BLOC Hotel Gatwick – Spotting Hotel Review

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Spotting Hotels, Spotting Trip Reports, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 27-07-2014

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BLOC1

I recently had the pleasure of staying in the newly opened BLOC Hotel at London Gatwick Airport.

The hotel occupies part of the South Terminal at the airport, and is accessible pre-departures, making it an excellent place to stay before or after your flight without having to worry about transport to or from a hotel away from the airport itself.

But for enthusiasts the BLOC Hotel offers an even greater draw, and that’s fantastic views of the action at Gatwick itself.

Gatwick Airport has been notoriously difficult to spot from since the viewing terraces closed down in 2002. But for those who remember these terraces, the BLOC Hotel actually offers a similar view from many of its rooms, albeit with a further elevated perspective, meaning even more can be seen.

I was offered room 748 at the hotel, which is one of the best for spotting. It occupies a corner of the top floor of the hotel, with panoramic views from the runway to the left, round to the North Terminal and the South Terminal’s satellite to the right.

BLOC Hotel

The view from the BLOC hotel is similar to that of the old viewing terraces at Gatwick.

No movements can be missed from this room, as everything using the runway is visible, as are most stands. Some South Terminal stands are not visible, however. The maintenance area is also not visible.

BLOC5

The old viewing terraces still exist, but will not be reopened.

BLOC’s concept is modern design, and the furniture and fittings in the room are really unique. In this particular room there was a large bed, TV, bathroom (with equally good views),  and a touch-screen control panel to handle the lights, blinds, temperature etc.

One feature that always goes down well with spotters is Wi-Fi, and at the BLOC hotel it’s free for all guests, regardless of which room you stay in. This is ideal for running Flightradar24 or similar flight tracking websites to tie up distant or night time movements. On my stay I also noticed some Heathrow departures flying overhead, which could be identified on the internet.

BLOC6

Be careful when booking at this hotel as some rooms have no windows. These are clearly labelled on the website, and naturally will not offer any views of movements. It is best to try and get a higher room facing the airport (west or south) to ensure you can see movements easily; the benefit of Gatwick only having one runway is that all aircraft will be in the same place at some point.

BLOC Hotel Gatwick

An example of the photographs possible from the BLOC Hotel at Gatwick

Photography through the windows was easy on my stay. The windows were clean, and with a 200mm lens I could photograph any aircraft within a reasonable distance. I found, however, that as the light started to fade the windows took on a slight tint which stopped the ability to take good photographs.

The room rates at the BLOC Hotel are pretty good, and in most cases less than £100 per night for all but the VIP rooms. The website handily lists the full standard rate, and the actual rate they are charging over a range of dates. So you can plan your trip well.

This is easily one of the best spotting hotels I’ve ever experienced. I had the benefit of probably the best room for views, but many others at the hotel offer a similar panorama of this notoriously difficult-to-spot-at airport where nothing will be missed. Add to that easy access, comfortable facilities, friendly staff, and good prices.

BLOC2

To find out more or book a room, visit the BLOC Hotel Gatwick website.

3 Cheap Airport View Hotels – 10% off code!

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Asia, Heathrow, Japan, North America, Spotting Hotels, UK, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 10-07-2014

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If you’re a frequent traveler, you’ve probably visited so many airport hotels that they’ve become something of a blur to you — difficult to distinguish from one another. In most cases, their most notable amenity — proximity to the airport and your next flight — is the only reason you’ve selected them.

However, among the world’s thousands of airport hotels, some offer spectacular views of flights arriving and departing from the airport, a welcome change from watching the TV to pass your time. And among these hotels with striking airport views, a select few are affordably priced, making them all the more desirable.

Here are three such properties. All combine memorable airport views with reasonable room rates ($200 per night or less), which sets them apart from run-of-the-mill airport hotels the world over.

As an added incentive for readers of this website, you can get an additional 10 percent discount on any reservations — for these or other hotels — booked through HotelsCheap.org on or before July 31, 2014. More about this later.

Narita Tobu Hotel Airport

Many rooms at Narita Tobu Hotel Airport offer excellent views of arriving and departing flights at Tokyo's Narita International Airport.

Many rooms at Narita Tobu Hotel Airport offer excellent views of arriving and departing flights at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport.

