9 top spotting airports to reach by budget airline

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Asia, Caribbean, Dubai, Eastern Europe, Middle East, Miscellaneous Spotting, Netherlands, North America, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Sint Maarten, Spain, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 21-11-2014

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Spotting isn’t the cheapest hobby, especially if you want to do a lot of it. So I thought I’d look at a few of the best spotting airports that are easily accessible by budget airlines. Hopefully it’ll give you some inspiration for your next trips!

 

Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Palma-Vueling

By Peter Bakema [GFDL 1.2], via Wikimedia Commons

Palma is one of the busiest holiday airports in Europe, particularly during the summer months. Airlines ferry holidaymakers in droves from all over northern Europe, so you’ll see charter and low-cost airlines as well as Spanish regional aircraft. Palma is a big base for Air Berlin, and plenty of other budget airlines also fly there year-round, including easyJet, Ryanair and Vueling.

 

Amsterdam Schiphol, Netherlands

Amsterdam easyJet

By Aero Icarus from Zürich, Switzerland [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Although it is one of Europe’s busiest and largest airports, and is also a stronghold of national airline KLM, Schiphol is surprisingly easy to get to by budget airline. easyJet links many destinations across Europe, whilst Flybe and Jet2 link a number of additional points in the UK.

 

Singapore Changi

Photo by Calvin Teo

Photo by Calvin Teo

A major Asian powerhouse and the hub of the large Singapore Airlines. Changi is also on the route map of many low cost and budget airlines, including home-based Jetstar Asia, Tigerair and Valuair, plus regional carriers Air Asia and Lion Air. Long haul low-cost flights are provided by Jetstar and Scoot to destinations across Asia and Australia.

 

Dubai International, UAE

Flydubai fleet

You may think of Emirates when you think of Dubai, but the second largest carrier at the Middle East hub is Flydubai, a budget airline serving destinations across Africa, the Middle East, Indian subcontinent They even fly into Europe. It makes a more affordable way to reach the airport for some spotting.

 

Atlanta Hartsfield International, GA

Southwest Airlines Heart Livery

Atlanta was known as the busiest airport in the world for many years, largely because of the huge presence of Delta Air Lines reaching across the globe and to many points across the United States. However, the airport’s second largest carrier is Southwest Airlines following its acquisition of Airtran. This means you can get to Atlanta from destinations across America at great prices.

 

Dallas Ft Worth, TX

Spirit Airlines

Another US airport which is dominated by a home based legacy carrier – in this case American Airlines – you may be surprised to find that you have good budget options that don’t require a trip to nearby Love Field. Spirit Airlines recently announced a number of new routes from Dallas to regional and leisure destinations to add to its existing network from the airport.

 

Warsaw Chopin, Poland

Wizz Air

The capital of Poland is a major hub for budget carrier Wizz Air which fights bitterly with full service national carrier LOT. You can also reach Warsaw via carriers Norwegian, Air Berlin, Germanwings and Vueling.

 

Moscow Domodedovo, Russia

By Milad A380 (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Milad A380 (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

For years it was only possible to reach Moscow via traditional full service airlines, or one of Aeroflot’s classic Soviet airliners. However, recent agreements have led to a number of low cost airlines from outside Russia offering flights to Domodedovo. Most significant perhaps is easyJet, which flies from two points in the UK. Other budget airlines flying to Moscow include Air Berlin, Germania, Niki, Meridiana fly, Vueling and Air Arabia.

 

St Maarten, Caribbean

St Maarten Jetblue

A spotters paradise which is on the bucket list of many who like to photograph airliners at close quarters. But it’s not necessary to spend mega bucks getting there with big airlines, particularly from North America, since budget airlines such as Jetblue, Sun Country and Westjet fly regularly to the island.

Ilyushin IL-96 lives on with Cubana and Red Wings

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Caribbean, Cuba, Eastern Europe, Russia, Spotting News | Posted on 11-09-2014

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Ilyushin_Il-96

Aeroflot retired its fleet of Ilyushin IL-96 aircraft earlier this year as it moves towards more modern, Western types for its widebody operations.

One of the aircraft has even been destroyed by fire since it was retired.

However, now there’s a bit of hope for those who like to see Russian planes in the skies, or those who haven’t flown on the type yet (myself included) as both Cubana and Red Wings are taking on some of the former Aeroflot IL-96s for their own operations.

Cubana uses the type on some domestic schedules, and also to places like Buenos Aires, Madrid and Paris Orly from its Havana base. It will take one ex-Aeroflot aircraft.

Red Wings is planning to use the aircraft on flights from Moscow to Simferopol in Crimea. It will take three ex-Aeroflot aircraft. I think it’ll look fantastic in their colours!

