Airport Guides

London Heathrow Airport Guide

Contributors: Boeing777236ER, busmanglenn, ConcordetejasHD, dan330, Ediney, flcriminal, Flying Red Fox, gswarbrick, lukey767, lukey_pen_pen_3, perfectcelery, Pole Hill Sid
Updated Wednesday 4th January, 2012

London Heathrow is one of the worlds premier airports, handling a huge amount of airlines operating to destinations around the world. The airport is the busiest in Europe and is very popular with enthusiasts around the world. Heathrow is rather let down though by its complete lack of viewing areas. When compared to other major European airports like Amsterdam Schiphol, Frankfurt and Zurich the facilities provisded are very poor. This situation is made worse by the closure of the one official area photos were possible from, the Queens Building and there is still no word on if or when this will re-open. It should also be said that the security around Heathrow is very tight and although you shouldnt have a problem at the areas below, they are not official areas and you may be approached by police, although most are understanding towards enthusiasts.

The airport offers a fantastic selection of airlines but there are better airports in the UK for photography, namely Manchester. The spots listed below, with the descriptions are from my findings and I have never had problems at them. If anyone has different experiences at the airport then please let us know by discussing it in the forum, a link to which is the right side of the page. My "How To Get There" descriptions are meant only for people driving as my knowledge of public transport is very, very limited, again if anyone has things to add then please use the Heathrow forum.
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Radio Frequencies

Radio Frequencies

Approach: 119.725 & 134.975
Delivery: 121.975
Director: 120.4
Ground: 121.9 & 121.7
Tower: 118.5 & 118.7
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Weather

London Heathrow Airport Weather

All times on the weather descriptions are local

Observed at 00:00 - (4 days 18 hrs ago)


°C


Clouds:
Wind:
Visibility:
QNH:
Dew Point: °C
Runway in Use: Likely Runways 27L/R

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Spot A

Myrtle Avenue Grass Area

The grass area close to Myrtle Avenue at Heathrow has become perhaps the most popular spot at LHR since the closure of the Queens Building viewing area. The spot is perfectly placed on the approach to runway 27L and when this is the landing runway you can get some good approach shots. The area is also the safest in that you will not be bothered by the police or BAA security.

Sat Nav Co-ordinates
(Some locations may not be next to a road but the sat nav should get you pretty close using these co-ordinates)

Latitude: N51° 27' 49" (N51° 27.817')
Longitude: W0° 25' 43" (W0° 25.711')

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Spot B

Renaissance Hotel Room

The Renaissance Hotel overlooks the runway 27R / 09L. Getting a room at the top of the 3 storey building allows you to get some great runway shots. The spot isn't perfect but with the right conditions I feel its probably the best spot at Heathrow. First downside is the cost. You will obviously need to make a reservation to get into the room which will cost £86. The Hotel is also on the North side of the airfield, meaning the sun is a serious problem. The room is useless in the winter as the sun never works its way around, but in the summer you can get nice shots from 1700-1800 until dark. The spot is at its best when 27R is used for landings in the afternoon / evening. If 27R is used for departures then only taxi shots can be taken, with 27R for landings you can get some great touchdown shots. I've never tried it but I would think 09 movements would make it pretty impossible.
Best to check the runways before you book the room. At Heathrow the runways are switched every week, whatever runway is used for landings in the morning one week is used for take-offs in the morning the week after and so on. The London Aviation website in the links on this page gives details of which runways are used for each week. Obvisouly if 09 is used then this can be ignored and I wouldn't bother going.
One further point to note is that you will be shooting through glass, although didn't cause us many problems at the time of our visit.

Sat Nav Co-ordinates
(Some locations may not be next to a road but the sat nav should get you pretty close using these co-ordinates)

Latitude: N51° 28' 48" (N51° 28.799')
Longitude: W0° 26' 46" (W0° 26.766')

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Spot C

Feltham Park

Superb banking shots can be taken of aircraft departing 09R as shown below. The vast majority of aircraft turn sharp right after take-off allowing some really niice shots, particularly on a nice sunny day. It should be noted though that aircraft are a very big lens is required. An A340-300 will require a slight crop in order to be full frame with a 400mm lens on a digital body (ie 680mm). Anything smaller is not worth bothering about. The spot is pretty good throughout the day although you will suffer heat haze on a hot day.