In 2013, Narita International Airport, which serves Tokyo, ranked 13th among the world’s busiest airports in terms of passenger traffic, serving more than 30.5 million passengers. Located nearby, the 12-story Narita Tobu Hotel Airport offers excellent views of airport action from most guestrooms on its upper floors.

If watching the comings and goings at Narita is important to you, be sure to request a room with a good airport view when booking your reservations. If the view from your room is less than perfect, relax with a drink in the hotel’s top-floor cocktail lounge, where you can be sure to catch all the action.

With rates as low as $116 per night, the hotel is a real bargain. Each of its 484 units features a mini-refrigerator, coffee/tea maker, complimentary wired Internet connection, desk/work area, and an en-suite bathroom with combination shower/tub and complimentary toiletries.

Other hotel amenities include an indoor swimming pool, health club, sauna, conference/meeting rooms, airport shuttle (complimentary during limited hours), free parking, gift shop/newsstand, game room, and restaurant.

Renaissance Concourse Atlanta Airport Hotel

From your room in Renaissance Concourse Atlanta Airport Hotel, you can watch flights come and go at the busiest airport in the United States.

From your room in Renaissance Concourse Atlanta Airport Hotel, you can watch flights come and go at the busiest airport in the United States.

For a front-row seat to all the runway action at America’s busiest airport, book a room at Renaissance Concourse Atlanta Airport Hotel, where room rates start at less than $100 a night. Many of the guestrooms and suites at the 11-story hotel directly overlook the runways at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which in 2012 handled nearly 46 million passengers.

The hotel’s 380 air-conditioned units have plenty of amenities, including cable/satellite TV with premium movie channels, room service, mini-refrigerators, Internet access (for surcharge), and en-suite bathrooms with shower/tub combinations, hair dryers, and designer toiletries.

Other hotel facilities and services include indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a sauna, business center, health club, meeting rooms, a gift shop, porter/bellhop service, safe deposit boxes, and complimentary airport shuttle service.

ibis London Heathrow Airport

The sleekly contemporary front desk at the ibis London Heathrow Airport belies the hotel's cut-rate accommodations.

The sleekly contemporary front desk at the ibis London Heathrow Airport belies the hotel’s cut-rate accommodations.

Part of an international chain of economy hotels, ibis London Heathrow Airport sits near the heart of the action at London’s Heathrow Airport, which in 2013 was the world’s busiest airport according to Airports Council International. From the hotel’s rooms you can see plenty of airport action. What makes a stay at ibis even more attractive are its affordable rates, which start as low as $80.

Each of the air-conditioned guestrooms in the six-story hotel offers cable TV with premium channels, coffee/tea maker, and complimentary Wi-Fi. Some handicap-accessible rooms are available.

Other amenities at ibis include a 24-hour snack bar, business services, 24-hour front desk, parking, and shuttle service to all terminals (added fee). The on-site Foggs restaurant and bar serves breakfast and dinner daily.

To take advantage of HotelsCheap.org’s limited-time discount coupon for followers of Airport Spotting, visit the Loyalty Coupon gateway of HotelsCheap.org. Enter discount code AIRPORTSPOTTING10 in the appropriate field to get 10 percent off the site’s already very-affordable rates on any reservations booked on or before July 31, 2014.

Don Amerman is a travel expert based in Florida and Pennsylvania. He has traveled widely across the United States and overseas as well.

Theme Week: Spotting at Rio de Janeiro’s airports

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Brazil, South America, Spotting Hotels | Posted on 20-06-2014

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BrazilThemeWeek

This post is part of a series on Brazil looking at aviation in the country to coincide with the 2014 football World Cup held there. The previous posts looked at the special World Cup liveries worn by various airlines in the lead up to the tournament, a general overview of airlines and airports in Brazil, Spotting at Sao Paulo’s airports, and Preserved Airliners in Brazil. In this post we’ll look at where to spot at Rio de Janeiro’s two airports.

Rio de Janeiro has two commercial airports: Galeão–Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport, and Santos Dumont Airport.

Rio's Airports

Galeão is a joint air base with the Brazil Air Force. It is a major international gateway to Brazil, and the country’s largest airport site. It handled over 17 million passengers in 2013.

Santos Dumont is a smaller, primarily domestic airport situated closer to the centre of the city, on reclaimed land and in sight of the famous Sugarloaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer statue.

Spotting at Galeão Airport

The airport has two runways and two terminals; Terminal 2 was recently renovated in time for the 2014 World Cup.

