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
    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
    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. $\endgroup$ 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
    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
    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.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.