Manhattan, coming into any of the big three airports, if you're lucky enough to catch a glimpse.
No matter how many years pass, nor how many times I fly into any of the 3 NYC-area airports, there's still something a little unnerving about flying too close to / too low above Manhattan.
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  #18  
Old Posted Jan 19, 2019, 10:49 PM
JAYNYC JAYNYC is offline
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Originally Posted by austlar1 View Post
LAX for all the obvious reasons. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpA3ORYlgGs
[/url]
I fully agree. As previously stated, the LAX approach is absolutely stunning, whether day or night, and truly gives one a sense of the massive size of not only L.A., but the entire SoCal region.

And once you cross downtown/the 110 Fwy (the area between South Central and LAX), you REALLY get a perspective of how incredibly dense the city is, especially relative to other large sprawling metros (Houston, Atlanta, etc.) that are spaced out with tons of trees, undeveloped open land, etc. You do NOT see that kind of spacing when flying into L.A.; interestingly, the approach to SKY (Sky Harbor - Phoenix, AZ) is the only one I've seen that offers a similarly dense-yet-sprawling dynamic.
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Old Posted Jan 19, 2019, 10:51 PM
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I quite enjoyed flying over the frozen Arctic Ocean while approaching Barrow (Utqiagvik), Alaska, which is the northernmost city in the US:

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  #20  
Old Posted Jan 19, 2019, 10:53 PM
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Not sure it counts as US, but Willy Field / Pegasus Field (I guess now replaced by Phoenix Field) are pretty cool since you're landing on ice and in view of Mt. Erebus.

For actual US, Boston and SFO are both cool since it looks like you're going to land on water (and BOS has a great view). Midway is nice because it really just is in a neighborhood and you can get nice views on the right approach. Anchorage has really nice scenery. Roswell is also interesting because the Roswell Airport is an airplane graveyard.
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