Galeao

Galeão is a main hub to TAM Airlines and Gol Transportes Aereos. It is also served by major carriers such as:

Aerolineas Argentinas
Aeromexico
Air Canada
Air France
Alitalia
American Airlines
British Airways
Copa Airlines
Delta
Emirates
Iberia
KLM
LAN Airlines
Lufthansa
TAAG Angola
TAP Portugal
United

Galeao is also a busy cargo hub, with numerous domestic and international carriers flying in each day.

Galeao Airport Map

The main spotting location at Galeao Airport is the observation deck in the Air Cafe within Terminal 1. It is located on a higher floor and has good views over the parking areas and runway beyond, so you should see all aircraft movements from here.

An alternative observation area can be found in Terminal 2′s international concourse 1. This has similar views over the parking gates and aprons, and photography is possible.

Between terminals 1 and 2 is a link corridor which also has views across the apron. You don’t need to be a passenger to view here, and photography is possible.

If you’re looking for spotting hotels at Galeao Airport, the Luxor Aeroporto is located within the terminal complex. However, it does not have any rooms overlooking the apron. It is, however, an an easy walk to the various spotting locations.

 

Spotting at Santos Dumont Airport

Santos Dumont is Brazil’s 6th busiest airport. It has two short parallel runways, a single terminal, and an area for business aircraft. The airport operates between 6am and 11pm.

Rio's Santos Dumont Airport

Rio’s Santos Dumont Airport

Its downtown location makes it a busy business hub for executive aircraft, and also for domestic flights by airlines such as:

Avianca Brazil
Azul
Gol Transportes Aereos
TAM Airlines

SantosDumontMap

There is also a military presence at the airport, so be careful when pointing binoculars and cameras around the perimeter.

The best spotting location is within the terminal itself, where there is a large window overlooking the aircraft apron and runways in the distance. Despite there once being an observation deck, it is now obstructed by gates.

An alternative location outside the terminal is close to the southern end of the runways, on Avenida Almirante Silvio Noronha. Turn left outside the terminal and walk past the college. It takes about 20 minutes to get here, and photography is best in the afternoon.

The Ibis Santos Dumont Airport is the only spotting hotel at Santos Dumont. Some rooms, ending in 51, 53 or 55 according to Plane Spotting Hotels, have limited views over the executive ramp. It is only a short walk to the terminal, however. Hotel website.

Transfers between Galeao and Santos Dumont airports is by a shuttle bus that takes around half an hour.

Theme Week: Preserved Airliners in Brazil

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Brazil, Miscellaneous Spotting, South America | Posted on 19-06-2014

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 BrazilThemeWeek

This post is part of a series on Brazil looking at aviation in the country to coincide with the 2014 football World Cup held there. The previous posts looked at the special World Cup liveries worn by various airlines in the lead up to the tournament, a general overview of airlines and airports in Brazil, and Spotting at Sao Paulo’s airports. In this post we’ll look at preserved airliners in Brazil.

Back in the day, if you thought of Brazil’s airlines you thought of VARIG, VASP and Cruziero. These carriers dated back a long way, but sadly none of them weathered the financial troubles that would come their way.

But visitors to Brazil can still see a number of preserved aircraft which once belonged to these and other pioneering airlines from the country.

Aviation Museums in Brazil
The main aviation museums in Brazil which have airliners on display include:

Museu Aeroespaciale in Rio de Janeiro – Campo Dos Afonsos
Includes lots of Brazilian Air Force airliner/transports, such as Boeing 737-200, 737-300, four Douglas C-47 variants, de Havilland Dragon Rapide, Lockheed Lodestar, Vickers Viscount 700, Embraer Banderiante, plus a VARIG Lockheed L188 Electra.

TAM Museum Constellation

TAM Museum in São Carlos
A growing collection of significant historical aircraft created by the founder of TAM Airlines. It has a number of airliners on display, including a Douglas DC-3, Embraer Bandeirante, Fokker F-27, F-100, and Panair do Brasil Lockheed Constellation in immaculate condition.

Other preserved airliners
In addition to the museums, a number of other airliners are preserved around Brazil, including:

Araquara
A private owner bought and preserved a rusting VASP Boeing 737-200 on his land, and is now turning it into a cafe and children’s play area. The aircraft if PP-SFI.

