Logan International Airport
|Continent: North America||Country: United States||Region: Massachusetts|
|General Edward Lawrence Logan International Airport|
|Overview map||Google Maps|
|Approach||118.25(North) 120.6(South) 127.2(West)|
|Plane Spotting Hotels guide|
Boston's Logan International Airport is the largest airport in New England, and serves as a focus city for a number of airlines, though it isn't a hub for any major carrier. American, Jet Blue, US Airways, and Delta all have major operational centers in Boston. Cape Air also has their New England hub here, and despite their relatively small size as an air carrier, their blue-tailed Cessna 402C's are ubiquitous around Logan.
The airfield comprises 5 runways, one of which (15L/33R) is used solely for light aircraft due to its length (2557 ft.). The other four (15R/33L, 4R/22L, 4L/22R, and 9/27) are significantly longer, with two being about 10000 feet long, one being 7800 feet long, and the remaining one being 7000 feet even.
The airport is made up of 5 terminals, lettered A through E. More recently, what used to be Terminal D has been absorbed under the Terminal C moniker, due to its small size (just a few gates). While the terminals are all arranged nominally in a circle around a central roadway and parking system, they share nothing in common architecturally, making it almost feel like Logan is actually comprised of 4 smaller airports.
- 1 Official Spotting Locations
- 2 Other Spotting Locations
- 3 Locations to Avoid
- 4 Regular Traffic
- 5 Facilities and Transportation
Official Spotting Locations
Other Spotting Locations
Constitution Beach is located immediately northwest of the approach end of Runway 22R. It is most easily accessible by taking the MBTA Blue Line to Orient Heights, and then walking straight south along the road which runs right alongside the Outbound side of the station, until you hit Constitution Beach Park. This location offers great views if arrivals are on the 22's, or if departures are on the 4's, and, to a slightly lesser extent, if the traffic is reversed (22 departures or 4 arrivals). This means that, while you may not be able to shoot both departures and arrivals simultaneously, you're almost guaranteed some action. If you follow the beach far south enough, you can get nice side-on shots of aircraft on taxiway November (usually the large aircraft taxi down to the far and of the 4's after landing, so they return on this taxiway), and even some shots of arrivals and takeoffs on Runway 15R. In all of these cases, you'll need a telephoto lens to get full-frame shots on a 1.6x DSLR (200+ mm). Also, this location is best in the afternoon, as the sun is behind you.
Some examples of shots from this area:
Bayswater St. Beach
Essentially an extension of Constitution Beach, but listed separately because you can't get to it directly by walking along the beach. You still get off at the Orient Heights T station, but rather than follow the street all the way to Constitution Beach Park, head southeast on Bayswater, and walk until the road turns slightly left, at which point, you'll be alongside a beach which runs east-west just off the approach end of the 22's (the beach runs perpendicular to the runways). This location might be a bit better for shooting arrivals on the 22's, since you're closer to the aircraft. One thing though, as you'll notice when you get there, is that because of the houses, you get almost no warning when a plane is about to pass overhead (maybe 5 seconds, tops). This, of course, can be remedied if you have a suitable radio with you to listen to Boston Tower. Spotting here is great in the afternoons, up until sunset. One very interesting point about this location is that the beach is at sea level, but is about 20 feet below the road grade, meaning that you can see fairly nicely "down" the 22's, if you're up on the road. Standing at the spot about halfway in between the two runways, I was able to cover all traffic (everything from an ERJ-145 to an A340) with a 70-200 with a 1.4X converter. Admittedly though, at 98mm, the A340 was almost taking up more than the entire frame (on my 10D), and it would have been nice to have those extra 20mm of a standard 70-300 or 100-300 zoom.
Be sure to dress warmly (when the temp warrants it), as you'll usually be getting a fairly stiff wind coming right at you if you're shooting in this location.
