Home Airport Spotting Guide Where to Spot at Manchester Airport

Where to Spot at Manchester Airport

by Matt Falcus

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…


where to spot at manchester


Main Airlines at Manchester

  • British Airways
  • Emirates
  • Flybe
  • Jet2
  • Ryanair
  • TUI Airways
  • Virgin Atlantic


Spotting Locations

(click on map to navigate)


Spotting Video

Here’s a video we put together of the 4 main spotting locations:


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.

** NOTE – The mounds have now been removed to make way for a new VIP terminal, and the fence level raised. It is hoped that new mounds will be built in the future.

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


Airport Spotting Guides Europe

Find out where to spot at Manchester and hundreds of other airports across Europe in our new guide book.

Includes maps, spotting locations & directions, lists of airlines, spotting hotels and aviation museums.

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Other Resources

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/




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Helen May 10, 2017 - 8:21 pm

Does anyone know if dogs are allowed on the perimeter footpath and mound?

Jack Frank May 26, 2018 - 3:48 pm

Yes they are! 🙂

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Does any body know the scanner frequency to use ,as my husband got a scanner and loves to hear when planes comming in .

matt November 21, 2017 - 6:07 pm

hi all if anybody would like to join my facebook group for spotters at Man EGCC, my group is called Manchester EGCC pictures, information and movements.
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Philip Longdon July 10, 2018 - 7:52 pm

The RVP is now served by buses 288/737, albeit on a haphazard timetable with only about 4-5 journeys each way. L13 is connected by “Skylink” to the The Station, which has a regular train service to Manchester; express buses to Stockport (& beyond) and local buses (43 & 105) to nearby Wythenshawe. There is also the Metrolink LRT to Manchester but this is a much slower journey (about an hour) than the train……and less comfortable than the bus!

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Thanks Philip!

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Robert May 10, 2019 - 1:23 pm

Is there any disabled parking at this area

Robert May 10, 2019 - 1:26 pm

Can disabled people park at this location

pam June 3, 2019 - 5:53 pm

Picking up at terminal one arrivals, can I get to the top of the multi storey car park in order to watch the plane land?

Matt Falcus June 3, 2019 - 6:22 pm

Yes, the multi-storey is outside terminal 1. Just go to the top floor.

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Rod Guy July 10, 2022 - 6:54 pm

Hi Matt, reading Manchester Airport Spotting with great interest, reading of all the greats. but one thing never comes to light is a privet aircraft charter in the 1980s A private travel agent took it upon them sells to charter Concorde to Mallorca round trips with over 300 passengers one of the largest Concorde that’s been. I still treasure all the old photos may be some day this might come to light.

Jez April 23, 2024 - 7:10 am

I recently stayed 3 nights at the Radisson Blu at MAN and booked a runway view room – which was well worth it, I was able to see all movements & photography was easy for aircraft taxiing past (nice clean windows helped). Whilst the room wasn’t cheap it was worth splashing out to have a bit of comfort. The runway viewing park is a few minutes away by car – I used a taxi as I had flown into MAN (£30 approx for a return trip).


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