Where to Spot at Manchester Airport
Manchester Airport is the third busiest airport in the United Kingdom, and the busiest in the north of the country.
It is a hub for long-haul, low-cost and holiday flights in particular, but also sees plenty of European and domestic links.
Here’s a guide on where to spot at Manchester Airport…
Main Airlines at Manchester
- Monarch Airlines
- Thomas Cook Airlines
- Thomson Airways
- Virgin Atlantic
(click on map to navigate)
1. South Side
One of the most popular locations for locals and photographers. There is a footpath which runs along the southern perimeter of the airport. It is possible to climb up to a mound which is above the fenceline and looks on to the newer runway 23L/05R and take fantastic shots of aircraft lining up for departure, or taxying off the runway after landing. You don’t even need a very long lens for these movements.
Be aware that this runway is only used for part of the day – usually first thing and then on the afternoon.
How to get there: From the airport head towards the M56 southbound, and then follow the turn off for Wilmslow and Cargo. Take the A538 Wilmslow Road under the runway tunnels, and turn left immediately after . You can park your car in the car park of the Airport Inn, or the road leading off the roundabout. Then, it’s a short walk along the footpath (which can be muddy) up towards the runway and fence.
2. Runway Visitor Park
The official viewing area provided by the airport. It’s pretty popular with locals and families, and spotters enjoy the preserved aircraft (Concorde, Trident, DC-10, Nimrod and Avro RJX). There are some raised mounds which help with photography, and aircraft taxi past pretty close. You have views towards terminals 1 and 3, and any runway movements are visible.
On site there is also an aviation hobby shop and cafe/restaurant.
Photography is often into sun. There are charges for parking, depending on how long you stay. If you arrive by foot or public transport it’s free.
How to get there: From the airport head towards the M56 southbound, and then follow the turn off for Wilmslow and Cargo. There are signs for the Runway Visitor Park, which is down a narrow lane past a pub and church. You can also travel to the Runway Visitor Park on bus #200 from the airport station.
3. Multi-Storey Car Park
The multi-storey car park linked to Terminal 1 is another popular place for spotters. Level 13 (the open-air top floor) has the best views over Terminal 2 and the remote parking areas and cargo apron, as well as Pier C of Terminal 1. Authorities understand that spotters use this location, but be subtle with the use of complex cameras and binoculars. Some holes in the fence make photography easier.
How to get there: Follow signs for Terminal 1 and drive into the multi-storey car park. Head to the roof.
4. Airport Pub and Grill
Another popular spot with locals is the pub at the end of runway 23R. It has been here for years, but recently has been turned into a gastro-pub. Spotters are welcome to use the garden or conservatory for spotting as long as you are buying food and/or drinks, and you are required to pay for parking in the car park.
Views of aircraft approaching the runway and lining up for takeoff are very close. Unfortunately the fence precludes photography, but it’s great for logging.
How to get there: The pub is on Ringway Road, which is easy to reach from the terminals area as it heads towards nearby residential areas. The pub’s postcode is M22 5WH
Manchester Airport Website: http://www.manchesterairport.co.uk/
Airport Pub & Grill Website: https://www.robinsonsbrewery.com/pubs-inns-and-hotels/find-a-pub/a-e/airport
The Aviation Society, Manchester: http://www.tasmanchester.co.uk/
Runway Visitor Park: http://www.manchesterairport.co.uk/at-the-airport/attractions/runway-visitor-park/