Rio de Janeiro Galeao Air Base
Has a Brazilian Air Force BAe 748 preserved outside.

Sao Jose dos Campos Brazilian Aerospace Memorial
A couple of Embraer prototypes are on display amongst the military aircraft.

Sao Paulo Parque dom Pedro
A classic Douglas DC-3, PT-KUB, is on display in this downtown Sao Paulo park.

Tijucas
By the side of the road in this rural area is a NAMC YS-11 converted into a restaurant. Formerly PP-CTI.

PP-CTI NAMC YS-11 (c) Daniel R Popinga

PP-CTI NAMC YS-11. Courtesy of Flickr

Theme Week: Spotting at Sao Paulo’s Airports

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Brazil, South America, Spotting Hotels | Posted on 18-06-2014

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BrazilThemeWeek

This post is part of a series on Brazil looking at aviation in the country to coincide with the 2014 football World Cup held there. The previous posts looked at the special World Cup liveries worn by various airlines in the lead up to the tournament, and a general overview of airlines and airports in Brazil. In this post we’ll look at the spotting opportunities at Sao Paulo’s.

Sao Paulo has two airports – Gaurulhos, which is the main international airport, and Congonhas, which is a busy domestic airport. Here is a guide to the best places to spot at the two airports.

Sao Paulo

Spotting at Guarulhos Airport

Guarulhos is the largest airport in South America, and a busy international gateway to Brazil. It is located in the north of the city and has two parallel runways and four terminal sections.

Sao Paulo Guarulhos

The airport is a main hub to TAM Airlines and Gol Transportes Aereos. It is also served by major carriers such as:

Aerolineas Argentinas
Aeromexico
Air Canada
Air China
Air France
Alitalia
American Airlines
Avianca
British Airways
Cubana
Delta
Emirates
Ethiopian Airlnes
Etihad
Iberia
KLM
Qantas
Qatar Airways
Singapore Airlines
TAAG Angola
TAP Portugal
Turkish Airlines
United

GuarulhosMap

Inside the terminal there are two areas where you can see aircraft, at either ends of the building through large windows, but you will miss some movements.

The Hotel Matiz is great for spotting, as it has a terrace which is perfect for landing shots. However, sometimes this is closed, or requires to you pay for day access if you’re not a guest. It is best to e-mail the hotel a few days prior to your arrival to request access. It is situated at the westerly end of the runways.

Nearby the Matiz is an area of grass underneath the approach to runways 09L/R, which is a 30 minute walk from the terminal. You can’t park here, but it is safe to spot and photograph.

Hotel Matiz Guarulhos

Hotel Matiz Guarulhos

As for spotting hotels at Guarulhos, the Hotel Matiz mentioned above is the best option as it has great views of arrivals and a terrace. Aircraft can be read off from rooms facing the airport. Hotel website.

Access to Guarulhos is best by car, taxi or bus.  There is also a free bus transfer to Congonhas airport for Gol and TAM passengers.

 

Spotting at Congonhas Airport

Congonhas Airport Terminal

Situated 5 miles from downtown Sao Paulo, Congonhas sits atop a plateau surrounded by the urban sprawl. It is a tricky airport for pilots because of its short runways.

Congonhas has a single terminal, two runways, and is Brazil’s third busiest airport in terms of passengers, and second busiest in terms of aircraft movements. So there’s plenty to see!

It is now only a domestic airport, having lost its international flights. It is quite popular with executive aircraft. The principal airlines are:

Avianca Brazil
Azul
Brava Linhas Aereas
Gol
TAM Airlines

Congonhas Map

Avenue Washington Luiz is a good spotting location at Congonhas as it has a walkway alongside which parallels the runway. You can walk here from the terminal if you turn right. However, it can be unsafe to be here alone or for long.

Another good spot if runway 17R is in use is to continue along Avenue Washington Luiz to where it joins Avenue Bandeirantes. Aircraft will pass above you at close quarters.

800px-AeroportoCongonhas_ALS2

A good value spotting hotel at Congonhas Airport is the Ibis Hotel Congonhas. It is situated next to the terminal, and rooms on higher floors have a great view of all movements. Hotel website.

The airport is accessed by car, taxi or bus. Free shuttle buses link Guarulhos and Viracopos International for passengers.

