Airports and airlines today, especially in the realm of social media are reaching out to passengers at every turn to gather data, improve customer satisfaction and pitch new and existing products. At tripchi, we are passionate about the Airport2.0 experience and many airports are taking that experience more seriously. To us the airports are a destination not just a transit point. So today I want to share with you five of my favorite airport spotting decks/exhibits that I have visited. While I have a traveled a decent amount, I have by no means been everywhere. So if you have any additions you like to make to the list, I am always open to suggestions.
5. Dubai International Airport Exhibit – I know this isn’t an observation deck but its worth mentioning. I spent a lot of time wandering the halls of Dubai over the past year. Dubai was my transfer point on three times while flying back and forth from South Africa, so I go to know it pretty well. On one of these trips I was mapping out the airports for the tripchi app and walked all the way to the end of concourse B between C was a great gallery of photos and videos promoting aviation in the UAE. The gallery chronicles the rise of aviation in Dubai from the 1920’s to present day. It was cool to see the progression from a small airport in the vast desert with a couple of DC-3 and other piston pounders on the tarmac. It is a great look into the aspirations of Dubai, as it shows the airport and city in their infancy and chronicles their rise to the massive economic and aviation hub it is today. It is definitely worth checking out if you have a few minutes to spare.
4. OR Tambo Observation Deck Johannesburg, SA – If you are aviation enthusiast like myself you can find a viewing deck like a hound sniffs out a fox. For me the best time killer is to buy a beer find an observation deck and watch the incoming and outgoing flights. OR Tambo has a great viewing deck that doubles as their aviation museum. It can be found by walking to the end of the International Terminal A and taking the escalators up to the second floor and passing the airport offices. There is ample signage to help you find you way. Once there, you are given a great vantage point to snap some photos of incoming and outgoing aircraft. The museum is small but gives you a full history of the airport and it transformation during the fall of Apartheid. It’s a must see for any aviation fan.
3. LAX Observation Deck and In-N-Out Burger – The observation deck is in the center of all the terminals atop the Encounter restaurant, which unfortunately is now closed. The deck gives you a panoramic vistas of the runways and tarmac but the aircraft are quite distant away. It use to be nice to grab a beer from down below and head up top to enjoy the view. I also must mention the famous plane spotting spot outside the airport at the In N Out Burger on S Sepulveda Blvd and Lincoln Blvd which you can walk to from the airport. There is a public park just a few steps away. There are also nice views from the grassy area on Sepulveda just southeast of In-N-Out, land marked by a giant LAX sculpture/sign. You can catch great glimpses of the heavies just hundreds of feet above you on approach.
2.Delta Sky Deck at JFK – I am hesitant to include this on the list as it is requires elite status or payment at the time of service, but it’s just such a great experience it must be mentioned. Delta’s new Sky Club in terminal four features a beautiful outdoor terrace which they call the Sky Deck with great views of the runway and plenty of international airlines passing by. Although its $50 if you don’t have Sky Club access it comes with the added benefit of free snacks, drinks, and wi-fi for those that can access the lounge. It is airside so only passengers with a same-day flight from terminal four can access it. If you love the smell of jet fuel and hearing the roar of the engines this is a deck for you.
Amsterdam Schiphol Observation Deck – Rounding off my top five take us to the wonderful city and airport in Amsterdam. The entrance is located landside providing access to ticketed and non ticketed visitors. A large observation deck for visitors, which is frequented by both plane spotters and families waving goodbye to pax. The deck extends from the sidewall of Departure hall 3 over the rooftop of the concourse and Departure halls 1&2, offering views of D-, E- and F-pier with a nice mix of short-haul and long haul. Entrance barriers with a one-euro coin slot were introduced in 2007, but luckily I don’t believe they have ever been activated.
So that’s my list of favorites. I would love to hear what is on your list. Tweet us your answer @tripchi and don’t forgot to take our survey about our prize giveaways.