The A340 mentioned above:
Another Angle From This Area:
Pleasure Bay and Fort Independence Parks
These two interconnected parks are located directly under the final approach path for the 4's. In the morning, you'll be able to shoot traffic coming in on 4R and 4L from further east in the park. In the afternoon, you can move to the concrete platform just south of the intersection of William J Day Blvd. and Farragut Rd, giving you good views of 4R arrivals. To shoot arrivals on 4L (exclusively biz-jet-size and smaller aircraft during the day I was there), try the beach in between the restaurants and the Curley Community Center. I was able to cover all 4R arrivals from the concrete platform with 100mm to 300mm on an APS-C DSLR.
Terminal B Parking Garage
This one is a bit tricky, which is why its also listed as a "place to avoid below". General wisdom is that this is hands-down the best spotting location anywhere at BOS. If you do go spotting on the garage, you have great views of pretty much all ops on the 4's/22's (especially 22R takeoffs, which are particularly spectacular in the afternoon), and pretty decent views , given a 300mm lens on a 1.6x DSLR, of ops on 15R/33L, and 9/27. Like Constitution Beach, this location is better in the afternoon, or at night (see examples below). One thing you can do to avoid the police is actually to spot on Level 4 of the garage, rather than Level 5. While there is a building in your way for a portion of the view of the airfield, it is generally a pretty good location, and I've never seen a MassPort truck there when I've been spotting. It seems as though they concentrate on patrolling the top level.
This spot is best for 27 arrivals/9 departures and is located in Winthrop MA. It is a fairly decent spot all around during the day since it is pretty close east/west - so the sun is almost always behind and in front rather than to the side. For arrivals a 28-135ish will do just fine for full frame shots, and up to 200 is good for close-ups. For departures a 100-300 is best for full frame shots. You can go up to the larger beach up the street (which you have to drive past to get to Shirley point) and get similar views. Heavies are not uncommon here as I have spotted A340's, 747's, DC-10's, and A330's along with the normal "domestic" traffic.
The U.S. Airways side of Terminal B has pretty good views of the Delta ramp (and even some views of the cargo ramp), as well as (of course) the U.S. Airways traffic. Everything but the furthest Delta gates can pretty much be covered by 200mm on a 1.6x DSLR.
Locations to Avoid
Terminal B Parking Garage
The problem with the Terminal B Garage is that Massachusetts State Police - Troop F (the group which patrols the airport along with the MassPort people) is rather Gestapo-ish in their "enforcement", which, in many cases, includes harassing spotters on top of the Terminal B garage. There aren't any regulations (TSA, FAA, or otherwise) which prohibit photography, but that fact doesn't seem to stop these guys. I've personally had trouble about half the time I've been spotting on top of the garage. Here's a rundown. First time (May 19, 2005), my friend and I were up there for maybe 30-45 minutes around 5PM, and nobody even came to talk to us about what we were doing. Second time, I was there by myself, and a guy in a MassPort pickup came by (after I'd been up there for maybe 20 minute) and told me very politely that it probably wasn't a good idea for me to be taking pictures, as people might get overly suspicious, seeing as how it was September 11th (something I hadn't realized, actually). The third time, it was actually about half-past midnight on the morning of October 29th, 2005, and I was there for maybe 45 minutes before it got just too cold to be up there. Nobody came by to stop me that time, but I attribute that to it being the middle of the night. The fourth time, I was there on a Friday afternoon in early November 2005 around 3:30, and I hadn't even gotten my camera out before a lady in a Massport truck came up and told me that I wasn't allowed to take pictures. I politely asked her which organization was preventing me from taking pictures, and she called two people from MSPD-Troop F, and told me that "the state police will be right up to inform you". I finally thought I'd get some info regarding just who it was that was so opposed to me taking pictures. I stood around for a few mintues watching the traffic (I'd put my camera away at this point), while the lady from Massport sat in her truck and watched me (at least thats what I think she was doing--she was behind me, so I couldn't see her). When the trooper finally arrived, our conversation went like this:
Trooper: Didn't she [the lady from Massport] tell you you can't take pictures?
