For a perfect overview to spotting in the USA, or a dedicated trip to nail many of those huge airline fleets of the main carriers, you should take a tour of the best, most accommodating spotting locations.
In our new book, Airport Spotting Guides USA (2nd Edition) we cover where to spot at hundreds of airports around America. But these locations are what we would consider the essential and best of them all.
Founders Plaza, Dallas Fort Worth
A rare official spotting location at a major US airport. Founders Plaza is under the approach to the airport off location and great for logging and photographing the endless American Airlines fleets which come and go (as well as some interesting other airlines) at Dallas Fort Worth.
Imperial Hill, Los Angeles LAX
Probably the best spotting location at LAX. Imperial Hill is on the south side of the airport with a good view over the southern runways and terminals. Photography is possible with a good lens, and you can log most movements. The area is popular with spotters and has benches, but can be a little exposed to the sun.
Museum of Flight, Seattle Boeing Field
Boeing Field near downtown Seattle is where the manufacturer prepares its 737 line for delivery, and performs a lot of testing. The airport also sees a lot of cargo and corporate aircraft traffic. Every enthusiast should visit this museum for its historic exhibits, and also to enjoy the views of the main runway from its car park and observation tower.
Gravelly Point, Washington Reagan NationalWashington Reagan is hemmed in on all sides by the city and Potomac River. Because of the sensitive nature of its surroundings (you can almost see the White House from here), aircraft make a convoluted approach. Just north of the airport is a public park known as Gravelly Point. You can walk there in 10-15 minutes from the terminals. Once there, aircraft pass low overhead, and you can see along the runways.
Parking Garage, Fort Lauderdale International
Fort Lauderdale is a growing airport located in the sun of southern Florida. While Miami might have a better mix of traffic, FLL is by no means quiet. This location atop the parking garages outside the terminals is officially recognised, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble spotting and photographing here.
Renaissance Concourse Hotel, Atlanta
You will need to spend some money to enjoy this location, but when you consider that Atlanta is pretty much the busiest airport in the world, and home of the gigantic Delta Air Lines fleet it should be worth it. The hotel’s location gives rooms a grandstand view over the airport movements – particularly on the nearer runways. Photography is not brilliant, but if you’re a registration spotter you’ll come away happy.
Sunset Road, Las Vegas
It’s often too hot to be outside for long at Las Vegas McCarran Airport, so take plenty of liquids with you when visiting this location.
The sunlight and mix of traffic make it a great place to visit when taking a break from the bars and casinos. You’ll come away with some good photographs of aircraft landing and lining up for take-off.
Cargo Road Viewing Area, Minneapolis St Paul
A recent and welcome addition to the official spotting locations at MSP, opened in 2015. This viewing area is in the centre of the airfield, behind the FedEx cargo buildings. There are parking spaces and views across runways 12R/30L and 04/22, as well as part of Terminal 1 and most of Terminal 2. Access to the viewing area is from the west side of the airport. To get there 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 FedEx facility. It is free to enter.