London Heathrow Airport

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Continent: Europe Country: United Kingdom Region: England
London Heathrow Airport
Location London, England
Airport type Commercial
Overview map Google Maps
Tower 118.7, 118.5
Ground 121.9, 121.7
Clearance 121.975
Approach 120.4
Plane Spotting Hotels guide

Official Spotting Locations

View Heathrow Observation Deck

A former airline lounge in Terminal 4, between gates 15 and 16. Free to enter during Terminal 4's operating hours. Only available to ticketed passengers.

Terrace at Thistle London Heathrow Hotel

This is a good spotting place since you will see the Rwy 27R / 09L. You do not need to be a overnighter to use this point. The only thing is you have to ask at the reception desk. Bath Road, Longford West Drayton UB7 0EQ Phone: 0871 376 9021 / +44 845 305 8321

Heathrow Academy

Located on North Perimeter Road, many spotters choose to spot from here. This location is good for spotting but no good for photography, because of the perimeter fence! From here runway 09L/27R has very close views and also from here views of aircraft parked in Terminal 1 Stands and part of Terminal 3 stands can be seen. Also from here the maintenance area has clear views, here park up South African (747's and A340's) and Qantas (747's). Also some executive and government planes can be seen. When the weather is right views of 09R/27L can be seen, the weather has to be perfect! Sometimes it is to hazy or sometimes too cloudy. Also at the visitors centre there is an [expensive] cafe - although this is only open on weekdays. But there is a McDonald's over the road. Also here is an enthusiasts shop - where models, books, magazines, etc are sold. This location is only called the visitors centre, but really you are spotting in the car park it cost £1.00 per hour, so be aware of the weather. Happy Spotting at LHR, there are some interesting planes to be seen here, I have listed some further down the article.

The centre has now re-opened under a new name, of Heathrow Academy. It is open at weekends and school holidays from 10am to 4pm. Within the centre, there is a Ritazza coffee shop (open from 7am to 4pm), there is still a aviation model shop.

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Novotel Heathrow T1 T2 and T3

The Novotel London Heathrow Airport T1 T2 and T3 on Bath Road opened a plane spotting deck in August 2020. Located on the fourth floor, it overlooks the northern runway 09L/27R. Photos will be through glass windows. It is open from 4am to 10pm.

The area is open to the public; visitors who are not staying at the hotel can pay £10 for four hours or £50 per month for unlimited access. Reduced admission prices are offered for children under 12.

Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow Terminals 2 and 3

The Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow Terminals 2 and 3 has opened it's "Sky Bar" to the public. Check in with the reception desk on level 2 to access the sky bar. Large cameras and tripods are not permitted, however binoculars and photography with phones are allowed. Visitors are required to make a purchase from the bar. The bar is open from 3pm to 11:30pm. See this Instagram post for more details.

The Queens Building

On top of terminal 2. Shut, indefinitely.

Other Spotting Locations

Rwy 27 threshold

Early in the morning, if traffic is coming down on 27R, you could get lucky and witness dual rwy ops/landings. In such cases most the BA heavies will opt for 27L whilst a lot of the T3 traffic will land on 27R.

Block 94 crash gate

A real no-no, the Police will see you off from here quicker than anything! If you dare to venture into here, as it is open, be aware it's not advisable to hang around for too long. Shots of a/c lining up at B94 (for 27L) can be had though, should you get lucky.

Or shots of landing a/c onto 27L also.

Almost as good a spot is across the dual carriageway, which is perfectly fine, where landing a/c can be shot over the fence.

09L Field

There's a field similar to that found at Myrtle Avenue, although this one is for 09L arrivals. Very nice in the mornings when light from the rising Sun hits the fans.

Hilton Hill

Either walk from Myrtle Av. or from terminal 4. Expect a 15 minute walk from Myrtle, 5 from T4. The hill is on the side of the road that leads into terminal 4 itself. Plenty of space to not bother anyone. Very hazy in the summer though. Only good for 27L arrival shots, with a different backdrop from the "normal" LHR ones.

Line ups on 27R

Shooting through the fence on the Northern Perimeter Road. Excellent spot on late summer evenings when the Sun is almost behind you.

Gate by Road Crossing

Only good for 27R ops. Better for landing traffic than departing. Spot is by the mini roundabout near the white huts. Where the a/c cross the road from the airport to the maintenance area there's a red and white gate. Excellent spot for touch downs on 27R.

Aircraft being tugged across the road are also easily shot here too.