Sat Nav Co-ordinates
(Some locations may not be next to a road but the sat nav should get you pretty close using these co-ordinates)

Latitude: N51° 27' 9" (N51° 27.158')
Longitude: W0° 24' 59" (W0° 24.981')

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Spot D

09L Arrivals

With the new Terminal 5 development complete theres now a grass embankment to the south side of runway 09L where approach shots can be taken from. When runway 09L/R are in use then 09L is used for the vast majority arrivals and so you won't miss much in a day of shooting. I rate this spot better than Myrtle as you are a bit more side on to aircraft rather than underneath as at Myrtle.

The area is best from about 10am until 3pm on a summers day. The sun does tend to work its way round and at about 5pm ends up at 90° to the runway, meaning shots are very difficult by that time. After this time you can walk down to the roundabout on the north side and shoot south, although its probably 7pm before you get the sun behind you.

The best way to get by car is to come off the M25 at the Terminal 4 junction and turn left at the first roundabout. You can park the car up on the side of the road, on a sunny day especially there'll be plenty of others there. If going on foot, exit Terminal 5 and turn right following the perimeter fence adjacent to the parked A320s, crossing the road to do so when you get to the airport vehicle checkpoint. Once past the taxis, you will see a grassy embankment with a fairly steep, shrubbed verge across the road to your left. Cross the road a little further up to make an easy climb up the grass embankment to the top. This is a pleasant place to sit and enjoy good views of 09L landings with a little natural shade. A 5-10 minute walk.

Sat Nav Co-ordinates
(Some locations may not be next to a road but the sat nav should get you pretty close using these co-ordinates)

Latitude: N51° 28' 28" (N51° 28.464')
Longitude: W0° 29' 48" (W0° 29.792')

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Spot E

27R Threshold

It's a good place for taking photos but in cloudy days only (or summer evenings when sun goes down on your right side). You are very close to planes lining up for departure on 27R . Lens around 50-150mm is enough but you have to shoot through the fence which is not easy due to metal bariers hanging on the whole Perimeter Road.

The best way to get there is by public transport. Take a bus from Hatton Cross Station (Bus Stop A) towards Heathrow Central (285, 423 - both are free of charge, or 90) and get off on the bus stop at Hatton Road North.

Sat Nav Co-ordinates
(Some locations may not be next to a road but the sat nav should get you pretty close using these co-ordinates)

Latitude: N51° 28' 46" (N51° 28.759')
Longitude: W0° 26' 5" (W0° 26.081')

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Spot F

Take offs 27L (Esso petrol station)

One of the best places to take photos of planes departing from LHR. Situated at the Southern Perimeter Road near Esso petrol station (shop, toilet) is perfect to catch planes taking off from runway 27L. Every lens above 70mm will be good in that area for almost whole day (from around 10am till afternoon)

If you want to use public transport take bus 203 from Hatton Cross Station towards Staines (bus stop E) and get off near petrol station on the junction of Bedfont Road and Clare Road. Follow Bedfont Road for about 60 - 100 meters and then turn right into Riverside Road. There's a pub at the end of that road called Rising Sun , from where I took photo of bmi A330 (below) having a nice ,cold pint of beer. To get to Esso petrol station from there, you just have to turn right to Southern Perimeter Road (via Oaks Road)

You can get there by car via Bedfont Road (free parking space on Oaks Road) or via Southern Perimeter Road (parking space at Esso petrol station).

Sat Nav Co-ordinates
(Some locations may not be next to a road but the sat nav should get you pretty close using these co-ordinates)

Latitude: N51° 27' 41" (N51° 27.683')
Longitude: W0° 28' 53" (W0° 28.88')

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Spot G

Southern Perimeter Road

It's a good place for take offs from 09R and line ups on 27L. Situated on a Southern Perimeter Road is only 10 min walking distance from Hatton Cross Station. You have to remember about two things when you want to take photos of planes lining up on 27L. First : heat haze ,second :metal barriers on the fence around Perimeter Road.
Lens 50-200mm is enough for take offs and line-ups.

Photos:

Photo Preview
Photo Preview

Sat Nav Co-ordinates
(Some locations may not be next to a road but the sat nav should get you pretty close using these co-ordinates)

Latitude: N51° 27' 44" (N51° 27.734')
Longitude: W0° 25' 60" (W0° 25.996')

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Spot H

T5 Top Level (Cafe Nero)

Sit and enjoy a coffee or hot chocolate whilst watching planes land or depart on 09L also you can see several stands where the BA A319/A320's park.
You can view planes though this spot if you get the train to T5 station

Sat Nav Co-ordinates
(Some locations may not be next to a road but the sat nav should get you pretty close using these co-ordinates)

Latitude: N51° 28' 19" (N51° 28.325')
Longitude: W0° 29' 17" (W0° 29.282')

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Spot I

Bedfont Town Football Club Field

Its quieter than Myrtle Avenue and you get really good photos of planes on approach and side on coming in on Runway 27L. It's a really good spot for people with lenses starting around 70mm or 100mm cause planes are bit further than at Myrtle Avenue.

