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

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JFK-TWA-Terminal

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.

TWA-Flight-Center

TWA-FlightCenter

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.

TWA-MCRDevelopment

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

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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

Find out about the history of US Airways, American Airlines and many more carriers from the USA in my book, Airlines of the USA, available now.

Buy Now

Air Canada Rouge Airbus A321 routes

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

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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

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LaGuardia-New-Terminal

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

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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.

FedEx Keeping the 767 Alive

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, North America, USA | Posted on 22-07-2015

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FedEx 767-300

FedEx Express and Boeing have announced a significant order for 50 767-300F aircraft.

The airline has also taken 50 further options of the type.

Deliveries of these aircraft will begin in 2018 and complete in 2023.

This is a major boost for the type which has all but disappeared from order books, particularly in its passenger configuration. Lately, only cargo deliveries have been taking place, along with development of military variants. The 767 is built at Boeing’s Everett Paine Field production facility.

This new order will keep the type alive for another eight years at least, adding to the existing fleet of 767s FedEx has in service and on order. They will be used to replace older Airbus A300, A310 and McDonnell Douglas DC-10 aircraft being retired.

10 Airports You Need to Visit

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Asia, Colombia, Eastern Europe, France, Frankfurt, Germany, North America, North Korea, Portugal, South America, Turkey, UK, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 05-07-2015

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The world is full of such a variety of airports and each has its own appeal to spotters. I’ve put together this list of airports which every spotter should try to visit at some time to help enrich their aviation interests and make the most of their hobby.

 

1. Everett Paine Field

Paine Field Spotting

Home of Boeing’s widebodie production lines and the world’s largest building – currently responsible for producing 747s, 777s, 787s and the occasional 767. Once aircraft have been completed they are taken to the paint assembly building, and then placed outside whilst final preparations are made.

Aircraft undertake testing regularly once complete, so you’ll always see something of interest using the airport’s single main runway.

Aircraft that have been completed are sometimes placed in storage at the airport – seen recently with some early 787s and 747-8s. You may also be lucky to see the first Boeing 727 aircraft, which is preserved at the airport, along with a De Havilland Comet 4 and some other historic aircraft.

Head to the Future of Flight centre for a grandstand view over the airport. Here’s a post about spotting at Paine Field.

 

2. Pyongyang

Pyongyang Line-Up

It’s not the busiest, and some might be a little sensitive about the way North Korea is run, but purely from an enthusiast’s point of view this is a very interesting place. Air Koryo, the national carrier, still flies classic Russian types such as the Tu-134, Tu-154, Tu-204, IL-62 and IL-18.

Pyongyang airport recently opened its brand new terminal, which looks much more akin to those found in the West. But to be able to experience the aircraft here you’ll need to take part in an organised tour, such as those on offer with Juche Travel Service.

 

3. London City

London City Airport Morning Ramp

The British capital is served by many airports, but London City is by far one of the world’s more unusual. Built on a former dock at the heart of the city, it makes for a challenging and restricted environment to operate large airliners in. Yet every day aircraft arrive from across Europe, and even New York. Its location among the skyscrapers of London’s financial district means the short runway requires a steep approach angle and only certified aircraft are permitted to operate there.

It’s easy to watch aircraft come and go here from the docks opposite the runway, or under the approach paths at either end.

Here’s a post about London City Behind The Scenes.

 

4. Los Angeles International

LosAngeles-LAX

With California’s amazing climate, endless sunshine, and an incredible mix of aircraft, LAX should be on anyone’s list of must-visit airports.

Los Angeles has four runways and nine passenger terminals. Each major US airline has a decent presence here, as well as large airliners from across the globe, and leisure airlines from Mexico, Hawaii and the Caribbean. On the south side of the airport, cargo airliners and biz jets complete the lineup.

Head to Imperial Hill or the In ‘n’ Out Burger restaurant for the best views. Here’s a post about spotting at Los Angeles.

 

5. Frankfurt Main

Frankfurt Terminal 2 Visitors Terrace

Germany’s busiest airport, and one of the main gateways to Europe. Like LAX, its mix is mouthwatering to the enthusiast, comprising all main European carriers, low-cost airlines, leisure carriers, cargo, regional, and long-haul traffic.