 

Greatest Flights – Winair to St Barthelemy

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Caribbean, Greatest Flights, Sint Maarten | Posted on 07-03-2014

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St Barths Tis Meyer

Tis Meyer / planepics.org

If you’re like me, you’re not easily phased by somewhat seat of the pants flying. The focus of this Greatest Flights piece is Winair’s DHC-6 Twin Otter flights from St Maarten to St Barthelemy (St Barths for short).

Flying in and out of St Maarten is an experience in itself, given the spectacular beach location of the runway. But flying from there to St Barths gives passengers the chance to experience a very steep approach to a short runway, barely skimming the tops of cars and heads of cyclists on a road close to the end of the runway. At the opposite end is the sea, so you’d better hope the pilot knows where the brakes are!

Here’s a video of the approach and landing:

You can book flights with Winair here.

Delta DC-9s could live on in the Dominican Republic

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Caribbean, Dominican Republic, North America, USA | Posted on 12-01-2014

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PAWA Dominicana DC-9According to CH-Aviation, Delta’s recently retired Douglas DC-9 fleet could return to service with another airline in the near future.

PAWA Dominicana is an airline based in Santo Domingo, Punta Cana. Although it suspended operations in February 2012, it has maintained that it will return to service under its new management later this year.

The airline is reportedly planning to take on 20 of Delta’s DC-9-50 aircraft, which flew their final flight on 6th January, in addition to two ex-Northwest Airlines DC-9-30s and an ex-American Airlines MD-82.

Seaborne Airlines fleet and route expansion

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Caribbean, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 08-11-2013

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Seaborne Saab 340sWe don’t often get news from the Caribbean, but one story I wanted to highlight was the expansion planned by Seaborne Airlines.

The carrier will add four more Saab 340 aircraft to its fleet in early 2014, bringing its fleet to 13 aircraft.

It will also add a new route from San Juan Luis Munoz Marin Airport to St Kitt’s Bradshaw International and onwards to Nevis Vance Amory International, starting on 15th January 2014. Flights will operate daily.

Has anyone flown on Seaborne Airlines or any other interesting airlines in the Caribbean? Don’t forget  to share your stories and pictures with us!

Sunrise Airways adds first international flight

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Caribbean, Haiti, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 20-08-2013

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Sunrise AirwaysNew Haitian carrier Sunrise Airways is working on establishing its base at Port-au-Prince, and has now added its first international service.

It will start regularly scheduled passenger service between Cap Haitien and Providenciales, Turks & Caicos beginning August 26, 2013.

“Haiti is moving forward, and Sunrise Airways right along with it,” said Philippe Bayard, the airline’s President. “All of us at Sunrise and Haitians everywhere can all take pride in the type of modern, professional airline we’re building from the ground up here in Port-au-Prince to enhance air travel options throughout the region.

The route is operated by a Jetstream 32 aircraft.

JetBlue A321 destinations

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Caribbean, Miscellaneous Spotting, North America, USA | Posted on 07-08-2013

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JetBlue will receive its first Airbus A321 aircraft in December, and the airline has announced the first destinations the type will serve.

From December 19th, JetBlue’s A321s will fly:

– New York JFK to San Juan 2x daily
– New York JFK to Fort Lauderdale 1x daily
– New York JFK to Bridgetown 1x daily

 

Record breaking airports

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Heathrow, Lesotho, Middle East, North America, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Tibet, UK, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 01-08-2013

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Dubai Airport © Dubai AirportsAir travel has gone from strength to strength since the Wright brothers invented the first pilot controlled aircraft in 1903. After a steep increase in aircraft production during the World Wars, a move was made towards commercial air travel by the 1950s when the large body planes took to the sky. By 1976, Concorde’s luxury supersonic flight reduced crossing the Atlantic to just three hours.

Over the last three decades, the industry has been striving to create bigger, better, faster, sleeker, safer, greener and more efficient ways to travel. The industry took a leap forward in 2007 with the introduction of the A380, the world’s largest commercial aircraft that has the ability to carry more passengers than any other.

The progress of design and technology has also extended to airports around the world. If you fly with Emirates to Dubai you’ll arrive at the Emirates hub in Terminal 3, one of the largest buildings in the world in terms of floor space. The first class facilities include an on-site hotel, so you can relax between connections, as well as plenty of restaurants and shops to keep you entertained. Airport terminals like this now feel like small, self-contained towns, in fact some are bigger than small towns!

 

Unique airports around the world

Read our mini-guide to extreme airports around the world.

