Airport Observation Decks Around the World

George Hobica, November 09, 2013
Fares from Washington DC:

    For planespotters everywhere!

    Airport
    Hours
    Price
    Details
    More info online
    Amsterdam (AMS)

    9am to 5pm (winter)

    7am to 8pm (summer)

    Free The Panorama Terrace offers excellent views of the tarmac with aircraft parked at the gates and taxiing around the airport. A Fokker 100 aircraft offers an interactive aviation experience for kids of all ages to enjoy. See More
    Atlanta (ATL) Anytime Free for those with Delta Sky Club access. A day pass costs $50. Delta's new Sky Club in terminal F features a unique outdoor terrace known as the Sky Deck with excellent views of the runway and planes parked directly in front of the lounge. It comes with the added benefit of free snacks, drinks, and wifi for those that can access the lounge. It is airside, and only passengers with a same-day flight can access it. See More
    Auckland (AKL) Anytime Free On the top floor of the international terminal, the views are up close and personal. An attractive display about aviation is also available for perusal. See More
    Baltimore (BWI) 11am to 9pm Free Near the B/C security checkpoint, the landside, indoor viewing deck provides excellent tarmac views. See More
    Bangkok (BKK) Anytime Free The observation deck is located on the 7th floor, but the views are limited. They mostly survey the departure hall and a small section of the tarmac. Unfortunately, the interior windows and building architecture get in the way of taking photos. See More
    Belo Horizonte (PLU) Anytime Free This Brazilian airport is not as busy as Rio or Sao Paulo's airports, but still sees some interesting traffic. The glassed-in deck on the top floor of the airport is open to the public and has a small bar and café. See More
    Berlin (TXL) 8am to 8pm (summer) 10am to 4pm (winter) 2 euros for adults and 1 euro for children Located above the departure ring in terminal D, this observation deck offers up-close views of the planes and runway due to the airport's infrastructure. See More
    Cape Town (CPT) 5am to 11pm Free The observation deck is located on the mezzanine level of the landside section of the international terminal. See More
    Cologne/Bonn (CGN) 5am to midnight Free Located in terminal 1 (Stern C), this spacious deck is al fresco with great views of the tarmac. For those interested in airport operations, there are guided tours of the entire facility for a small fee. See More
    Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW) 7am to 7pm Free While not at the airport itself, this convenient viewing area is great for locals that want an up-close look at airport operations. Telescopes add to the fun. See More
    Dresden (DRS) Anytime Free In the gallery level of the airport terminal, this space offers excellent views of the tarmac and even the distant Moritzburg Castle. See More
    Dusseldorf (DUS)

    6am to 9pm (summer)

    9am to 8pm (winter)