 

Heathrow Terminal 2 Opens

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Airport Spotting Guide, Heathrow, Spotting News, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 04-06-2014

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The first flight arrives at Heathrow's new Terminal 2

The first flight arrives at Heathrow’s new Terminal 2

London Heathrow Airport‘s Terminal 2 has opened to passengers this morning.

The first flight, arriving from Chicago O’Hare at 6am, was operated by United Airlines, who will be the only airline to use the terminal initially. Shortly, however, other Star Alliance carriers will also transfer their operations from other Heathrow terminals, along with Aer Lingus and Virgin Atlantic Little Red.

The £2.5 billion terminal replaces the original Terminal 2 and Queens Building, which was the first of the central terminals at Heathrow. The new one is much more spacious and has a greater capacity for passengers and aircraft. It features a huge sculpture.

It also has 28 gates, eight A380 piers, 33 shops and 17 restaurants.

What Terminal 2 is like for enthusiasts is not known yet, but we’d love to hear from you if you’re passing through or visiting in the coming days. Are there any views before security? Do the departure lounges have large windows?

You can find out more about spotting at Heathrow here.

Spotting from the Toronto Sheraton Gateway Hotel

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Canada, North America, Spotting Hotels, Spotting Trip Reports | Posted on 24-05-2014

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One of the best spotting hotels at Toronto Pearson International Airport is the Sheraton Gateway Hotel. Dave Parker recently visited and gave the following report from his time there. The pictures are also taken by Dave from the hotel (see more here).

Toronto View from Sheraton room 846

View from room 846

There Sheraton Gateway is connected to Terminal 3 and offers views across the ramps and active runways. I requested a high room with a view and was contacted by the hotel offering a club upgrade for C$30.  This guaranteed top floor and free Internet, breakfast and evening snacks. I was duly given room 846 and was not disappointed. The views were fantastic across the ramps, and with traffic landing on left and right runways towards he hotel nothing could be missed with either optics or SBS. Although Terminal 1 is not viewable, most aircraft taxi in front of Terminal 3 in transit to and from the runways.  For the photographer, the views through glass are not perfect. There is a tint and you have to search out a sweet spot for best clarity. I have updated my phanfare site so you can view a collection of photos there to get a feel for what is possible.

On the whole I would say is one of the best hotels for views at Toronto. I did check the layout and it looks like rooms in the 827-837 and 843-853 would give similar views and presumably floors 6 and 7, although I suspect level 6 might have some terminal structure blocking some of the views. I do recommend the Club floor as there is 24hr access to the lounge with Starbucks Coffee and soft drinks on tap. Evening nibbles were also good.

Toronto Air Canada A320 C-FPWE

I stayed two nights (Saturday & Sunday). Activity was fairly constant although after a while repeats creep in. You will not get all of the Air Canada fleet as it tends to be slow to move between bases. That is especially true for the Express/Jazz fleets. You will, however, see a reasonable percentage of the A319s, A320s, E190s and E170s. Beech1900. DHC8-100/200 and DHC-400s, CRJ and CRJ700 all repeated regularly with no new ones noted after midday on the second day. Sunday was very good for Westjet, Sunwing and Canjet presumably due to weekend IT schedules.

Sheraton Gateway Toronto Airport

A selection of US Airlines can be seen mainly using smaller equipment (Delta CRJs, American E170, CRJ7, USAir E170, CRJs, United E170, DHC-8). On the International front, the highlight is the Hainan 787. Others include SATA A310, LOT 787, Cubana A320 (LY-), TACA A320, Caribbean/Air Jamaica B738s, Korean B772s and the usual European heavies.

Visit the Sheraton Gateway Hotel website here: www.sheratongatewaytorontoairport.com

Guide to aviation and spotting in India

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Asia, India, Miscellaneous Spotting, Spotting Hotels | Posted on 03-05-2014

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India is one of the world’s most populous countries. It covers an area of around 1.3 million square miles, and has a population of over 1.2 billion people.

With a country of this size and with that many people, transport naturally plays a major role in everyday life, both in terms of moving the population around, and also in bringing people to and from India from the rest of the world, whether for tourism or business.

Air India 707

The Ministry of Aviation controls civil aviation within India – covering both airlines and airports. However, since the 1990s liberalisation has meant that the airline industry in particular has been able to welcome new entrants to challenge the foothold previously held by national carrier Air India (and Indian Airlines, which it merged with in 2011).

