Spotting at JFK Terminal 5

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, North America, Spotting Trip Reports, USA | Posted on 25-11-2015


JFK Terminal 5 JetBlue

Spotting at JFK Terminal 5 (JetBlue)

I recently flew out of New York JFK’s Terminal 5 following a family holiday. I had the opportunity to check out the spotting opportunities here and take some pictures to report back for this post.

Spotting at JFK Terminal 5 is actually quite easy and first off, I didn’t have any problems with security or other passengers by discretely using binoculars and a camera. In fact, there was another spotter using the opportunity to take some pictures of passing aircraft using a large camera lens while I was there.

Terminal 5

New York JFK’s Terminal 5 is home to JetBlue Airways. It is one of the newer facilities at the airport, having superseded the original TWA Flight Center terminal and the hasty extension which was put up to handle expansion.

Outside T5 you can still see the TWA Flight Center, which (as we reported recently) is soon to be turned into an airport hotel and business center.

Other airlines using Terminal 5 include Aer Lingus (whom I was flying on this visit) and Hawaiian Airlines.


Landside Spotting


View of A380s at JFK Terminal 4, seen from outside Terminal 5.

At the departures level there is a smoking area next to the entrance and kerbside drop-off at Terminal 5. This overlooks a couple of the gates, a runway and taxiway in the distance, and some gates at Terminal 4. As you can see from the picture above, these were dominated by international airlines, including Airbus A380s and other wide-bodies.

JFK Terminal 5 AirTrain.

Spotting at JFK Terminal 5 AirTrain walkway.

At the opposite end of the terminal a walkway links Terminal 5 to the AirTrain people mover which links all of the terminals. From the elevated position there are some good views across to the British Airways Terminal 7, and runway 13L/31R. You also have some distant views of some cargo and remote parking aprons.


Airside Spotting

Once through security it is quite easy to spot at Terminal 5. All three concourses can be walked along, allowing you to log aircraft parked at the gates.

Places which are particularly good for spotting include:

Spotting at JFK

Terminal 5 view near gate 30.

Gate 30. From here you can see Terminal 7 and runway 13L/31R.

Delta 717

A Delta Boeing 717 taxies past gate 15 at JFK Terminal 5.

Gate 15. Soft seats and a panoramic view of aircraft passing on the adjacent taxiway. A lot of Delta aircraft pass here on the way to Terminal 4. You can also see aircraft using runways 04L/22R, 04R/22L and the end of runway 13L/31R here. Photography is easy given the close proximity.

Behind you, close to gates 11 and 12, you can see across to the Delta terminal and runway 13R/31L beyond.


T5 Rooftop

View of British Airways terminal from T5 Rooftop.

T5 Rooftop

Whilst enjoying the views I heard a couple of automated announcements for the “T5 Rooftop”. Curious as to what it might be, I wandered along to gate 28. There I found a door with a sign and the hours of operation, so wandered through expecting a plane spotter’s paradise.

JFK Terminal 5 Rooftop

What I found was, in fact, just a dog walking/smoking area which faced the roadside area. Walking to the end I could see across to the British Airways terminal, but the view was limited and nothing compared to what was offer (in the warmth) at gate 30.


Other places for spotting at JFK

We recently put together this full guide to spotting at New York JFK Airport, which is especially useful for locations outside the airport.

Minneapolis St Paul spotting area opens

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Airport Spotting Guide, North America, Spotting News, USA | Posted on 07-11-2015


Minneapolis St Paul Spotting Area

Minneapolis St Paul Spotting Area by Emmanuel Canaan

Minneapolis St Paul Spotting Area by Emmanuele Canaan

Photo by Emmanuel Canaan

Minneapolis St. Paul Airport in Minnesota has enamored itself to local plane spotters and enthusiasts by opening a new place to watch aircraft on airport property.

