Top 20 Airports to Visit in 2020
With 2020 here, it’s time to start making those plans and ambitions for your life and hobbies.
Where have you got planned to visit? Are you making any special spotting trips, flights, or holidays this year? Leave a comment below with the airports you plan to visit!
Here’s our list of the airports you should be visiting in 2020 to make the most of your airport spotting hobby! Which would you add?
1. Beijing Daxing
China’s flagship new airport opened in October 2019 and is set to become one of the world’s major airports. While it is operating alongside Beijing Capital, it has led to the closure of the older Nanyuan Airport and will carry on growing in 2020 as more airlines and routes transfer there.
Spotting opportunities are still a little hazy, but given its size and importance I’m sure it will become a major player in our hobby in the future.
2. Tokyo Haneda
2020 sees the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo and its airports are going to be busier than ever.
Haneda has been rising in stature recently, taking more and more international routes from Narita airport. So it’s a really great time to visit for a spotting trip – especially in July and August when traffic will be at its peak!
3. New York LaGuardia
Once described as a Third World Airport, New York’s LaGuardia has been undergoing dramatic change and rebuilding to bring it in line with modern standards. While work continues until at least 2022, this year sees more of the terminal redevelopments completed.
LaGuardia is largely a domestic airport and is very busy. If you’re not a regular US spotter, visiting here will yield lots of domestic aircraft rarely seen outside of the country.
4. Doha Hamad International
One of the Middle East’s biggest and busiest airports. Home to Qatar Airways, Doha Hamad International is undergoing expansion, with a new central building like Singapore Changi’s Jewel expected to open soon. It will also see an estimated 53 million passengers this year. This is all in the build up to the FIFA World Cup in Qatar in 2022.
Switzerland’s busiest airport has always been an enthusiast’s favourite. With some fantastic viewing areas both on the terminals and around the perimeter, you’re guaranteed a good view. What’s more, there’s always an interesting mix of traffic.
If you head there in January, the World Economic Forum in Davos always ensures Zurich receives a mouthwatering complement of government and VIP aircraft from around the world. The only problem is spotting in the cold!
6. Tokyo Narita
As well as Haneda airport, Tokyo’s Narita will see a busy year owing to the Olympic Games this July and August. While Nartia has been losing routes to Haneda, clever incentives are seeing some new routes announced. It is a busy airport anyway, so is worth a spotting trip.
7. St. Maarten Princess Juliana
The famous Caribbean resort with its dramatic aircraft approaches over the beach needs little introduction to spotters. However, following two hurricanes in recent years, the airport has been undergoing a period of rebuilding and returning to its former status. This looks likely to be realised in 2020 as parts of the redeveloped terminal reopen and airline traffic returns to mostly normal levels.
Probably Europe’s best storage airport. Teruel is in eastern spain, between Madrid and Valencia. It is a perfect location in the dry sun where airliners go for temporary storage, or to be cut up. It’s a great place to catch up on airframes before it’s too late!
9. Santiago de Chile
The main airport at Chile, this wouldn’t necessarily be top of your list of spotting locations. But give it a try – Chile is home to airlines rarely seen in Europe and North America. It still sees some classic aircraft, like the Boeing 737-200, and native Sky Airline has recently announced a major expansion with an order for Airbus A321XLR aircraft.
10. Seattle Boeing Field
With any luck Boeing will solve the long-running 737 MAX grounding in 2020, allowing aircraft to return to the skies and deliveries to resume. So far aircraft are backing up in airports across the Pacific Northwest. Boeing Field is traditionally the testing and finishing location for the 737 programme, so as production ramps up again this airport near downtown Seattle is going to be a very busy place.
Plus, there’s an amazing aviation museum at the airport which houses most of the Boeing prototype airliners.
A big airline success story in recent years has been airBaltic. This unassuming Eastern European carrier has grown into a major force thanks to decent route expansion and the world’s largest fleet of Airbus A220 aircraft.