However, for the aviation enthusiast India has proved somewhat difficult as a place to pursue aircraft spotting and photography. Security is notoriously tight and unsympathetic to anyone carrying cameras or binoculars anywhere near an airport, with one notorious case even involving spotters using a hotel room being arrested as suspected terrorists after concern was raised over their behaviour and equipment.

Yet despite this, India is a fascinating place for aviation where new and old meet. It has some incredibly busy airports which see aircraft from many eras operating daily.

Main Airports

Mumbai

There are more than 20 international airports in India. The principal ones of interest to the spotter are:

  • Delhi Indira Ghandi International Airport
  • Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport
  • Chennai International Airport
  • Bangalore Kempegowda International Airport
  • Kolkata Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport
  • Hyderabad Rajiv Gandhi International Airport
  • Kochi Cochin International Airport
  • Ahmedabad Sardar Patel International Airport
  • Pune Lohegaon Airport
  • Thiruvananthapuram International Airport

 

Principal Carriers

Air India is the national airline of India. It was one the largest airline in Indian subcontinent, but is now not even the largest in India. After years of financial struggles and an ageing fleet, it is now positioning itself for growth, having merged with Indian Airlines in 2011 and introduced a modern and efficient fleet of aircraft over recent years. It is also poised to join the Star Alliance in 2014.

Air India’s principal bases are at Delhi and Mumbai airports. It has smaller bases at Chennai and Kolkata, with a number of focus cities in other regional airports around the country.

Its fleet comprises Airbus A319/A320/A321, Boeing 747-400, Boeing 777-200LR and -300ER, and Boeing 787-8.

Air India Express at Cochin

Air India Express is a low-cost subsidiary of the national carrier, operating Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

Air India Regional operates regional flights linking with the parent carrier’s hubs using ATR 42-300 and Bombardier CRJ-700ER aircraft.

GoAir

GoAir formed in 2005 as a low cost carrier with its base at Mumbai. It operates Airbus A320s to 21 different domestic cities, and recently placed an order for 72 of the new A320neo models. Originally GoAir painted its aircraft in a range of different colours, but has now standardised on the grey option.

IndiGo is a Delhi-based low-cost airline which has grown incredibly fast since it started flying in 2006, now carrying more passengers than any other airline in India. It has secondary bases in Kolkata and Mumbai, and flies Airbus A320s both domestically and internationally. It also has a large number of A320neo aircraft on order to complement its growth plans.

Jet Airways is one of India’s biggest carriers, operating over 3000 flights per day. Its primary base is at Mumbai Airport, but with expansion has come a number of other secondary hubs, including Kolkata, Kempegowda, and Delhi. It also operates a base at Brussels in Belgium, through which it stages international flights to destinations in North America.

Jet Airways’ fleet comprises Airbus A330-200/300, ATR 72-500/600, Boeing 737-700/800/900, Boeing 777-300ER. Boeing 787-8s are due to join the fleet from late 2014.

Additional coverage is offered through the JetKonnect brand, which flies ATR 72 and Boeing 737s from the main fleet on low cost flights on many domestic routes from Mumbai. This airline emerged from Air Sahara and JetLite.

Spice Jet

SpiceJet is another major low-cost and ‘no frills’ airline in India, formed in 1993 (as ModiLuft). It has principal bases in Chennai, Delhi and Hyderabad, and flies a large fleet of Boeing 737-800/900 and Bombardier Q400 aircraft to 46 domestic and ten international cities. It recently placed an order for Boeing 737MAX aircraft as it seeks to increase its market share across the increasingly competitive carriers.

 

 

A380 and 787 in India

Large and modern airliners such as the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 have both come to India. In the case of the 787, Air India was one of the first carriers to take delivery of the type, and now deploys it on international routes mostly from Delhi, as well as from Mumbai to London Heathrow.

Jet Airways are due to take delivery of Boeing 787s in late 2014, and will use them on their international schedules.

No Indian carrier operates the Airbus A380, and the Indian government was determined to ban airlines from flying it to the country, despite passenger demand on some routes. This was mainly a move to stop large international carriers from dominating routes to India’s hubs at the cost of losing business for Air India. However, recently the government has relented on its ban, allowing the A380 to fly into Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai airports. Singapore Airlines were first to take advantage, introducing the type twice daily to both Delhi and Mumbai. Emirates and Lufthansa are likely to follow suit.

