Mark Williams has posted this helpful and informative post on the current spotting situation at Zurich Airport. I hope you find it useful:
Once through immigration on the arrivals floor, head out of the terminal and turn right. You will see signs for the observation hall and ramp tours – simply head towards the hangars and as the road/perimeter fence turns left you will see the cabin on your right. Purchase a ticket from the machine at the entrance on your left if you only want to go to the observation hall (cost 2CHF – the machine accepts notes also although having the correct change might be wise) and then head to the security point where you and your belongings will go through an x-ray machine. Don’t forget you are going airside so the appropriate security measures need to be completed. There was no problem taking bottles of liquid through, especially important as there is only limited vending facilities on the deck itself. Once through, you then wait in a small room for the next bus to take you to the viewing deck atop Terminal E, situated in the middle of theairfield at the heart of the action. Buses are every 30 minutes during the summer weekends, running at 15 and 45 past the hour (the first one being 07:45). Last buses back are at 19:00 and 19:30 with the final departure back to the terminal at 20:00. Please note these are summer weekend times. Check on the excellent Zurich Airport website for winter and weekday schedules. The airport tour, which includes the hangar area, biz jet parking and a stop at the runway intersection for photos is also still available at 8CHF, but I didn’t go on it this time. Make sure you time it well for the bus, as I arrived just a couple of minutes after one had departed and the half hour wait in a stuffy room with very little in the way of views was a touch frustrating.
5 minutes after boarding the bus and you are at the entrance to the observation deck. Take the lift up to the top and you are all set. The observation deck at Zurich is still one of the best facilities in the world in my opinion, with great views over much of the airport and in particular cracking views of all movements on runways 10/28 and 16/34.Runway 14/32 is obscured by trees but all movements using it can be read off easily once they vacate. Terminal E hosts all the Swiss long haul flights, and many of the other interesting operators including the Turkish carriers. I don’t take photos, but with so many aircraft at close quarters and those on the runway rotating right in front of you, it is hard to imagine too many places that better it.
The only downside comes in the shape of the solar panels which act as the roof over the entrance. While giving welcome shade from the sun, they are slanted at an angle meaning when it rains (and Zurich can get some quite impressive thunder storms) it quickly becomes soaking underneath. Unless you like getting drenched your only option is to head inside, which is a touch cramped when everyone else has the same idea as you and all views are behind glass. However, this is only a slight irritation as once again, following the closure of the old terrace, Zurich Airport has provided a world class facility which was clearly being appreciated and well used this past weekend by spotters/photographers and the general public alike. I couldn’t help but chuckle to suddenly find myself alone as about 100 people swarmed tothe far end of the deck as the Singapore A380 pushed back and headed down to the runway. Right on cue, the tour bus rolled up at the runway intersection and a lucky few experienced a view that even the hardened spotter would be impressed with.
Of course, with a very positive attitude by the authorities towards spotters and numerous locations both at the airport and along the perimeter to watch proceedings, the observation deck is not the only vantage point, but was the only one I visited on this occasion.
I had treated myself to a night at the Radisson Blu, which is located at the airport and connected directly to the terminals. OK, it isn’t cheap, but the hotel is of an extremely high quality, and Room 409 gave views over towards Terminal E as well as allowing all movements on Runways 14/32 and 10/28 to be read off. Unfortunately, the view isthrough a gap between buildings (albeit quite a large one), so is somewhat restricted – a shame, as the view over to the near side of Terminal E is excellent. For spotting it was more than adequate, with very little, if anything, missed/not being able to be read off but I’m sure those after photos would take advantage of the other well knownlocations. The hotel is actually next door to Car Park 6 mentioned in Dean’s report.
Food was purchased from the quite large basement food hall which offers a variety of options from McDonalds to a seafood outlet and Asian cuisine, as well as hosting a rather good supermarket in which your supplies for the day may be purchased.
While my visit mainly focused on the newer A333’s of Swiss (of which all current examples were seen), Zurich does throw up some interesting visitors, the Croatian and Malev DH8-4’s being prime examples, along with one of the Czech Connect B737’s, Hainan A330 and a healthy helping of Turkish aircraft, including examples from Freebird, Sun Express, Pegasus, AtlasJet, Tailwind, Sky and Turkish Airlines.
Overall, another enjoyable trip to Zurich – well worth the effort and a must if you haven’t ever ventured this way.