 

Busiest airport
All big city airports feel busy, but London Heathrow is officially the world’s busiest airport in terms of international passengers travelling through its terminals. The airport reports that during 2012, an incredible 69.98 million passengers (65.3 million of which were international passengers) arrived and departed. The airport’s busiest day was 31 July 2011, when 233,561 passengers passed through the airport.

Atlanta at night (c) Omoo at en.wikipediaGuinness Book of World Records lists Harsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport as the busiest airport in terms of the number of aircraft taking off and landing. In 2011, 924,000 planes used the airport, and with a staggering 92 million passengers travelling through, it is the busiest airport in the world for both domestic and international travellers combined.

 

Largest airport
King Fahd International Airport in Saudi Arabia is the largest airport in the world. It takes up 780 square kilometres, roughly the same size as New York or larger than the neighbouring country of Bahrain!

The impressive terminal has six stories, including an area that is reserved entirely for the Royal Family.

 

Highest airport
Sitting at 4,334m above sea level, and hugged by the surrounding mountains, Bangda Airport in Tibet is a scenic (if nail biting) destination to land in. Thankfully the runway is longer to account for the longer stopping distance due to the atmospheric resistance caused by the altitude. However, construction is underway to build an even higher airport. Naggu, also in Tibet, is due to open in 2014 and will be at an altitude of 4,436m. With average temperatures remaining below zero throughout the year, this is a difficult part of the world to build and operate an airport.

 

Saba AirportShortest runway
The shortest runway in the world can be found on Saba, a tiny island in the Caribbean that is administered by the Netherlands. Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport is flanked on one side by high hills and the landing strip is just 396m long, with cliffs dropping off into the sea at each end. Only small planes and helicopters can land and take off from the airport, as most commercial liners are far too large for such a short space.

 

Scariest runway
In the mountainous monarchy of Lesotho lies the scariest runway in the world. The take-off strip literally runs off a cliff due to the lack of flat space in the region to fit a full length runway. Often planes are forced to plunge off the 610m high cliff and take flight during the drop in order to get airborne.

 

Best airport
Singapore’s Changi Airport has been announced as the World’s Best Airport 2013 at the World Airport Awards. The awards are voted for by customers and this year the survey had 12.1 million responses. It has been in the top three of the awards for the last 14 years and has won the award four times. It also won the Best Airport in Asia and Best Airport Leisure Amenities, proving Changi is a great place for a layover.

Barra Airport

Unusual airport
Barra Airport in Scotland may look like any other small island airport, but pilots have to check the tide chart as well as the weather and air traffic before setting off for the destination. This is because one of the three runways used for commercial aircraft is underwater a high tide!

St. Maarten Aviation Photography Competition

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Caribbean, Miscellaneous Spotting, Sint Maarten | Posted on 27-02-2013

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If you’re going to be in St. Maarten any time over the next month, there’s an aviation-themed photo competition with a serious prize that you can take part in.

Photographs must depict an aviation-related action, with an aircraft visible amid a St. Maarten backdrop. The photographer of the winning image will receive a US$2,500 cash prize.

This comes on the heels of St. Maarten’s airport being just named the most stunning airport approach in the world by PrivateFly.com. The airport is located on the scenic shores of Maho Beach, offering passengers on incoming flights breathtaking views of turquoise waters and white sand beaches. Spectators looking to get a unique view of low-flying incoming planes frequent Maho Beach daily. This one-of-a-kind setting lures tourists and photographers from around the world to the island to capture exclusive shots of arriving planes.

Thomson announce a raft of 787 destinations

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Airline News, Asia, Barbados, Caribbean, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Kenya, Thailand | Posted on 15-01-2013

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Thomson Airways are to be the first operator of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in the UK, with their first aircraft due in the Spring.

The airline has announced a raft of destinations that the type will fly to from the Winter season, starting in November 2013. These include a number of long haul destinations, which will be served mainly from their London Gatwick base. However, regional bases at Manchester and Newcastle will also get 787 routes. The full list announced so far is:

London Gatwick – Punta Cana – Starts 1 November 2013
London Gatwick – Male – Starts 3 November 2013
London Gatwick – Mombasa – Starts 4 November 2013
London Gatwick – Phuket – Starts 5 November 2013
London Gatwick – Montego Bay – Starts 7 November 2013
London Gatwick – Puerto Plata – Starts 13 November 2013
London Gatwick – Holguin – Starts 11 December 2013
London Gatwick – Barbados – Starts 15 December 2013
Helsinki – Mombassa – Starts 22 December 2013
Newcastle – Cancun – Starts 1 April 2014
Manchester – Punta Cana – Starts 2 April 2014

For a full list of Boeing 787 routes from the airlines operating the type, head to the Boeing 787 Routes page.