“I’ve always thought MSP Airport should have a place for the public to watch airplanes land and takeoff,” said Dan Boivin, Chair of the Metropolitan Airports Commission, at a ribbon cutting event. “When MSP first opened its doors for commercial air travel, people were able to come right up to the fence. Then, when Terminal 1-Lindbergh was constructed, we offered an indoor observation deck to anyone who wished to make the trip to the airport. But since 2002, when new security regulations were put in place, we haven’t had a designated public space for this activity – until now.”

The Minneapolis St Paul spotting area includes parking, picnic tables, and benches. Trees have been planted that, when mature, will provide shade and natural beauty – perhaps not ideal during the typically harsh winters the area experiences, but no doubt very much welcome by local spotters.

Views available from the spotting area include all four runways, plus terminals 1 and 2. The airport said that they had seen the need for such a place when observing spotters finding spaces alongside the roads and Cell Phone Lot at the airport trying to find good vantage points.

Access to the viewing area is from the west side of the airport. To get to the viewing area from Richfield or Cedar Avenue, travel on 66th St. east to Longfellow Avenue and follow Longfellow south to Cargo Road. Follow Cargo Road to its end at the new viewing area. From Bloomington or I-494, take 24th Ave. north to 77th St. Take 77th St. west to Longfellow Road, and follow Longfellow north to Cargo Road. Turn right on Cargo Road and follow it to the new viewing area, located just past and the Federal Express shipping facility.

The airport has produced a handy map with driving instructions. Download it here:

The space is open every day, dawn to dusk.

Photographs on this post are kindly provided by the excellent aviation photographer Emmanuel Canaan. Check out his website!


World Airports Spotting Guide Book

Spotting at Burlington Airport, Vermont

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, North America, Spotting Trip Reports, USA | Posted on 04-11-2015


Burlington Spotting Guide

Burlington Airport is the busiest and largest in Vermont, one of the New England states. I recently visited and checked out the opportunities for spotting here, and what the airport had to offer.

Whilst it is the busiest in Vermont, Burlington is not a major airport by any means, handling about 640,000 passengers in 2014. But it does have some interesting movements and aircraft to see.

Burlington has two runways – 15/33 is the main strip which most movements use, whereas 1/19 is a smaller cross runway used by light aircraft movements.

On the north side of the airport is the Burlington Air National Guard base, which is home to a squadron of F-16 jets. There are a few historic jets preserved outside, which can be seen from the terminal and car parks.

The main airlines flying to Burlington are Allegiant Air, American Eagle, Delta/Delta Connection, JetBlue, Porter Airlines and United/United Express. Most of these use commuter regional jets, but larger types are common in the summer months on seasonal services. On my visit there were four airliner movements, two each by American Eagle and Delta Connection, and both using Bombardier CRJ aircraft.

FedEx is the main cargo operator, and on my visit a Boeing 757 freighter was parked outside the cargo hangar. Close to it were around six business jets parked up.

General aviation and flight training is popular at Burlington, with aircraft parked up to the south of the terminal.



Spotting at Burlington

Surprisingly I found that spotting at Burlington was not a problem, and in fact there were facilities in place to aid in watching aircraft!

Spotting at Burlington - Dog Walking Park

Spotting at Burlington – Dog Walking Park

I had already noted the Air National Guard base before visiting, so decided to keep a low profile when it came to pointing cameras and binoculars about. My first stop was the Dog Walking Park situated on the western side of the runway about half a mile north west of the terminal. It is at the end of Kirby Road, and has car parking alongside the enclosed park which faces the airport perimeter fence, runway and parallel taxiway. This was a great spot to take some pictures of aircraft at close quarters as they taxied for takeoff, and didn’t seem to raise any suspicion from people walking dogs.

Spotting at Burlington - Car Park

Spotting at Burlington – Car Park

A seat for watching the aircraft in the multi-storey car park at Burlington Airport.

A seat for watching the aircraft in the multi-storey car park at Burlington Airport.

Next, I drove to the airport’s multi-storey car park and made my way to the highest level from where you have a grandstand view over the airfield. You can see the runways, Air National Guard base, cargo apron and light aircraft parking. Aircraft parked at the terminal gates are obscured, but you can see them if they taxi. Around half way up the car park, I found a park bench situated in one of the corners for those who want to watch the aircraft.

