Spotting at heathrow question

Hey everyone!

I will be visiting London for the first time this December. I will probably get a chance to spot at Heathrow for a number of hours. I wanna see everything I cant back here in the Bay Area! Anyway, I’ve heard all the rave of Myrtle Avenue, the place where everyone goes to spot. I see that it is behind runway 27L, and I know not all planes land on 27L. Does anyone know if that is the absolute best place I could go to spot and take photos, or is there a better spot I can go and see arrivals on 27R or maybe even departures?

Thanks everyone!

Hello,

Whilst I’ve never personally been spotting at Heathrow, a quick google search found an article that may assist and be of interest to you:



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I will say, just in case you are wondering which one on that list to go with, 29 - Novotel Viewing Deck is the one I have seen quite a few Youtubers who stream the traffic use.

For 27L arrivals, Myrtle Ave. is arguably your best bet. Got plenty of nice pictures there during my four month trip to the UK. Alternatively, for a slightly better angle IMO, visit the parking lot of Bedfont Football Club. Going onto the pitch (field for US folks) works too, but it’s very muddy when wet, and you may interfere with football activities. Hence, why I suggest the parking lot; I also think it offers better angles than the pitch. You can also try the footbridge next to Hatton Cross Station, but it’ll be backlit a majority of the time. Great for cloudy days, though!

For 27R arrivals, Cranford Lane Hatton Cross Bus Stop is fantastic. It’s probably the only spot on 27R that’s really not backlit for the majority of the winter days. If you go north of the field, lighting sucks. It’s pretty backlit, but on cloudy days (which is most of the time in the UK), it’s not that big of a deal. That said, if you know how to do light recovery in Photoshop, it’ll work out well enough for you. The Avis Car Rental Pick-Up/Drop-Off lot along the Northern Perimeter Rd. is great for pictures north of the airport (but, like I said, it’s backlit. I wouldn’t go there unless very cloudy). Regardless of where you are spotting for 27R arrivals, you will encounter buses that get in the way of your shot once in a while. Know their schedule (it’s posted at the stops) and maneuver yourself away from the buses as necessary.

For 27L departures, well, you’re kinda SOL there. There is an employee parking garage you can use, but people get kicked out, and if a plane rotates late, your shots will come out trash. This spotting point will be the best bet for 27L departures, and it’s only really good for heavies. I didn’t bother taking any pictures of 27L departures when I was there.

For 27R departures, you’ve got a bit more luck. Go to the Departures Level of T5 at this dropped pin and you’ll get great shots, especially of heavies. You can also go one story directly below the dropped pin into the multi-story parking garage; it offers some shelter in case of bad weather, and the angle there is nice as well.

I’ve attached some photos below from each of the spotting places I mentioned. Take a look and see what angles appeal to you. Pictures are low quality (thou shalt not steal without credit, and if you shall, it’s potato quality). Lens is a 24-120mm mounted to a Nikon full-frame (if you’ve got a crop sensor, you’ll get a slightly better advantage of around 1.6x I believe). I did also use a 100-500mm mounted to a Canon full-frame for the Bedfont Football Club and T5 Departure Dropoff; you don’t need such a… gargantuan lens for Bedfont, but a longer one is definitely recommended for 27R deps off of the T5 Departure Dropoff. Everything else was taken with the 24-120mm. Again, longer lenses will definitely work in your favour; I definitely would not suggest anything less than what I had.

Some of the pictures aren’t edited because I’m a lazy, procrastinating clown who can’t be bothered to do things in an expeditious fashion. Sorry. :(


27L Spotting Locations

Myrtle Ave. 27L

Bedfont Football Club Parking Lot 27L


Hatton Cross Footbridge 27L


27R Spotting Locations

Cranford Lane Hatton Cross Bus Stop 27R

Avis Car Rental 27R (Northern Perimeter Rd.)

T5 Departure Level Pin 27R


Hopefully this helps you out a bit!

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That is some remarkable spotting advice I’ve read in some time. Makes me want to spot there also.

man, thanks so much. i really can’t wait to spot there it’s gonna be insane!

i just have one more question. do most arrivals come on 27L?

Hey @rafigaviation

The runways alternate at 15:00 everyday at Heathrow unless there are easterly winds. If that’s the case, then the runways don’t switch. (And, they would be using the 09’s if there were easterly winds)

You can view here which runways will be in use at Heathrow airport.

So, for example; If you look at the weekend commencing 4th December you can see that runway 27R is in use for arrivals from 06:00-15:00, and then at 15:00 the arrivals then switch to runway 27L.

I have been spotting at Heathrow loads of times, so here is my sos and donts

1 Dont go spotting at the viewing platform

2 mrytle avenue is great

3 my favourite is Heathrow terminal 5 plane spotting point

To add onto the fantastic advice everyone else has given, this is some advice for you. Make sure you take some gloves and some decently thick clothing. It has very quickly become winter in the UK with temperatures hovering around 2°C/35°F. Your hands especially will feel the cold the most if you’re holding a camera taking pictures.