Me: Yes sir.
Trooper: So what's your problem? Get in your car and get out of here.
Me: I'd just like to find out whose authority is preventing me from taking pictures here.
Trooper: Mine! Now get in your car and get out of here.
Me: <start buttoning up my bag to leave> Well, I don't appreciate you being rude to me, sir.
Trooper: Why didn't you leave when she [again, tha lady from Massport] told you not to take pictures?
Me: Like I said, I'd like to know whose authority is prevening me from taking pictures here.
Trooper: Mine, and Massport's. Now get in your car and get out of here.
Me: Alright. <at which point, I turned and walked away>
That's been the worst interaction with police that I have personally had while spotting, but there have been some horror stories about people having their gear taken away for a while by the police while they sit somewhere and wait (I can only imagine that they aren't really doing anything with the equipment, just making you wait for the fun of it). I suppose its really spot-at-your-own risk at this locations. I would imagine, however, that if you went at night (such as I did that one time), that nobody would be around to bother you, so that may be a better option for this location.
Another possibility for avoiding too much police and MassPort attention is to spot from Level 4, instead of the roof (Level 5). While this limits your view to takeoffs on 27 and the 22's, and landings on 9, and the 4's (all in the afternoon), the general consensus is that the MassPort trucks patrol this level much less frequently. Be careful, though, if you do run into one, since the one good spotting location on this level has a "no trespassing" sign posted right near it (it's basically impossible to argue you missed seeing it), so its probably a good idea avoiding any confrontation with the authorities at this spot.
- Update May 31st, 2008*
If you are planning a trip to Logan and would like the ability to shoot photographs from the Terminal B Lot you may contact Phil Orlandella at Massport to obtain permission. Please see  for more information concerning the matter.
- Aer Lingus: A330-300
- Air Canada: Embraer 170/175
- Air Canada Jazz: CRJ-100/200, Dash 8
- Air France: A340-300, B747-400
- AirOne: A330
- Alaska: B737-700, B737-800
- Alitalia: B767-300
- American: MD-80, B757-200, B767-200, B767-300 (seasonal), B777-200
- American Eagle: ERJ-145
- British Airways: B747-400, B777,200
- Cape Air: Cessna 402
- Delta: MD-88, B737-800, B752, 767-200/300 (occasional); B767-400 (rare charters only)
- Delta Connection: ERJ-145, CRJ-100/200/700/900, Beech 1900D
- Delta Shuttle: MD-88
- DHL: 767-200, A300, A310
- FedEx: A300, A310, DC-10; B727
- Iberia: A340-300
- Icelandair: B757-200
- jetBlue: A320, Embraer 190
- Lufthansa: A330, A340-300, A340-600, B747-400
- SATA: A310 (night)
- Spirit: A319
- Swiss: A330
- TACV: B757-200
- United: B737-300/500, B757-200, B767-200/300 (occassional); A319, A320
- United Express: ERJ-145
- UPS: A300, A310
- Virgin Atlantic: B747-400, A340-300, A340-600
Facilities and Transportation
Logan has a bus system that links all five terminals, water ferry, subway system, and all parking lots.
There are two main methods of public transportation available to get to and from Logan. The T's Blue Line runs to the "Airport" stop, whereby passengers can board a free shuttle bus to the various terminals. You can also take the Silver Line straight to the individual terminals. Most people will transfer to the Silver Line at South Station from the Red Line (Amtrak and the MBTA commuter rail also serve South Station, for those travelling to Boston by train).
There are three main parking facilities at Logan. The Terminal B garage (see above for its use as a spotting location), the Central garage, and the Terminal E lot. The Central Garage is currently undergoing expansion, and when the construction is complete, may very well offer views of the entire airport from its upper deck. I would imagine, however, that, when it is opened, similar situations to what happens at the Terminal B garage would also present themselves on top of the Central garage.