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Barra airport

Land on the beach when you fly into this Scottish airport 🛬

Ever heard of a flight schedule that's determined by ever-changing sea tides? This is exactly the case at Barra Airport, a small Scottish island forming part of the Outer Hebrides. In fact, when your plane approaches Barra Airport, you may be surprised to find that you'll be landing on sand - beach sand! Find out more about this utterly unique airport below.

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Most of the airports around the world see holidaymakers having to deal with issues like luggage chaos, long check-in queues and seemingly endless security protocols.

This is not the case in Barra Airport. Barra is a small Scottish island that's located on the southern end of the Outer Hebrides. Accordingly, the airport only has to deal with around 8,000 passengers a year.

Instead, it's the airplane pilots that face a challenge here, as Barra's airport is located right on the beach; or, if you'd like to be more specific, the beach is an airport!

An additional challenge is the fact that flight operations here are completely determined by nature. When it's high tide, all three runways are submerged by the North Atlantic. So, planes can only really take off or land during low tide, and this is when the beach is closed to pedestrians.

The airport sees regular flights from Glasgow - around two or three times per day. And, due to the rather special conditions at Barra, only small planes are allowed to fly this route. Landing at Barra Airport isn't easy; with no signal lights or permanent colour markings, the only visual guides are some posts in the beach sand.

Planes also have to contend with strong winds, which may see pilots having to do several landing attempts before they're successful. But they're on a strict timeframe - to beat high tide! If a plane takes too long to make a successful landing, it may be forced to return to its departure airport.

This unique airport sees approximately 1,400 take-offs and landings per year. While most passengers are locals, the island of Barra is starting to attract a growing number of holidaymakers - and, of course, plane spotters! Every take-off or landing is an event on the island; as soon as the tide goes out, people start arriving to watch and to get the perfect photo - that moment when the plane's wheels touch the sand. As for the pilots, landing on Barra has become a rite of passage, with many having the ambition to land on Barra at least once during their flying career.

And fair enough - because where else in the world can you hop out onto the beach right after landing?

🏴‍☠️ Pirate tip: Barra Airport is only served by the route from Glasgow, but you can also travel to the island via the ferry from Oban, on the Scottish mainland.

🔍 Source: An airport on the beach

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