Update Feb 2011
Photographers have reported that the football club have now decided this to be a members only area. As I'm pretty sure this is private property then they have every right enforce this policy. The club will allow photographers to continue using the area as long as they are members - quoted figures seem to be £20 for the first year and then £10 to renew every year after that. Be prepared to be moved on from this area if you are not a member.

Sat Nav Co-ordinates
(Some locations may not be next to a road but the sat nav should get you pretty close using these co-ordinates)

Latitude: N51° 27' 44" (N51° 27.727')
Longitude: W0° 25' 34" (W0° 25.564')

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Spot J

A30 Dual Carriageway

Just over the road from Myrtle Avenue and actually standing in the centre of the dual carriageway you can get a little more side on to the aircraft. If you take a set of step ladders you can usually get high enough to get some of the maintanence hangers in the shot - making it more than just plane on a blue sky.
The downside here is that you'll have to work to avoid the lamp posts from the street. Only short lenses required, anything bigger than a 757 requires less than 100mm.

Sat Nav Co-ordinates
(Some locations may not be next to a road but the sat nav should get you pretty close using these co-ordinates)

Latitude: N51° 27' 50" (N51° 27.828')
Longitude: W0° 25' 46" (W0° 25.767')

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Spot K

Southern Perimeter Road 2

A little closer to Terminal 4 than the Esso Garage, there's plenty of free parking around the Rising Sun on the corner of Oaks Road and Riverside Road. The bridge which used to connect Oaks Road to the Southern Perimeter Road is a reasonable spot for smaller aircraft and you can follow the river through to the Southern Perimeter Road to the verge opposite the Southern Fuel Farm, which is perfect for 'heavies'. There are lamp posts along the Southern Perimeter Road, but there's plenty of room between them. 100-200mm lens should be be OK for the 'heavies' with a crop sensor or full frame. For the short haul aircraft from the bridge 200-300mm is required.

Sat Nav Co-ordinates
(Some locations may not be next to a road but the sat nav should get you pretty close using these co-ordinates)

Latitude: N51° 27' 41" (N51° 27.676')
Longitude: W0° 28' 37" (W0° 28.621')

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Spot L

Northern Perimeter Road

A section of wide pavement just about opposite the rotation point for short haul aircraft. A 5-10 minute walk from the Visitor's Centre car park and Renaissance Hotel. The planes will just clear the fence of the Business Car Park as they pass. The runway's a fair way in, so you'll need a 100-150mm lens on a crop sensor or 150-200mm on full frame.

Sat Nav Co-ordinates
(Some locations may not be next to a road but the sat nav should get you pretty close using these co-ordinates)

Latitude: N51° 28' 48" (N51° 28.808')
Longitude: W0° 27' 23" (W0° 27.376')

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Spot M

Eastern Perimiter Road

The Road is a good place to take photos of, but you do have to shoot though a fence. The best thing to take photos of are 747s or A340 and other 'Heavy' Aircraft on stand. You can see the runway but it is a far way in. If you want to take pictures on the stand take an small lens because their about 200 ft away from you

Sat Nav Co-ordinates
(Some locations may not be next to a road but the sat nav should get you pretty close using these co-ordinates)

Latitude: N51° 28' 34" (N51° 28.56')
Longitude: W0° 25' 12" (W0° 25.193')

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Spot N

The Heron Field

This may be known by some other name elsewhere but I'm calling it the Heron Field because when I've been there, I saw a large heron a few times.

Walking down the perimiter road past the BA maintenace facility/away from Hatton Cross past the Jury's Inn there's a little mini-roundabout that leads to some parking facilities for different areas. There's also a brown gate to a field. I climbed over the gate and went through the small gap into the next field stood on the left handside, along the treeline that runs along the road.

Binoculars and a minimum Canon 200mm lens needed, bigger for the smaller aircraft but you can get side on shots of landings on 27R and possible 27L (but Myrtle Ave is better for 27L). Good points - fully enclosed so hassle or comments from passing motorists/jobsworths. Negatives - quite insecty, overgrown and remote. Not sure if you're allowed here but I never got troubled. Spent a good few hours there too.

