Some airports in the world only allow captains to take off or land the aircraft, due to airport design or environmental conditions (obstacles, high winds).

Examples include:

  • Funchal (Madeira, Portugal)
  • Heraklion (Greece)
  • Paro Paro (Bhutan)

Are there any airports in the United States that are "captain-only", either for take-off or landing or both? Why so?

  • 15
    $\begingroup$ It's not the airports that make them Captain-only, it's the specific operators. ie Airline-A may have that airport as Captain-only, but Airline-B may not. Their choice. $\endgroup$
    – RAC
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 9:40
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ @RAC Not always true. I know that India has several airports that are designated as captains-only by the regulatory authority $\endgroup$
    – TomMcW
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 20:25
  • $\begingroup$ I suppose that instrument approach and departure procedures that require specific authorization from the FAA (obtained by the Operator) come the closest. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 5:01
  • $\begingroup$ To RAC's point, I know that some Airlines require pilot's to be signed off for Jackson Hole. I don't recall if it is a captain's only rule or not. But they have to be specifically trained on the airport a fly multiple flights with an internal check airman. $\endgroup$
    – OSUZorba
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 2:28
  • $\begingroup$ Some airlines probably want pilots who can be trusted with large bundles of cash at Jackson Hole. The fuel prices there are huge. $\endgroup$
    – Mike Brass
    Commented Mar 30, 2018 at 10:46

1 Answer 1


As already mentioned in the comments, I don't think there is such a thing as "captains-only" airports. The airline/operator might impose special requirements on crew, such as a certain amount of experience and/or being a captain. It might also require the crew to be additionally trained for that specific airport (this can for instance be conducted during the Operators Proficiency Check).

To add to that, I could be captian on one flight, and be first-officer on the next. Makes no sense to not allow me to conduct the approach/departure, just because my rank is not captain on that specific flight.

In Europe, I know of some airports in the Alps (and Cannes on the French coast, just to name one) that require a yearly theoretical test to be made by pilots operating on the airport. This is due to some very specific rules at those airports.


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