Spotting at Burlington

The seating area in the walkway from the car park

Inside the terminal there are three areas for watching aircraft. The first is the northern walkway from the car park, which has seats overlooking one of the gates.

Spotting at Burlington

Seats next to the windows inside the terminal.

At the southern end of the terminal is a room which also has seats facing a window looking over some more gates.

Spotting at Burlington Observation Tower

Spotting at Burlington Observation Tower

In what was presumably the former control tower, an observation room has been created. I found it by chance, but it is signposted and accessed via a steep set of stairs. Inside you have views over the whole airfield. The glass is slanted, but acceptable for photography. It was nice to see an airport in the USA providing opportunities to watch aircraft in comfort!

Finally, continuing south from the terminal along Airport Dr, you will see some light aircraft parked on remote areas not visible from the other locations. The small Eldredge Cemetery and its access road have views through the fence.



Boston Spotting Hotel – Hilton Boston Logan Airport

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in North America, Spotting Hotels, USA | Posted on 29-10-2015


Boston spotting hotel

I recently visited Boston and checked out the Hilton Boston Logan hotel for its spotting opportunities.

Based on previous research, this seemed like the best Boston spotting hotel, so I was looking forward to what it offered.

The hotel is situated behind the terminal complex and multi-storey parking garages. It is linked via the public walkway from terminals A and E, making it easy to walk directly from your flight to the hotel lobby.

It has nine floors and two wings in a L shape.

Rooms on the higher floors are naturally the best options, with the top floor being the Executive Level. My room was on the eighth floor and I had the choice of facing either the Terminal A cul-de-sac, or Terminal E and the biz jet area. I chose the latter in the hope of seeing more movements on the distant runways.

In reality, over the three days of my stay the runway usage switched regularly, and with Boston’s criss-cross of four main runways this means you’ll be looking in different directions all the time. It also means that you’ll be able to see most movements from either side of the hotel. Aircraft arriving and departing are a little distant unless you have a good pole or binoculars. For those who are happy with SBS or Flightradar24 you’ll be able to tie everything up easily (albeit with a 5 minute delay on many flights using FR24).

View from my room of Terminal E and the biz jet ramp.

View from my room of Terminal E and the biz jet ramp.

From my room I had a great view of the ever changing range of biz jets. There were usually 5-10 parked up at any time. I could also see aircraft using the international Terminal E, and aircraft being towed to/from the maintenance hangars and remote parking stands used by day-stopping airliners.

View of the Terminal A cul-de-sac.

View of the Terminal A cul-de-sac.

If you don’t choose a room facing the cul-de-sac, don’t worry – the windows next to the elevators have the same view, with seats and an amazing view of the Boston skyline. You can easily read off the Delta and Southwest airliners parked here.


The Hilton Boston Logan is probably the best Boston spotting hotel you’ll find, although I’d be happy to hear reviews from any of the others. In addition to the walkways from the terminal, the hotel offers a courtesy shuttle to all terminals, the T subway station, and rental car lot.

Too book a room at the Hilton Boston Logan head to this page.




Oklahoma City Will Rogers building observation deck

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, North America, Spotting News, USA | Posted on 13-10-2015


Oklahoma City observation deck

As part of plans to expand its terminal Oklahoma City’s Will Rogers Airport will incorporate a public observation deck.

As well as expanding its security and retail areas, the airport will add a new concourse to its terminal, adding four gates initially. These will open in 2018, allowing the airport to attract more airlines and services. It is also hoped that the improvements to the terminal will allow it to avoid impending over-crowding as the airport has seen continued growth for many of the past ten years.

The public observation deck will be built into the terminal in an elevated area which offers views of the aircraft movements around the terminal. It is thought that this will be an enclosed area behind glass, but this is nevertheless a very welcome addition.

Oklahoma City Observation Deck

Will Rogers saw 3.8 million passengers in 2014, with United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, Delta and Allegiant as the principal operators.