Spotting is not as good here as in days gone by, but the airport still provides two official locations – at Terminal 2 and alongside runway 18 – and there are some other good spots to watch aircraft.

 

6. Toulouse Blagnac

A350 © Airbus S.A.S 2013 Photo by H. Goussé

Europe’s busiest aircraft manufacturing airport. Most Airbus A319, A320, A330, A340 and A380 aircraft are constructed here, as well as ATR turboprops. Regular airline traffic isn’t much to write home about, but who cares when you’ve got airliners destined for all corners of the globe undergoing completion and flight testing in the southern France sun?

There are various places to watch aircraft around the airport perimeter, and an official viewing deck at the terminal. Plus, you can arrange tours of the Airbus plant, and visit historic aircraft at the on-site museum.

 

7. Funchal

By Thomas Klein (Own work (own photography)) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Thomas Klein (Own work (own photography)) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

When space is limited, sometimes the only option is to build your airport runway on stilts. That’s exactly what heppend at Funchal, on the Portuguese island of Madeira in the Atlantic Ocean. When demand from leisure airlines grew, the runway was extended out from the cliff-side that it occupies to allow larger aircraft to be handled. The position of this airport also means aircraft take an interesting approach path before landing, often in crosswind conditions.

Spotters can position themselves on the hillside above the runway for some excellent photographs and videos.

 

8. Phoenix Deer Valley

Phoenix Deer Valley

Unlike other airports on this list, Deer Valley isn’t on the route map of lots of scheduled airlines or a place to see the latest Dreamliners and Airbus A380s. Yet it is one of the busiest airports in the world. In particular, it is actually the busiest airport in the world for biz jet movements, according to recent statistics.

So if you’re looking for something different, or like to log and photograph Citations, Global Expresses and Gulfstreams, this is the place to head to.

The Arizona airport has two runways and is in the north east of the city. You can watch movements from the official observation deck on top of the terminal building, which even pipes in ATC broadcasts.

 

9. Bogota

Bogota

Probably the most interesting of South America’s main airports. Bogota, in Colombia, is a hub for Aviana, LAN Colombia, Copa Airlines and VivaColombia. This is great in itself, but the airport is also one of the last bastions for some older jets, like Boeing 727s of AeroSucre and Lineas Aereas Suramericanas, and F-28s and DC-3s of the Colombian Government.

The airport also has a nice collection of preserved aircraft on the military side of the airport.

Spotting is possible inside the terminal, or from the end of the runways if you have a car.

 

10. Istanbul Ataturk

Istanbul Spotting

Europe’s latest up-and-coming airport thanks mainly to the explosive growth of Turkish Airlines, which is trying to emulate what Middle East carriers are doing in connecting east and west. As such, this main base for the airline (it also operates from nearby Sabiha Gokcen Airport) sees a constant stream of the carrier’s red tails coming and going.

Traffic comprises a good mix of European and long-haul flights, with the vast majority naturally made up of Turkish Airlines and AtlasJet. The draw for enthusiasts is the growing fleet of the national airline, and the opportunity for photography in the warm climate. A good mix of cargo carriers can also be seen.

There are a number of places to spot from round the perimeter, as well as the excellent FlyInn shopping mall which is great for viewing and photographing aircraft from the cafe balcony. There is also a nice aviation museum on the southern boundary.

 

World Airports Spotting Guides

World Airports Spotting Guide

My upcoming book, World Airports Spotting Guides covers over 300 of the world’s airports, including details on what you can see there, and where to spot from. Many of the guides also include the best spotting hotels and aviation museum attractions. Find out more and pre-order the book here: http://www.destinworld.co.uk/products/world-airport-spotting-guides/

Norwegian adding US – Caribbean flights

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Caribbean, North America, USA | Posted on 26-06-2015

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Norwegian 737-800

Norwegian will introduce flights from the USA to Caribbean destinations this winter, expanding its Boeing 737 services away from Europe for the first time.

The airline, which offers Europe – USA long haul flights using its 787 Dreamliners, will now add flights from Boston Logan, New York JFK and Baltimore/Washington to Guadeloupe and Martinique.