 

Other interesting aircraft in India

What about other aircraft that might be of interest to the spotter in India? Well, the Indian Air Force operates a number of interesting transport types, including Antonov An-32, BAe/HS 748, Boeing 737-700, C-130 Hercules, DHC-4 Caribou, Dornier 228, Embraer 135 LEGACY, Ilyushin IL-76/78, and C-17 Globemaster which all occasionally show up at the country’s civil airports.

Indian BAe 748

The Indian Navy also operates Boeing 737 P-8, BN2 Islands, and Dornier 228 aircraft.

 

Spotting

Spotting is where things get difficult in India. The hobby is definitely not understood by most people, and you’ll be sure to attract attention if you take out a camera or binoculars and start pointing them at aircraft – particularly if you’re near an airport fence.

You will also attract attention of the police or security personnel around the bigger airports, such as Delhi or Mumbai.

However, it is important that you know the official rules regarding this as there is hope for spotters and photographers in India…

The official law states that: No person shall take, or cause or permit to be taken, at a Government aerodrome or from an aircraft in flight, any photograph except in accordance with and subject to the terms and conditions of a permission in writing.

However, photography IS permitted within airport terminal buildings of all civilian airports, and at some mixed government/civilian airports, such as Goa and Pune.

You are also permitted to take photographs on board and airliner, so long as you are a ticket holder on that flight, and the aircraft is not at a government or military airport. Can you believe it was actually illegal to carry cameras and video equipment aboard an aircraft until 2005?

Another key aspect of the rules to remember if you are photographing outside an airport – it is not permitted to take pictures of the airport itself, however there is no rules about pictures at the airport.

It is wise to keep a copy of the rules handy if you are visiting India. This will at least allow you to back up your case if you are approached by an official. See these links:

http://dgca.nic.in/airrule/rule13.htm

http://dgca.nic.in/airrule/so1353.pdf

http://dgca.nic.in/aic/aic7_2004.pdf

 

None of India’s airports provide places for people to watch aircraft. As I said, it’s a misunderstood hobby which raises suspicion. Having said that, for most fare paying passengers you have a ticket to sit by the windows of your chosen airport and watch movements quite easily in most cases.

When doing this it is important to show discretion, particularly with the use of cameras, binoculars and SBS equipment as you are likely to attract attention quickly. Keep compact binoculars and cameras with shorter lenses in a bag and only use them sparingly.

Where the locals go

Naturally, local spotters will always know the best positions. When working on the book Mumbai Airports Through Time, spotters Sean DSilva and Jimmy Wadia shared their collection of hundreds of pictures taken around Mumbai Airports, and you can see that they knew the best locations to get good shots.  See some examples here from the book:

Mumbai IL-76

Air India 747 rain

14.-P1170226

The spot is a raised area of land near the airport perimeter which is higher than the fence level and is good for pictures of aircraft on the ground and in the air. However, Sean tells me that even here the officials will regularly move on and interrogate spotters.

Delhi Airport is not known for its spotting locations, so unless you find a local to show you around it is best to stick to watching movements from inside the terminal.The same can be said for Kolkata, Goa and Hyderabad.

Spotting at Chennai Airport

Spotting at Chennai Airport

Bangalore and Chennai are similar to Mumbai in that there are some locations close to the end of the runways which offer views. An active local community of spotters have a Facebook page for Chennai at (https://www.facebook.com/ChennaiPlaneSpotters) which shows the latest pictures that have been taken here, and may offer advice on where to go.

 

Spotting Hotels

Hotels often produce the best results for plane spotters in India. They offer privacy to watch (and often photograph) aircraft without worry about being questioned by security officers. Having said that, there were some people arrested for this at Delhi’s Radisson in 2010, so always show caution with equipment and how you behave in hotels.

The best hotels for spotting in India are:

Orchid Hotel at Mumbai Airport (http://www.orchidhotel.com/)

This hotel has some rooms facing the airport terminals, which are fine for logging movements. However, the main draw is the rooftop terrace and swimming pool which overlooks the airport and allows nearly all aircraft to be logged and acceptable photos to be taken. The hotel management understand the hobby, although you should inform staff of your intentions when arriving.

Radisson Blu Hotel at Delhi Airport (http://www.radissonblu.com/hotel-newdelhi)

Some rooms at this hotel face the airport, making it probably the best option for spotting in the city. However, given the problems caused with spotters at this hotel in the past, extreme caution should be exercised.