The airport is also a busy cargo hub for FedEx, UPS and Ameriflight.

Hopefully the views from the Oklahoma City observation deck will allow all movements to be seen and the possibility of photography. It is definitely a welcome addition to the spotting options at the airport.


JFK TWA Terminal to Become Hotel

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, North America, Spotting Hotels, Spotting News, USA | Posted on 01-09-2015



Built to ‘capture the spirit of flight’, Eero Saarinen’s masterpiece TWA Flight Center terminal at New York JFK airport is set to enjoy a new lease of life as it is redeveloped as a hotel. Whats more, there is potential for it becoming a valued spotting location at JFK.

The iconic building was constructed between 1956 and 1962 for use by TWA and features unique curves and spaces unlike any other terminal seen before or since. Inside, passengers flowed through space-age halls and up curving staircases before boarding their flights on what was then one of the country’s most important airlines.



However, since TWA was absorbed into American Airlines in 2001 the terminal has been left unused as a time capsule of days gone by. The new Jetblue terminal 5 was built to replace the TWA terminal, leaving it landlocked from the coming and going of passengers and aircraft. Its small size would mean it is no longer up to the demands put on JFK, but with its protected status a future was sought for the building to bring it back into use.

Now finally details have been revealed about how the building is to be turned into the TWA Flight Center Hotel. It will see the structure retained, with a 505-room facility built alongside. The original building will act as a lobby, and it will also feature a large meeting space, up to eight dining facilities, and a large observation deck to watch aircraft action.

Yes, you heard right – a viewing area at JFK airport!

Now, you’ll know if you’ve read our Spotting at New York JFK guide, that there are no official areas to watch aircraft for enthusiasts and families waving off relatives at this huge and interesting airport. So the promise that these facilities will be incorporated into the JFK TWA terminal are a little mouthwatering to say the least.


An impression of how the hotel will look

What this will look like is still very much unknown, but I’ll be making enquiries about what we can expect and giving you updates as construction progresses.

The CEO of MCR Development, the company working on the structure, said the hotel “will celebrate and preserve” the building, “returning the landmark to its original glory and reopening it to the public. […] Whether staying the night or simply exploring, international visitors and New Yorkers alike will be able to experience the magic of the Jet Age in this extraordinary mid-century icon.”

This to me sounds like viewing aircraft will be for everyone, and not just hotel guests.


Final US Airways flight scheduled

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, North America, USA | Posted on 17-08-2015


American US Airways merger

US Airways will perform a ceremonial final scheduled flight on 16th October 2015 to mark the end of the transition into American Airlines.

The two carriers have been merging for the past few years and now operate under one Air Operator’s Certificate, with many aircraft already having been painted into the colours of American.

From 17th October all flights will transition to the AA/AAL flight numbers (although many aircraft still need to be painted).

To mark the occasion a US Airways Airbus A321 will operate four sectors across the country as flight US1939, before the code is retired.

The flight US Airways flight number is significant as 1939 was the year the company can trace its ancestry to, when All American Aviation was founded.

The four flight sectors are:

  • 1005 Philadelphia – Charlotte 1204
  • 1435 Charlotte – Phoenix 1601
  • 1710 Phoenix – San Francisco 1912
  • 2155 San Francisco – Philadelphia 0618 (17th October) – the final landing.

It is anticipated that events will be planned at each location, presumably in the gate areas, and for passengers on board.

The flight is open for booking at present (US Airways website), but is likely to fill up soon.

It will be a shame to see another key American carrier disappear, but it’s great that they have planned a special event like this to commemorate.

I will be flying a former US Airways flight from Boston to New York a few days after this on what will presumably be an aircraft still wearing the original colours. Here’s hoping!


Airlines of the USAAirlines of the USA

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Air Canada Rouge Airbus A321 routes

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Canada, Mexico, North America, USA | Posted on 08-08-2015


Air Canada Rouge

Air Canada Rouge will begin operating Airbus A321 aircraft on 16 December this year.