All of the flights will be flown by Boeing 737-800 aircraft using its European crews.

Flights commence on 3 December, and make use of Open Skies treaties because of the French ownership of the two Caribbean islands.

Norwegian has stated that this will make good use of the slower Winter schedule in Europe, where carriers such as Ryanair often park aircraft for extended periods.

Another Dreamliner donated to a museum

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Asia, Japan, North America, Spotting News, USA | Posted on 25-06-2015

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Boeing has donated another of its prototype 787 Dreamliner aircraft to a museum.

This time the first prototype to fly, ZA001 / N787BA, has been sent to Japan for preservation!

The aircraft flew from Seattle to Nagoya Chubu Airport on 22nd June, where it will be put on display and made accessible to the public. Fittingly two of the crew members who flew this aircraft on the 787s maiden flight in 2009 were the ones to ferry it to Japan.

Japan had a lot of involvement in the 787 programme, helping to fund development. Its two main carriers, ANA and Japan Air Lines, were also the first to operate the type commercially.

Two other Dreamliners were recently donated to museums, with ZA002 / N787EX sent to the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, AZ, and ZA003 / N787BX retired at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

 

Where to spot at New York JFK Airport

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, North America, USA | Posted on 27-05-2015

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Spotting at JFK

A while back we ran a request for tips on the best places to spot at New York JFK airport, and some of you kindly sent in information and photographs to help put together this guide.

Since the airport is such a complex place, it is quite difficult to spot at. But because it is one of the most diverse and interesting of any airport in the USA, it has an attraction to spotters who can find themselves number crunching the fleets of US carriers, catching up on cargo heavies, or admiring the airlines from all corners of the globe which arrive each day.

 

 

Airport Location and Layout

New York City Airports

JFK airport is situated in Queens, on Long Island. It is 12 miles from Lower Manhattan. Jamaica Bay borders the southern side of the airport, whilst urban sprawl borders the north.

The airport is connected to the road and rail network, and the best way to get to Manhattan is via the AirTrain. Otherwise taxis or car hire are good, if more expensive, options.

JFK airport has four runways:

  • 04L/22R
  • 04R/22L
  • 13L/31R
  • 13R/31L

Each runway is used depending on the airline and proximity to its gate, but at least half of all movements use 13R/31L.

JFK has six passenger terminals:

  • Terminal 1 – Asian and European carriers. A380 equipped.
  • Terminal 2 – Delta / Delta Connection
  • Terminal 4 – Delta, plus Middle Eastern, Asian, European and South African carriers. A380 equipped.
  • Terminal 5 – Jetblue, plus Aer Lingus, Hawaiian Airlines
  • Terminal 7 – British Airways, ANA, United Airlines, Qantas, Icelandair, Aerolineas Argentinas and Oneworld partners.
  • Terminal 8 – American Airlines and Oneworld partners

All terminals are located in a central area, surrounded by runways.

JFK terminal layout

Cargo and maintenance areas can be found at the western part of the airport, largely hidden amongst a sea of hangars and service buildings.

 

What you’ll see at JFK

The main carriers at JFK are American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways and United Airlines. Together, these airlines handle nearly 70% of the passengers that fly though the airport each year. If you’re a registration spotter, these are the airlines you’re going to see the most aircraft of.

Spotters may also be interested in the good mix of airlines from elsewhere in the world. In addition to the main carriers of Europe and Asia, JFK is also a hub for South American and Caribbean flights, with Aeromexico, Avianca, Copa Airlines, LAN Airlines (and partners), TAM and Volaris.

Cargo airlines are also very prevalent, with very large freighters to be seen regularly. The main carriers are ABX, China Airlines, FedEx Express, Korean Air Cargo and Lufthansa Cargo. In all, around 100 cargo carriers use JFK.

 

Where to spot at New York JFK Airport

New York JFK spotting locations map

Locations away from the airport property are often the best for spotting at JFK, but require a car or a bit of knowledge of the public transportation system to get to.

Brookville Park Mounds
This position offers an elevated mound to the side of a school football field near Brookville Park where you can see arrivals on runway 22L or departures from 04R. It is good for photography and you won’t usually get any attention from the police by being here. To get to this spot, head for 230th Place and follow it to the end where you’ll see the school and field. This is an example arrival shot from this location.

