Spotting at Brussels National Airport
Brussels is the largest and busiest airport in Belgium, serving the capital and headquarters of the European Union. It continues to fare well in terms of passenger throughput with many airlines and cargo carriers.
It is the home base of Brussels Airlines, and is a hub for Jet Airways, Jetairfly, and DHL.
Brussels National shares its runways with Melsbroek Air Base, home of the Belgian Air Force, with its fleet of Hercules, EMB-135, Airbus A321, and other transport aircraft. Various other aircraft regularly visit the base in support of operations.
Where to spot at Brussels Airport
1. Wingtips Restaurant
A great place if the weather is bad, or if you want food and drink on hand. The Wingtips restaurant can be found upstairs from the departures level in the terminal check-in area. It has views over the cul-de-sac between the two piers. On a morning you will likely see Jet Airways and airlines from the USA parked in front of you. On an afternoon you will see airliners from the Middle East.
Photography is possible, albeit through sometimes dirty glass. Only runway 01/19 movements are visible.
2. P3 Parking
The top floor of this parking garage, outside the terminal, has excellent views over runway 07R/25L and 01/19. This is generally a good bed for seeing all arrivals, although aircraft using 07L/25R are very distant. You have good views of aircraft parked up on remote stands during the day, and also the commuter ramp. Photography can be a little distant and obstructed by poles.
3. P1 Parking
The top floor of this parking garage looks over the some of the cargo ramps and runway 07L/25R. Some departure shots can be taken.
4. Runway 25L Landing
Just through the tunnel which passes under runway 25L is a small road which heads up to the detention centre on the south side of the airport. An elevated bank near the perimeter fence here gives you excellent close-up views of aircraft landing on 25L. You can also see most movements on the airfield from here, but they’re too far away to photograph. It’s not usually wise to park at the detention centre as the car park is for visitors only. Nossegem railway station is around 1km walk.
5. Runway 25L Approach
The road between Kortenberg and Steenokkerzeel passes the end of runway 25L. There are a few places alongside the road which you can park up at. Photography is excellent for aircraft landing on this runway.
6. Steenokkerzeel Cemetery
A small cemetery hidden in Steenokkerzeel is directly under the approach to runway 25R, which is not used as often but is common for cargo and military aircraft. Show respect to people visiting graves and don’t clamber on any headstones. Signs warn spotters about this.
7. Runway 25R
Close to the edge of Steenokkerzeel, just before crossing the main N21, a small road passes behind a bakery. Follow it and you will get a view of aircraft landing and departing on 25L. You can also read off some aircraft parked on the Melsbroek Air Base flight line.
8. Runway 07L
On the rare occasions that runway 07L is used, this location is perfect. Situated amongst the staff car parks, and serviced by buses from the terminal, you are close to the end of the runway. You can also read off some aircraft parked on the cargo and biz jet aprons.
Brussels Airport Spotting Hotels
Sheraton Brussels Airport
Brussel Nationale Luchthaven, 1930 Zaventem, Belgium | +32 2 710 80 00 | website
Situated amongst the terminal and car park complex. Rooms on the top floor facing the airport have views of some parking stands and taxiways. Photography is not really possible.
Novotel Brussels Airport
Leonardo Da vinci laan 25, 1831 Diegem, Belgium | +32 2 725 30 50 | website
This hotel is close to the end of runway 07L. Rooms on the 5th floor facing the runway have views of aircraft landing on 07L or departing 25R, and some limited views of the cargo apron. Very limited photography opportunities.
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