Home Spotting News 8 Bucket List Trips to Make 2021 your Best Spotting Year Yet!

8 Bucket List Trips to Make 2021 your Best Spotting Year Yet!

by Matt Falcus

It seems most of us have had to write off 2020 in terms of enjoying our hobby and getting some serious spotting done. While the year has had plenty of highlights and points of aviation interest, most of these have been as a result of Covid-19, or affected by it.

But with vaccines and air travel once again seeming possible, it’s time to make plans for the best trips to make next year your best spotting year yet!


Storage Airports

Teruel Airport. Photo (c) Erik Ritterbach

A result of Covid-19 is that many of the world’s airlines have parked large parts of their aircraft fleets up pending reactivation or ultimately disposal. With the airline industry likely to remain contracted for a number of years yet, these aircraft are probably likely to stay grounded. So visiting these storage locations is a good way to catch up with these aircraft in one place.

Best in America include Victorville and Mojave in California, plus Marana, Tucson and Goodyear in Arizona. In Europe, head for Teruel and Castellon and Ciudad Real in Spain, plus Kemble and St Athan in the UK.


Fly the A380

Emirates A380

If you haven’t already, 2021 should be the year to fly on an Airbus A380. This superjumbo has become something of an outsider thanks to dwindling passenger numbers, and many airlines have opted to retire the type. Thankfully some airlines, like British Airways and Emirates, still have theirs in action. So go fly one before it’s too late!


Visit Somewhere New

Sydney Spotting

Sydney’s new Shep’s Mound spotting tower.

Are there any parts of the world or airports that have been on your wish list for a while? This might be the opportunity to treat yourself to a trip of a lifetime. At the moment air travel is very affordable and some great deals can be had all over the world as airlines try to generate whatever income they can.

Tip: Keep an eye on sites like Secret Flying for amazing low price offers on airlines and routes


Support Aviation Museums

A victim of coronavirus has been the tourism and heritage sectors, with many aviation museums being forced to close and struggling to find the money to employ staff or protect their exhibits. As guardians of some of our most important aviation heritage, including iconic and historic aircraft, it’s vital we support these establishments. So if there are any aviation museums you’ve been meaning to visit, or any you want go back to, try to do it as soon as it’s permitted.


Enjoy an Amazing Spotting Hotel

Photo (c) Martyn Cartledge

For aircraft spotters, staying in a good hotel with an amazing views can be an experience in its own right. There are so many great ones to experience, from the famous like the Renaissance Concourse at Atlanta, the Renaissance at London Heathrow and the new TWA Hotel at New York JFK. There are also some lesser-known examples, like the Haneda Excel Hotel Tokyo, the Sheraton Gateway at Toronto Pearson or the Hotel Matiz at Sao Paulo Guarulhos.

Spotting hotels let you relax in your own surroundings, staying warm, and spotting late into the night or early morning.

[Airport Spotting Hotels 2nd Edition – Our Essential Guide Book]


Seek Out a Rare Airliner

Skyclass DC-4 in South Africa.

There are still some rare and unusual airliners flying passengers around the world. Your air travel doesn’t need to be only about Airbus and Boeing jets!

Why not book a flight on something historic, or a type you haven’t flown for years, before it’s gone forever? Some tasty examples include Douglas DC-9s in Kenya, Fokker 50s in Antwerp, Boeing 737-200s in Canada, Ilyushin Il-96 in Cuba, Douglas DC-4 in South Africa and Shorts 360 in the Caribbean.

AirportSpotting Premium Members have access to our up-to-date Last Chance to Fly eBook which lists all known operators of rare and historic aircraft types!


Longest and Shortest Flights

Singapore Airlines A350 ULR

Why not make 2021 the year you fly on the world’s longest and shortest commercial flights? The longest, at the time of writing, is Singapore Airlines’ non-stop route from Singapore to New York using its special Airbus A350-900ULR aircraft. It covers 15,344km.

The shortest flight is still the link between Westray and Papa Westray in Scotland’s Orkney Islands. It is operated by Loganair using a Britten Norman Islander aircraft, and takes a little over a minute depending on the wind direction.


Explore Asia

Thai AirAsia. Photo (c) Erik Ritterbach

Asia is a great place for spotting. It has some of the world’s largest and busiest airports, most interesting airlines, with large fleets. In some Asian countries it is also popular to have viewing areas, so you can spot easily.

A great way to explore Asia by air is using the AirAsia Unlimited Pass. This gives you unlimited flights on AirAsia’s network (with some restrictions). Even if it doesn’t cover where you want to fly, you can easily book cheap flights within Asia, or try out a full service airline and a new aircraft type.

Asia’s big hubs worth visiting include Bangkok, Singapore, Tokyo Haneda and Narita, Shanghai Pudong, Beijing Capital, Hong Kong and Taipei Taoyuan.


Where are you planning on going spotting in 2021? Leave a comment below.



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King F Hui January 7, 2021 - 8:44 pm

Airport apron facing rooms at Haneda Excel Hotel Tokyo cost more than double of the regular room NOT facing the apron. This hotel is overpriced and TOTALLY not worth it. Spotters can stay in a hotel close to HND and take the shuttle bus into the airport and spot at the FREE open air terraces. After one night stay at Haneda Excel Hotel non-apron facing room, I move to Hotel JAL City Haneda just outside the airport ground at half the price of Excel Hotel. One can take the hotel shuttle or take the public train into HND terminals.

King F Hui January 7, 2021 - 8:53 pm

Spotting at Taipei, Taiwan, one should not miss the downtown Taipei Shogshan airport TSA. Also highly recommend hiking up the hill on the other side of TSA. Take a bus or taxi to Grand Taipei Hotel, walk all the way to the back of the hotel and pass the banquet hall building. A well marked and concrete trail (Jiantanshan Hiking Trail Entrance 劍潭山登山口) up to the microwave tower.

Matt Falcus January 7, 2021 - 8:54 pm

Thanks King!


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