Photo: Howard Chaloner

Photo: Howard Chaloner

 

Bayswater Park
A good place to monitor and photograph aircraft arrivals and departures on runways 04L, 04R and 31L. To find this spot, head for Mott Avenue in the residential district to the south of the airport. Head as far west as you can go, and you will reach Bayswater Park on the edge of Jamaica Bay. Simply park up, and then walk until you find a spot that suits you. This is a photograph from the location:

Photo: Howard Chaloner

Photo: Howard Chaloner

 

Inwood Park
A good afternoon spot for photography is Inwood Park, where you can watch and photograph runway 31L arrivals. You need to drive to Bayview Avenue and park at the end (it is signposted Inwood Park), then walk along the shore to get closer to the action. This is a photograph of the spot:

Photo: Howard Chaloner

Photo: Howard Chaloner

 

North Woodmere Park
A public park to the north east of the airport which is good for runway 22L and 31R arrivals logging, and photography with a long lens. The park is at the end of Hungry Harbor Road, and has a car park. You can then walk towards the path and find a spot. This is an example photograph from here:

Photo: Howard Chaloner

Photo: Howard Chaloner

 

 

On Airport Spotting

On-airport locations are a bit more restrictive.  Parking lots 2 & 5 offer some nice views, but the security company which looks after them can be a bit difficult with respect to photography (even though the TSA and PANYNJ don’t have a problem with it!).

 

Spotting in the Terminals

Tim Chaloner offered this advice on spotting in Terminal 4:

Since they changed the internal security area layout a few years ago, you can now walk the entire length of both the A & B concourses, once you have passed through security for your flight. These concourses provide excellent views of Terminal 4’s aprons, as well as views of runways 22L/4R and 22R/4L. Views of 31L/13R and 31R/13L are more distant or hidden. Photography is of course through glass windows, and reflections can be a problem in some areas.

In my view, the prime location in Terminal 4 is at the end of the A concourse by gates 9 & 10. It gives a great view of the 4/22 runways and most movements can be monitored. Also, the sun is behind you in the afternoons. Photography is possible from here, but a zoom would be needed for aircraft on the taxiways and runways, and there is a lot of ground clutter and light poles to contend with. Also, the Emirates A380 is parked in front of these windows during the day, so can naturally block some of the view, but it does make for a great photo with the afternoon sun on it!

The above location is obviously only accessible if you are departing on a flight from Terminal 4. That is why I often fly on Virgin Atlantic in order to secure these views. Delta takes up most of the B concourse now, and they also have a Sky Lounge on top of the concourse, about half way down it’s length. This has an open air deck with views of the 4/22 runways and T4 aprons, but only faces in that direction, so anything behind this deck would not be viewable. Photography is through glass, and again, reflections are a problem. But it is open air with no roof, and cocktails can by ordered while lounging on the sofas!  The Delta Sky Club in this terminal also has an outdoor observation area ($50 entrance fee for non First/Business Class fliers), complete with chairs and a bar, and overlooks aircraft activity.

JFK Airport

 

New York JFK Spotting Hotels

A great way to catch as many aircraft registrations as possible, or to base yourself near the airport for daytime spotting, is to use a nearby hotel with views. The best recommended spotting hotel at JFK airport is the Hilton Garden Inn Queens/JFK Airport.

JFK spotting hotel Hilton Garden Inn

Address: 148-18 134th St, Jamaica, NY 11430, United States
Phone:+1 718-322-4448
Website

This hotel is situated at the western side of the airport, and offers one of the few views of aircraft on the cargo aprons at JFK. You need to request an airport facing room on the highest floor to have a decent view. Runway 13L/31R is the nearest to the hotel, but movements on the others can be seen and logged, especially with the aid of SBS or flight tracking websites. The views can be a little distant for photography.

The hotel has a shuttle but linking it to the terminals at JFK, and can also be used to get to LaGuardia Airport.

 

 

I want to offer my thanks to Howard Chaloner for his help in putting this guide together, and for the pictures used.

We also recommend the excellent NYCaviation site for further reading and tips on spotting in the New York area.