Sat Nav Co-ordinates
(Some locations may not be next to a road but the sat nav should get you pretty close using these co-ordinates)

Latitude: N51° 28' 17" (N51° 28.288')
Longitude: W0° 24' 51" (W0° 24.851')

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Spot O

Renaissance & Heathrow Academy Car Park

Next to the Renaissance Hotel is the Heathrow Academy, where on the car park is a covered viewing platrform. This is a very popular place to watch the arrivals for number crunchers, particularly the benches in the grounds of the Renaissance.

And for photographers, when the sun is behind you later in the day this can be a great place to also photograph the arrivals on 27R.

Sat Nav Co-ordinates
(Some locations may not be next to a road but the sat nav should get you pretty close using these co-ordinates)

Latitude: N51° 28' 49" (N51° 28.813')
Longitude: W0° 26' 34" (W0° 26.559')

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Spot P

Terminal Five Drop Off

This is a great spot to view planes arriving on runway 09L. You get some nice shots from here but its a very tricky spot to photo from. First of all most of the area is surrounded by a fence so photography is limited to the 1m or so at th end before the start of the fence. You therefore only have a small area in which to frame the aircraft and get your shot. Theres also the issue of heat haze, which even on a mid-March day that wasn't exactly hot caused significant problems.
Finally if you decide to get to T5 by car and park in the short stay beware of the extortionate charges. I was there fore just over an hour and got charged over £6!

Sat Nav Co-ordinates
(Some locations may not be next to a road but the sat nav should get you pretty close using these co-ordinates)

Latitude: N51° 28' 24" (N51° 28.402')
Longitude: W0° 29' 23" (W0° 29.38')

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Spot Q

Meeting of the Northern and Eastern Street

Excellent place to photos of flights landing on runway 27R, is located near the BA hangars.

Best time - morning and afternoon until 15:00PM

Lens - 18-200mm

Sat Nav Co-ordinates
(Some locations may not be next to a road but the sat nav should get you pretty close using these co-ordinates)

Latitude: N51° 28' 35" (N51° 28.583')
Longitude: W0° 25' 36" (W0° 25.605')

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Spot R

Horton Village

You can get some nice banking shots from runway 27R next to a road close to Horton Village. You'll need a big lens 300-400mm minimum and only the larger aircraft types are possible to get from here.

Sat Nav Co-ordinates
(Some locations may not be next to a road but the sat nav should get you pretty close using these co-ordinates)

Latitude: N51° 27' 51" (N51° 27.85')
Longitude: W0° 32' 2" (W0° 32.032')

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Spot S

Hatton Cross Tube Station

The pavement outside Hatton Cross tube station on the corner of the A30 and Hatton Road (near the traffic lights) is a good spot on summer evenings when landings are on 27L and the Sun is setting north west. Recommended after 6pm when shots at Myrtle Avenue become backlit.

Lens range, is from 50mm for side-on shots, up to 300mm for just off head-on shots.

Perils are lampposts and high sided vehicles for photography.

Sat Nav Co-ordinates
(Some locations may not be next to a road but the sat nav should get you pretty close using these co-ordinates)

Latitude: N51° 27' 59" (N51° 27.975')
Longitude: W0° 25' 25" (W0° 25.42')

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Spot T

Thistle Hotel viewing terrace

The viewing terrace offered on the top floor of the Thistle Hotel is a great place to watch aircraft taking off on runway 27R and landings on runway 09L.I advise too many people don't all go at once because you have to go to reception and kindly ask if you can watch the planes on the terrace.For photography,any lens above 70-75mm will do for full frame aircraft pictures and any lens 200mm and above will do for close ups.Most heavies will have just lifted off but smaller aircraft will be much higher in the sky so a lens about 300 mm is needed for close ups of these however 200mm is needed for full frame shots and the terrace is placed at the right height so no fences or trees will get in any shots but photographing aircraft parked on stand at terminal 5 is a bit more difficult as fences and trees will get in the way and the only way to overcome this is to have a larger lens around about 300-400mm.

Sat Nav Co-ordinates
(Some locations may not be next to a road but the sat nav should get you pretty close using these co-ordinates)

Latitude: N51° 28' 48" (N51° 28.799')
Longitude: W0° 29' 1" (W0° 29.009')

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