This area has now been closed (as of mid March 2006) with the road being diverted around the back of the BA Maintenance Area, so any shots taken from the level crossing are now impossible.

Myrtle Avenue

A field at the end of Myrtle Avenue, by the approach lights for 27L. By foot, either walk from terminal 4 northbound alongside the dual carriageway or southbound from Hatton cross tube. The field can not be missed; it's about a 10 minute walk from either end.

09R banking/climbout shots:Tesco Dukes Green

Excellent spot just outside the airport perimeter,located on the A312.About a 10-15 minute southbound walk from Hatton Cross tube station.A good spot for shooting banking,heavy takeoffs when 09R is use(about 30% of the time)especially for heavy A340s.

27L climbouts:Former Essso garage alongside the southern perimeter road

Popular spot for capturing takeoffs from 27L.Hard to park the car here now as the slip lane as been coned off to prevent such activity!Possible to get a bus to the cargo centre but and walk westbound for about 10minutes.Brick bollards provide useful height for shooting aircraft climbing out slowly after a long takeoff run.

Note : The garage has now re-opened. ( July 2007 )

Perimeter road in north-west corner 27R climbouts

The perimeter road in the far north-west corner also provides some excellent opportunities for 27R climbout shots although the sun is not far round enough for this spot to be effective during the winter and autumn months.

27R final approaches from the mini trading estate

Given the road works and the imminent closing of the 'road crossing road' this area may not be around for too much longer.This spot is on a small trading estate,just off the perimeter road,comprising a series of mainly single tier buildings and is generally quiet at the weekend.Parking the car is not advised here as it is a private estate.Others prefer to shoot from the roundabout on the perimeter road and the little patch of land next to it but I personally find that you are a little too 'under' the aircraft compared to the trading estate spot.

Runway 27R touchdowns

Like the 27R climb outs spot,the light here is only good about 1/2 of the year as you are facing south but it is perfect for evening photography.A few different angles can be had from along the north perimeter road depending on where exactly you shoot from.

Airside Spotting Locations

Airside - Terminal 4

View Heathrow is located up some stairs opposite Gate 11. This is a small spectators area, which has Flightradar24 screens installed. Last time visited (June 2017) none of these were working. View Heathrow has excellent views over 27L and movements from Terminal 2 and 4. Facing North is good for photography with minimal reflections.

In addition to the windows behind the duty free shop the Gate 23 area has windows overlooking the southern taxiway and 27L holding point. WARNING:If you don't know the gate your flight is departing from allow time to walk back to the main departure lounge (without a moving walkway) to check the monitors there.

Airside - Terminal 5

If you take a trip to Terminal 5, you will be able to capture ground traffic, but also departures and arrivals on all runways, depending on which side of the terminal you are. If you arrive at terminal 5 by the main entrance, and turn left or right before entering the terminal, you will get to the end of the terminal next to the arriving perimeter roads. From here, you will be able to see ground traffic and lots of pushbacks from the Terminal 5 ramps. If the active runways are 09's then you will be able to see very close arrivals and departures at your eyeline, and if the active is 27's then you will be able to photograph climb outs. Sometimes police will stop you from spotting here, but i shouldn't see it occurring much, as it's only happened to me once.

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Locations to Avoid

Airport Car Parks

I used to use the airport short stay car parks to spot, but since security has rose the BAA security move you on VERY quickly. These are very expensive anyway, MY HINT IS TO NOT SPOT FROM THE CAR PARKS!

Regular Traffic

British Airways, Heavies from Asia, EU Carriers, Boeing 787/777/767/757/747 and Airbus A330 from America.

Facilities and Transportation

Heathrow airport is connected directly by Tube (Piccadilly line) and Rail (Heathrow Express) to central London. The Tube is not too expensive for a day ticket, and it takes about 45 minutes from Kings Cross. The Heathrow Express is much faster, but it is a lot more expensive and doesn't allow you to stop at Hatton Cross, which is a more advised station than Heathrow Terminals 1,2&3. There are also a number of buses which go to Heathrow from cities in the southeast, but I have not used these myself.

Get off at the Hatton Cross tube station to catch 27L&R Arrivals and 9L&R Departures, with most of the named sites not a long walk away.

From Heathrow airport itself (T's 1,2&3) you can catch a free bus to the new Terminal 5 site where you can see 27L&R Departures and 9L&R arrivals not a long walk away.

South West Trains runs a regular service from Central London / Clapham Junction to Feltham, where it is easy to board the 4 times hourly Service 285 to Hatton Cross Tube Station, where it is an easy walk to view 27L/R arrivals.

External Links