If you’re anything like me, you’ve found the various lockdowns and restrictions on travel imposed by the global Covid-19 pandemic to be very frustrating.
But it’s also got me thinking about the places I want to visit, the airlines and aircraft I want to fly on, and the airports I want to go spotting at.
Here’s a little encouragement to think big. Why not start off – when restrictions allow – with that trip you’ve always wanted to take, or visiting an airport you’ve always wanted to visit?
Some suggestions for the best plane spotting trips to take post-Covid are:
Tour of Japan’s Airports
Japan has a really dense air network, with domestic travel very popular. It is also well connected from all over Asia and worldwide. The country’s airports are almost all designed with viewing aircraft in mind, and many feature more than one observation deck. So it’s a great place to go spotting, and airports like Tokyo Haneda, Narita, Osaka Kansai, Itami and Fukuoka are excellent for logging and photography.
Relax at St Maarten
It’s probably one of the most obvious spotting locations in the world; Maho Beach on St Maarten is the spot where some of the best low-flying aircraft shots have been taken. But we can’t argue with quality. Although Princess Juliana International Airport is still recovering traffic levels and rebuilding after the 2017 hurricane, as well as the Covid-19 downturn, this is a great place to enjoy some sunshine and relaxation, combined with spotting. You can even take a short flight to other local islands and airports.
US Desert Storage Hubs
The downturn in aviation has sadly resulted in a huge reduction in airline fleets, and sadly some airlines have also gone out of business. This has left the world’s storage airports have been overrun with aircraft. These often will have no certain future, and may end up being scrapped.
Some of the best storage airports are in the desert of the United States. Airports like Mojave and Victorville in California, Roswell in New Mexico, and Marana, Tucson and Goodyear in Arizona are the most famous and have the most aircraft. You can often spot from the perimeter, or organise a light aircraft flight into these airports for a closer look.
Round the World Flight
Air fares are so low at the moment, and there are lots of incentives like free Covid insurance and date changes if necessary. This makes it a great time to book long-haul flights. One thing you might consider is a round-the-world trip, taking in some of the best hub airports and spotting hotels.
It could be a good chance to try out some airlines or aircraft types you haven’t flown before – maybe give the Airbus A380 a try before it’s too late, or check out business class products that you’ve heard a lot about.
European Weekend Trips
Airlines are still facing overcapacity and are thus reducing ticket prices in a desperate bid to sell seats. This makes it a great time to book some quick trips for spotting. If you’re based in Europe, airlines like Ryanair and Wizz Air are growing their networks and selling tickets pretty cheap, so you can take your pick of destinations, whether it’s holiday airports like Palma, Alicante or Antalya, or big hub airports, like Amsterdam, Frankfurt or Paris Charles de Gaulle. Even the more traditional airlines have some great deals at the moment.
Chinese FavouritesAsia’s aviation industry has largely fared better than Europe during the Covid-19 outbreak, and traffic levels are still quite high in places like China. The country has many big hub airports and its airlines continue to grow, with new deliveries of Airbus jets in particular. There’s also the chance to see the new indigenous COMAC ARJ21-700 airliner which has been delivered to many airlines and is only really flying on domestic routes. Head to Beijing Capital, Shanghai Pudong or Shenzhen for some great number crunching!
The United States has also maintained a high level of air service through Covid-19, and is still particularly busy for general aviation, cargo and private jets. Florida is one of the best places for these kinds of aircraft and is still quite busy. Whether it’s cargo or private flights out to the Bahamas or Caribbean islands, or flight training, there’s lots going on and plenty of airports to explore.
Try places like Fort Lauderdale Executive, Opa Locka, Pompano Beach, Lakeland and Punta Gorda. Then for the airliner traffic head to Miami International, Orlando International or Fort Lauderdale Hollywood. Plus, the weather is always great, and the beaches are open!
Turkey and Greece
Both Turkey and Greece are top holiday spots in Europe, and both are keen to attract people back to their beaches and resorts as soon as travel is allowed. As a result, many leisure and low-cost airlines are increasing their routes from countries like the UK, Netherlands and Germany to Greek and Turkish airports.
What are your plans for getting back into spotting? Have you booked any trips? Are you staying local, or just plain staying indoors? Leave a comment below.