I took an Alaska Airlines flight to Palm Springs (PSP) and on landing the flight attendant mentioned that "this is one of the airports where we need to be seated early". Why is that the case for that airport, and what would be some of the other airports where that also happens?

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    $\begingroup$ Denver (DEN) is another airport where flight attendants are usually seated early. Turbulence is common on the descent, because of the terrain. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 4, 2017 at 16:42
  • $\begingroup$ @NateEldredge: Not just the flight attendants - I remember once flying into Denver (to change planes to another flight to my ultimate destination) and having the "fasten seat belt" sign come on for landing while I was in the lavatory. I remember being surprised that it came on so early... $\endgroup$
    – Vikki
    Commented May 1, 2018 at 15:56

1 Answer 1


I can't say for sure, but here's one plausible reason: Palm Springs is in a valley and surrounded by much higher terrain on three sides, which requires more maneuvering to land than at other airports. You can see on the VFR sectional that the airport elevation is 476ft MSL, but there are mountains over 8000ft within 10 miles of the airport. If you check the instrument approach plates for runway 13R/31L (it's the longer one, so most likely to be used by an airline), you can see that the flight paths are far from straight:





I can imagine the pilot would brief the cabin crew to be seated well before landing for safety while the aircraft flies the approach. Mountains often produce turbulence and high winds too, which would be another good reason to be seated while maneuvering at a lower altitude over that terrain.

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    $\begingroup$ If you've ever been through Palm Springs on the ground, it's definitely abundantly clear why there are so many power generation turbines there. That mountain bottleneck is impressive. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 2:31
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    $\begingroup$ The San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm, just west of Palm Springs, has more than 4,000 very large windmills with a combined capacity of 615 MW. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 4:10

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