The aircraft will initially be introduced on the following routes:

Montreal – Las Vegas from 16 December
Montreal – Ft. Lauderdale from 18 December
Toronto – Punta Cana from 14 – 31 January 2016
Toronto – Tampa from 14 January – 7 February 2016
Toronto – Ft. Lauderdale from 15 January
Toronto – Sarasota from 1 February 2016
Toronto – Varadero from 1 February 2016
Toronto – Phoenix from 8 February 2016

At present Rouge operates Airbus A319s and Boeing 767-300s. It will initially take five A321s.

The New LaGuardia Airport is Unveiled

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, North America, USA | Posted on 28-07-2015



Most travellers will concede that New York’s LaGuardia Airport is no longer fit for purpose. What was once a futuristic and flagship airport is now crowded and bursting at the seams. Vice President Joe Biden even compared it to a “third world country” a year ago.

However, an ambitious plan to completely revitalise and rebuild the airport has been unveiled which will address its key problems and outdated terminals.

The airport site, which is crammed between the busy Grand Central Parkway and the East River, will not change or grow. Nor will its two runways, 04/22 and 13/31, which will continue to operate during the changes.

The plan will see the systematic demolition of LaGuardia’s existing three terminals, B, C and D, and a new single structure built in stages to replace them. This will stretch closer to the Parkway, allowing more space to be created for aircraft to maneuver around their gates, and the addition of new taxiways. Passengers will access some gates via aerial walkways over the aprons and taxiways (and aircraft) below, similar to that at London Gatwick.

Construction on the first phase of the project would begin next year, pending final approval by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the airport. A second phase would be overseen by Delta Air Lines, which has agreed to the plans for rebuilding the terminals as LaGuardia’s dominant operator.

This video shows an interesting view of what the redeveloped airport will look like:

LaGuardia’s terminals were voted the worst in the country by Travel and Leisure magazine in most categories, including check-in, security and cleanliness. However, the new single terminal will feature wide open, bright spaces, new concessions and improvements in all aspects of the passenger experience.

“This is what New Yorkers deserve and have deserved for a long time. And now we’re going to get it,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said. He added “It’s slow, it’s dated, it has a terrible front-door entrance way to New York.”

The first remade portions of the airport would open to passengers in 2019. The existing Marine Terminal – a historic monument – will be retained and developed into a high-speed water taxi hub.

At present LaGuardia has some opportunities for spotters on the roads around the airport, and this is likely to still be the case (see my new World Airports Spotting Guides book for tips on spotting at LaGuardia Airport). However, what the new terminal will offer remains to be seen. The old Central Terminal Building was a great place for watching aircraft movements, but is sadly no more.


Two new airport bases for Allegiant Air, at Asheville and Cincinnati

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, North America, USA | Posted on 27-07-2015


Allegiant A320

Allegiant Air will establish two new aircraft bases as it continues to expand its offering across the United States.

The airline will open bases as Asheville Regional Airport in North Carolina, and Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International Airport.

Asheville will commence on September 1, 2015, with a single aircraft based. It will initially offer better connections for existing routes to Orlando Sanford, Punta Gorda, and St. Petersburg-Clearwater.

Three Airbus A319s will be based at Cincinnatie from 2016, allowing the airline to grow from its current 11 destinations and offer more frequencies.

“The Greater Cincinnati area has quickly become one of our strongest markets with a demonstrated demand for low-cost vacation travel,” said Jude Bricker, senior vice president of planning, Allegiant Travel Company. “The establishment of an aircraft base at Northern Kentucky International Airport will further increase the efficiency of our operations, while continuing our drive to be Cincinnati’s leading low-fare carrier.”

Allegiant is also expanding elsewhere, with new routes from Memphis to Austin-Bergstrom and St. Petersburg-Clearwater from October.

At present, a mix of Airbus A319/20, Boeing 757 and McDonnell Douglas MD-83/88 equipment is used, mainly from regional airports, but with an increasing focus on primary airports.