Home Airport Spotting Guide London Gatwick Spotting Guide and Update

London Gatwick Spotting Guide and Update

by Matt Falcus

Turkish Airlines | Boeing 737-900ER | TC-JYL | London Gatwick

Gatwick is the UK’s second busiest airport, and a major hub serving London and the south east. It is situated at Crawley to the south of London, and is a hub for a number of airlines. It is the world’s busiest single-runway airport.

Sadly, despite the draw of so many aircraft, Gatwick is notoriously difficult to spot at, and a recent change has seen one of the only good spots made more difficult by the addition of an extra fence blocking the view at the end of runway 08R.

So, where can you spot at Gatwick? Here are some suggestions:


Gatwick Spotting Locations

1 Multi-Storey Car Park

Air Baltic / CS300 / YL-CSC / EGKK 08R

The top level of the Blue Multi-Storey car park 1 outside the South Terminal is a nice spot for logging aircraft on short finals to Runway 26L. Facing into the sun is not ideal, however. Signs at this location indicate that spotters are not welcome to loiter, and security will often move you on. A similar view exists from the platforms of the railway station.


2 Runway 26 Approach

C-GUDH WestJet Boeing 787-9 London Gatwick

From the Multi-Storey Car Park, spotters are often encouraged to go downstairs to a perimeter road/path running past the runway 26 approach lights. Previously you could go through the doors to Concorde House, down the stairs, through the door and then walk along the path. However, some recent reports state going through Concorde House is not possible, so you need to make your way downstairs in the terminal, following signs for Lost Property, then out through the tunnel leading to the path. From here you can see all movements approaching runway 26 or departing 08, but can see little of aircraft on the ground.


3 Runway 08R


Following Charlwood Road and Lowfield Heath Road (postcode RH11 0QB) around the end of Runway 08R leads to a crash gate which is close to aircraft lining up on the runway. It is possible to photograph or log aircraft on short final to land, however views of aircraft on the ground through the crash gate are now obscured by an additional fence. The only way around this is to bring a tall ladder to look over the fence either side, which may draw unwanted attention.

You can still see and photograph aircraft approaching the runway as they pass overhead.

Parking is not allowed near the gate itself so you will need to walk to reach it. You can also get the free bus to Purple Parking and walk the remaining distance.


4 Spotting Hotels

The view from the BLOC Hotel

There are two good spotting hotels at Gatwick. The BLOC Hotel in the South Terminal has panoramic views over the terminals and runway from many of its rooms.

Meanwhile the Sofitel at the North Terminal has rooms on the higher floors facing the airport.

[Read Our Review of the BLOC Hotel Gatwick]


Airlines at Gatwick

Gatwick is a hub for a number of airlines, including:

  • British Airways
  • easyJet
  • Norwegian
  • Thomas Cook Airlines
  • TUI Airways
  • Virgin Atlantic

Other interesting airlines flying in include Air Arabia Maroc, Air Italy, airBaltic, Aurigny, Belavia, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, China Eastern, Emirates (A380s), Iraqi Airways, LEVEL, Montenegro Airlines, Qatar Airways, Rossiya, RwandAir, Ukraine International, WestJet and Wizz Air.

A new Boeing maintenance hangar due for completion soon also promises to bring in other interesting aircraft on a regular basis.


Busiest Single Runway

Here’s a video demonstrating how ATC slots landing and departing aircraft into tight gaps on Gatwick’s single runway:


Other Useful Resources

Gatwick Airport Spotters Facebook Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/235472273160220/

Gatwick Aviation Society – http://www.gatwickaviationsociety.org.uk

Gatwick Aviation Museum – http://gatwick-aviation-museum.co.uk/


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ALAN EDWARDS July 13, 2019 - 3:43 pm

I think the picture of the Virgin A330 at spot 3 was actually taken at BGI. Many years ago it used to be possible to take pictures like that at LGW but not since the double fence went up.

Matt Falcus July 13, 2019 - 6:48 pm

Thanks Alan, I’ve changed it to a different one!

Gatwick Plans to Bring Emergency Runway into Regular Use - Airport Spotting Blog July 24, 2019 - 8:42 am

[…] [Read Out London Gatwick Spotting Guide] […]

Paul Booth September 24, 2020 - 11:21 am

I would like to join the group I spend a lot time at Gatwick spotting so would be grateful

Jez M May 29, 2022 - 3:01 pm

I booked an accessible room at Premier Inn (North Terminal as I was travelling with a disabled friend & was lucky enough to be allocated room 1056 on the 10th floor, the room is double aspect so has great views of the whole airport. Most aircraft can be read off if they taxy past and photography is possible through the double glazed windows.

Joe August 3, 2022 - 9:18 pm

When discussing the best plane spotting view from blue car park 1 the chap then goes on to say, but security will move you on, and then says “similar view exists from the platforms of the railway station” .

My question is which railway station?

I don’t want to travel all the way there and then find that there’s more than one railway station in the area.

Many thanks for your site 🚉✈️🛩️😊

Matt Falcus August 4, 2022 - 1:10 pm

Hi Joe, it’s the airport’s own railway station linked to the South Terminal.

Robert Martin June 3, 2023 - 3:20 pm

Hi. Is the museum no good for spotting? They advertise that you can watch arrivals and departures. It costs £10 a day or membership is £35 per year which sounds much better than paying for car parks and then being kicked out. The main problem is that I think it is only open Friday to Sunday.

Matt Falcus June 5, 2023 - 12:29 pm

Hi Robert, the museum is just a little distant from the airport, so you can only see movements from far off.


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