 

Museums

A few aviation museums exist in India, and these are usually happy for enthusiasts to take pictures of exhibits. Most, however, focus primarily on military aircraft. Examples include:

Connie_at_NAM_2

HAL Aerospace Museum, in Bangalore

Indian Air Force Museum, in Palam, Delhi. Website http://indianairforce.nic.in/show_page.php?pg_id=49

Naval Aviation Museum, in Vasco da Gama, Goa. The most notable exhibit is a Lockheed Constellation aircraft. Website http://www.goatourism.gov.in/destinations/museums/159-naval-aviation-museum

 

Events

India is home to a few air shows. Most notable is AeroIndia, which has become the largest in Asia and is primarily a showcase for military manufacturers and organisations to do business, but it also opens to the public. It is held at Yelahanka Air Force Base in Bangalore biannually. The next one is expected to be held in early 2015. Photography is acceptable at such events.

 

Should I go to India?

This is something that spotters need to weigh up. Clearly there are security issues with spotting, and some spotters have gotten into trouble in the past. But with discretion, many spotters travel to India every year and get some great results (just look at the photos on Airliners.net).

Mumbai Airports Through Time

In terms of aircraft, there are some here that you won’t find elsewhere – particularly aircraft in domestic fleets, and those of the Indian Air Force. Most of the airports are pretty busy so you should have a fruitful time.
One of the reasons we put together our book Mumbai Airports Through Time was to show off the variety of fascinating aircraft to be seen in India simply because it is difficult for people to get there and see for themselves. You can buy a copy of the book here.

If you do choose to go, it’s always advisable to seek advice from locals and show the utmost discretion in what you do.

Have you been spotting in India? Write a comment below and let us know how you found it…

Sydney Airport aviation community weekend – 4-5 April

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Airport Spotting Guide, Australasia, Australia | Posted on 19-03-2014

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Qantas_A380_VH-OQB_SydneySydney Airport will host its second annual Aviation Community Weekend on Friday 4th and Saturday 5th April.

This year Sydney Airport will be offering two exclusive airfield tours.  Both tours will be escorted by an airfield safety vehicle enabling each of you to spend a reasonable amount of time on the airfield to capture aircraft landings and takeoffs.  The airfield tour will also consist of a tour around the inside perimeter fence.

Canon Australia are on board to offer product demonstrations along with a selection of super telephoto lenses available for use during an afternoon plane spotting session from a high vantage point.  This session will occur on the airport’s corporate office rooftop which has an impressive 180 degree runway view.

After Canon’s product demonstrations, Sydney Airport and YSSY Forum will offer light refreshments and finger food. A trivia competition will also be held, with several of stakeholders offering great experiences as prizes.

Pre-registration is open until Friday, 21st March at 9am (SYD time) where names for both airfield tours will be selected at random.

Sydney Rydges Hotel is the new spotting location

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Australasia, Australia, Spotting Hotels, Spotting News | Posted on 17-03-2014

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Rydges Hotel ViewWe recently reported on the closure of Sydney’s Observation Deck on the International Terminal. However, the airport has been working with the Rydges Hotel in providing an alternative place for spotters to congregate.

The hotel has a rooftop area which it is now opening up to plane spotters for a small fee of $10.This fee gets you access to the rooftop, a free beverage from the cafe, and a spotter information sheet to help you get to grips with Sydney Airport. There are also family passes available for $30 for 2 adults and 2 children.

The Rydges Hotel is located within the International Terminal complex, and is Sydney’s only airport terminal hotel.

Views from the roof look across the airfield and runways, with many of the International Terminal gates in view, and the Domestic Terminal visible in the distance. All movements can be seen to some degree, so you’re not going to miss anything from here.

Rydges Hotel Rooftop

Photography is also possible for aircraft at the International Terminal and on the nearest (16R/34L) runway but needs a zoom lens.

Rydges Hotel Room Views

Spotter Hotel Package
If you’re looking to stay in Sydney, the Rydges Hotel has a special Plane Spotter Package which guarantees you a Deluxe King Room with a great view of the airport and surroundings, a pair of binoculars, food & drink voucher, free Wi-Fi and late checkout. The price starts at AUS$229 for non-members, or $206 for members. Check it out here: http://www.rydges.com/accommodation/sydney-nsw/sydney-airport/offers/plane-spotter-package/