The airline’s hub is Riga in Latvia – a smart and modern airport which is much more pleasant to fly through than most other hubs. As well as airline traffic you’ll also find a nice aviation museum on the site, fully of old Soviet aircraft.
12. San Diego
The world’s second-busiest single-runway airport. San Diego is one of America’s smaller hub airports, but packs a punch with a steady stream of flights throughout the day. These include domestic aircraft, as well as long-haul links to Europe, Asia and South America.
It’s usually sunny here, and there are some good spotting and photography locations to try.
13. Taipei Taoyuan
Taipei’s two airports (domestic Songshan and international Taoyuan) are amazing places for plane spotting. Both are really busy Asian hubs and understand spotters, so you can relax while pursuing your hobby.
Taoyuan Airport sees traffic from across Asia and further afield, and recently opened two brand new observation area atop Terminal 2 – one facing north and the other south.
14. Ho Chi Minh City
Ahead of a brand new airport being built for Ho Chi Minh City, the existing facility is still a good place to visit for aviation enthusiasts. Here you’ll see the home fleet of Vietnam Airlines and Bamboo Airways, plus carriers from across Asia, the Far East and the world!
You can spot from the food court inside the terminal, or the Anova Hotel.
The growth in Portugal’s TAP airline in recent years has placed it as a major transatlantic player, largely thanks to the introduction of brand new Airbus A321LR aircraft which have introduced new links to both North and South America. Lisbon is a major focus of these, and it’s a great airport to spot at with numerous good photography locations.
What’s more, there’s an interesting mix of carriers rarely seen elsewhere in Europe, like TAAG Angole and Azul Linhas Aereas.
16. Istanbul New Airport
Opened a year ago, this growing European hub airport replaced Ataturk Airport and is home to Turkish Airlines – one of the world’s most far reaching carriers. The airport still has a long way to go before it’s completed, with more runways and terminal concourses planned.
What’s more, there has been relatively few reports from spotters on the opportunities at this airport, so we’d love to hear from you if you’ve got any tips. In the meantime, there are plenty of views from the gate areas within the terminal.
17. Seoul Incheon
Incheon is the main international gateway to South Korea (the domestic airport is Gimpo). It is a busy hub in Asia with flights from across the world by many carriers, not least the two home-grown airlines Korean Air and Asiana Airlines, who dominate.
The airport is one of the most advanced in the world, especially in the newer Terminal 2, which features robots!
There are a few places to spot from around the airport, including a park under the approach to the runways, and both the Grand Hyatt and Best Western hotels which have rooms with views.
18. New Orleans
New Orleans’ Louis Armstrong airport had been falling in customer satisfaction rankings for decades, but at the end of 2019 finally unveiled its brand new, state-of-the-art terminal on the north side of the airport. This completely replaced the ageing older terminals overnight and has instantly propelled New Orleans into a modern, bright, airy airport which passengers love. This should in turn see the airport attract more airlines and routes (British Airways recently started flying there).
A favourite in Europe, Madrid Barajas is a busy airport and gateway to Spain. As well as seeing flights from across Spain, Europe and further afield, it is a hub for flights from Spanish-speaking South and Central American countries, so you’ll often see airlines here that don’t visit other countries in Europe.
With the recent purchase of Air Europa by IAG group (owner of Iberia, Level, British Airways, Vueling and Aer Lingus) you should expect to see some changes in their operations, making Madrid a really focussed hub operation in 2020.
There’s a great spotting location at Madrid known as the Mound.
20. Moscow Sheremetyevo
One of three main airports serving Moscow, Sheremetyevo is the home of Aeroflot and in 2020 will see the airline take its first Airbus A350 aircraft.
The airport recently opened a third runway and has seen growth in operations, with some airlines moving here from Domodedovo Airport. There’s been new terminal developments, and an amazing Radisson Blu hotel is a great place to spot from!