London Gatwick Airport

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Continent: Europe Country: United Kingdom Region: England
London Gatwick Airport
Location London, England
Airport type Commercial
Overview map Google Maps
Tower 124.225
Ground 121.800
Clearance 121.950
Approach 126.825
Plane Spotting Hotels guide

Official Spotting Locations

Roof Terrace

Shut, probably indefinitely.

Other Spotting Locations

08R Crash Gate

Probably the most popular spot at Gatwick, it's excellent for shooting aircraft taxing and holding for departure from 08 (and as a result is only available 30% of the time). The spot provides several different angles depending on where along the crash gate you shoot from. If a ladder is used please take it down after you have taken your shot. If you are arriving here by car, do not attempt to park by the crash gate or under the flightpath as you will be asked to move it by security.

Around this area as well you are able to get good clear shots of aircraft on final approach, or climbing out from 26L. However, you cannot park anywhere in this area as security or the police will ask you to move - and they do regular checks. Best place to park is further along the road, opposite the Flight pub. There is a huge layby here and it is probably a 20 minute walk back towards the viewing location.

08R field

Just south of the 08R crash gate is a gate leading to a farmers field. In the winter months when there is nothing growing here you can use this field to obtain shots of 08R arrivals or heavy 26L departures. It is still possible to use this field in summer, but you must stick to the edge and not under any circumstances step onto the farmer's crop. This spot is north facing so is good for most of the day for photography.

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26L - Inner Perimeter Road

The best place to be when 26L is in use, which is about 70% of the time. Provides good landing views and picture opportunities. Very limited shots of ground activity although it is possible through a fence with a long lens.

08R - Lowfield Heath Crash Gate

Situated about half way down the runway near the Travelodge hotel, this location is not really suitable for photography unless 08R is in operation. Even then you have to rely on planes rotating early in order to get them above the fence.

South Terminal International Departure Lounge

Only accessible if you are traveling. Situated upstairs in the departure lounge by the Sports Bar, it offers nice views across the airfield and runway. Windows seem to be generally clean so photos may be possible. Please note that this area is currently closed due to refurbishment.

Locations to Avoid

South Terminal Short stay Car Park

This spot is fantastic for photographs of arrivals on 26L/26R late in the day, when the sun is to your right and behind you. It is possible to get some well lit, amazing photographs at close range, and at a similar height to the aircraft. However, discretion is the key at this location. You're very likely to be moved on by security from here if they see you. Best tips - do not park on the roof level. Instead, park on Level 4. It's still pretty high up but you're nowhere near as exposed. Stay in your car until something is on approach that you want to get a shot of. Get out of the car, take your photo, then get immediately back into your car and wait again. By doing this it is possible to stay there for a few hours, and get some lovely shots.

Regular Traffic

The airport movements are dominated by Easyjet (A319/A320) with British Airways (A319/A320/B777), Norwegian (737/787), Monarch (A320/A321) and ThomsonFly (B737/757/787) being the other major operators.

The airport is busier during summer months (May-October) as there is a large charter airline presence at the airport, but most of the airlines operate all year long.

Amongst other carriers are Belavia (737), Cathay Pacific (A350), Emirates (A380), RwandAir (A330), Turkish (A321/A330/B737), Virgin Atlantic (A330/B747), Vueling (A319/320/321).

Facilities and Transportation

There is a busy railway station situated at the South Terminal providing services from/to London and the South oast, plus east/west services from Horsham and Tunbridge Wells via Tonbridge. The Gatwick Express train service operates every 15 minutes direct to London Victoria station. The station is a 50 minute train journey from Kings Cross Thameslink.

A transit train operates between the North & South Terminals. Each terminal has short stay parking (albeit quite expensive).

Coach services depart/arrive from locations around the country such as central London, Bristol, Brighton, Birmingham, Oxford, Cambridge and Norwich. For those wanting to combine a Gatwick visit with a Heathrow one there is a direct link provided by National Express Coach 700 Service which operates every 15 minutes. Journey takes approximately 80 minutes.

If you want to get to The western end of the airport from the terminals. Take the G4 bus from either terminal (i believe it runs hourly, but check before you travel) to the village of Charlwood. You should then be only a 1 mile walk from the crash gate at the 08R end.