Possibly also worth getting a small folding chair so that you can sit down.

so if i were to go in the morning you wouldn’t recommend going to myrtle avenue first? also, I will be in london from the 24th-29th.

thank you! appreciate the advice.

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If you’re going on those dates, runway 27L will be in use until 15:00. Then, at 15:00 the arrivals change to 27R. Hope this information is useful!

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A roughly edited screenshot to illustrate some of the locations to you:

  • The red circle represents Myrtle Avenue, perhaps the best spotting location during the day for 27L arrivals. 27L will operate arrivals until 15:00 depending on winds. The go to location for spotting. Lighting isn’t usually ideal until later in the day, but it’s more than passable. Almost ALL aircraft will land on 27L up until the runways switch, you’ll only miss a handful using 27R.

  • The purple circles represent the spots on Eastern/ Northern Perimeter Road. These are fantastic locations to go to if the weather is clear at sunset. Excellent lighting opportunities. The blue highlighted road shows the route you can take to reach this location from Hatton Cross, it’s about 15-20 minutes walk depending on how quick you are. There isn’t really anywhere to sit here, you’ll be mostly standing.

  • The yellow circle represents the Terminal 5 drop off location. You are allowed to stand here, and you shouldn’t be bothered by airport staff. There is a fence in place though so it’s unlikely you’ll get any runway shots, but it presents a fantastic view of the 09L arrivals. Heathrow doesn’t usually change runways at 15:00 if they are operating on easterly arrivals, though a few aircraft may land on 09R throughout the day.

Accessing Terminal 5 will depend on how you are going through the airport. If you are using the Tube, both the Elizabeth line and Piccadilly line operate a regular service into terminal 5. Hatton Cross is only accessible via the Piccadilly Line.

This is a fantastic resource that details the majority of spotting locations at Heathrow, including information on focal lengths and the location itself. I highly recommend you check it out.

Heathrow is a fantastic airport to spot at, there is an exceptional amount of variety in both airlines and aircraft.

It’s also worth noting that sunset at Heathrow is currently around 4pm. You’ll have poor lighting beyond then. Assuming the aircraft are using 27L, Myrtle Avenue is unrivaled. Go there.

hi! will most light aircraft also land on 27L?

The lightest aircraft you’ll see at Heathrow is an ATR. Heathrow does not accept any light aircraft as such. There might be the odd private jet aircraft the flies in, but otherwise it’ll be the A319 and up (although Tarom does fly their a318 in).

Almost all aircraft will land on 27L. It’s only in edge cases that you’ll have one land on 27R, but with an arrival every minute, you really won’t notice if one or two go the other side.

This just isn’t true at all. Depending on runway alteration, landings will be on either runway.

Heathrow’s alteration changes weekly, with one week arrivals are on 27L until 15:00 local time, then the arrivals move to 27R from 15:00 to last arrival. Then, the following week arrivals will be on 27R until 15:00, and the. 27L form 15:00 onwards.

Here’s a link to the alteration schedule, it explains it slightly better than me: https://www.heathrow.com/content/dam/heathrow/web/common/documents/company/local-community/noise/operations/runway-alternation/Runway_Alternation_Programme_2023.pdf

man i cant wait!

From the 25th, aircraft won’t fly past Myrtle Avenue until approximately 15:00, I’d suggest visiting Terminal 5, I’ll attach some photos that I took, aswell as a look at where you’ll stand. At this spot, you’re at most 30 secconds away from the terminal, with cafe nero offering great views across the apron, especially if it’s wet outside.


This image shows the location, to get here go to Terminal 5 departures, walk down to the first wing towards this area, go through the doors and you’re there (see map)

These are some of the photos I’ve taken here


Next spot I’d recommend is the car park, personally I like level 4 or 5. The spot is slightly random, and is limited by the fence, but nice pictures are still possible. Here’s some of the pictures I’ve taken there:





Finally, for lunch or if it gets cold, I’d recommend a trip to the Cafe Nero. It’s right next to check in, and offers some nice views over the apron. Shows 27R departures (from after 15:00z when you’re here) however I find it’s quite hard to get pictures here, as there is two layers of glass, and neither layers are very clean. Here’s a picture of the spot, with a picture from my phone:


For more information about the spots, check spots 12 & 13 on spotterguide, this is what I used when I started to find spots.

I hope this guide helps you. I understand the images may not be the best, but they should give you a good idea.

Enjoy your trip!

EDIT: I read the alteration wrong, so timings are wrong on this. However both spots will still work just in reversed times.

This is out of context missing my above reply where I stayed IF they were landing on 27L they would not alternate until 15:00.

For reference.

I’m aware that Heathrow alternates runways on a weekly basis, though for the timeframe that the OP will be in London (24th-29th), 27L will be the runway in operation.

I apologize if this has caused any confusion.

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