    1-2.20 euros One ticket gives access to two observation decks at the airport that are quite large and provide views of multiple terminals and all of the runway action. See More
    Frankfurt (FRA) April to November only 10am to 6pm 5 euros Located in terminal two, the Visitor's Terrace offers stunning views of the bustling tarmac. Unfortunately, it is far away from the Star Alliance and Lufthansa action, which make up a large proportion of the airport's traffic. See More
    Grand Rapids (GRR) Anytime Free This charming, quiet space features an indoor seating area facing glass panels overlooking the tarmac. See More
    Hamburg (HAM) Anytime Free There are three observation decks at the airport open to the public. In addition, the Lufthansa business class lounge has a terrace that is open to travelers in warmer months. See More
    Helsinki (HEL) 7am to 10pm Free Located in terminal two, the Scenic Terrace offers close-up aircraft views and the two runways. See More
    Hong Kong (HKG) 11am to 10pm Free The Sky Deck permits excellent views of the tarmac, and it is also part of the larger aviation discovery center with a museum and interactive exhibits teaching about aviation. See More
    Honolulu (HNL) Anytime Free Honolulu's terminals are connected by lengthy open-air walkways that provide up-close of aircraft parked at the gate and the entire tarmac. See More
    Istanbul (IST) Anytime Free The airport's central food court on the landside section of the terminal features a tiny smoking deck that offers exceptional views of the aircraft parked at the gates below and the main runway used for landing aircraft much of the time. Smokers are the majority, but through the puffs of smoke, cameras can squeeze between the fenced gate to snap excellent photos. See More
    Johannesburg (JNB) Anytime Free There are two viewing decks at the airport: one in the domestic terminal, and one in the international terminal. They are indoors so photos may show window smudges or reflections.
    Kuala Lumpur (KUL) Anytime Free This landside space is open to anyone without charge and offers excellent views of the tarmac around the international terminal. See More
    Leipzig/Halle (LEJ) Anytime 2 euros The outdoor platform is located on the roof of the administration building with excellent views. It is located landside. See More
    Los Angeles (LAX) 8am to 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays only Free Located atop the Encounter restaurant in the center of all of the terminals, there are panoramic vistas of the runways and tarmac although the aircraft are quite distant. See More
    Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) Anytime Free Hardly anything lavish, the observation deck at MSP is tucked behind a gift shop in terminal D of the Lindbergh terminal and up a small flight of stairs. It is often used by airport employees on break and features views of the tarmac. Don't expect telescopes or fancy signs, but it is better than the ground-level views often blocked by jet bridges. See More
    Munich (MUC) 8am to 10pm Free This lengthy terrace is open to the public and stretches across the terminal and features binocular machines to amplify the views of the runways and tarmac action. Construction of the new satellite terminal can also be monitored easily from here. See More
    Nagoya (NGO) 7am to 10:30pm Free The SkyDeck (not the same as Delta's version by the same name) offers exceptionally close views of the aircraft. See More
    New York (JFK) Anytime Free for those with Delta Sky Club access. A day pass costs $50. Delta's new Sky Club in terminal four features a unique outdoor terrace known as the Sky Deck with excellent views of the runway and a global collection of airlines passing by. It comes with the added benefit of free snacks, drinks, and wifi for those that can access the lounge. It is airside, and only passengers with a same-day flight from terminal four can access it. See More
    Nuremberg (NUE) Anytime Free This regional airport has a wide space landside for visitors to explore the airport's movements. Telescopes are provided. See More
    Osaka (KIX) Anytime Free by dedicated shuttle bus (public buses also run, but for a fee) While not located directly inside the terminal, it is easy to reach by a free shuttle bus from stop #1 outside. See More
    Paris (ORY) Anytime Free Roissy Charles de Gaulle is busier with more interesting aircraft movements, but there is no formal observation deck there. Orly South, however, has a nice deck with views suitable for photography. See More
    Perth (PER) 6:30am to 7pm (Oct-March) and 7:30am to 5:30pm (April to September) Free Located on the third floor of the terminal, it offers excellent views of the tarmac area. See More
    San Salvador (SAL) Anytime Free The airport has a popular rooftop observation deck where family and friends can watch planes arriving before meeting passengers. Plans are in the works to convert it to a food court, but no details have been released. See More
    Seoul Incheon (ICN) 10am to 5pm daily (4pm in the winter) Free While not at the airport terminal, this elevated observatory permits complete views of the airport. It is mostly used by locals or passengers that have enough time between flights to exit the airport. Take bus 306 ($1 and tell driver Oseong Observatory) or take a taxi ($10). See More
    Singapore (SIN) 6am to midnight Free Located in terminal 3, there is an interesting exhibit about the airport's operations in addition to a panoramic view of the terminal's operation below. See More
    Sydney (SYD) 5:30am to 9pm Free It is located landside in terminal 1 before customs near check-in counter C. Unfortunately, connecting passengers cannot access it unless they can leave the airside area of the terminal. See More
    Taipei (TSA) 9am to 9pm Free This is Taipei's domestic and regional airport so the activity is not as interesting as at the international airport. Still, the outdoor viewing deck is popular. See More
    Tokyo Haneda (HND) Anytime Free Two observation decks are located at the airport, one in terminal one and another in terminal two. Now that Haneda is open to international traffic, the activity for aviation geeks is more varied. See More
    Tokyo Narita (NRT) 6:30am to 9pm (spring/summer) 7am to 9pm (fall/winter) Free One observation deck in each terminal is accessible without charge and offer close-up views of aircraft. They are located on top of the terminal permitting close-up views. See More
    Vancouver (YVR) Anytime Free The observation deck is located on the fourth floor of the domestic terminal, but still permits views of international aircraft. Since it is indoors, photos can sometimes have glare from the sunshine. Interactive kiosks give more details on the airport. See More
    Zurich (ZRH)

    8am to 8pm (summer), 9am to 6pm (winter)

    5 euros (adults) This outdoor deck is one of the best in Europe with excellent views of the terminal and runways. It is located in terminal B, and a second, similar observation deck located in terminal E only opens between April and October. See More

    Observation Deck Image via Shutterstock

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