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Thread: Spotting at JFK at the airport

  1. #1
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    Spotting at JFK at the airport

    I see on this site all the offsite places to spot from but what about at JFK itself? I am planning on taking a day off with my 8 yr old son and spending the day. He is less into photographing and more into taking down registration numbers, etc. When I was a kid my Dad took me down from Boston for the day and we spent it on the Pan Am terminal roof where I could have thrown tennis balls onto the runway! Now with all the post 9/11 stuff you can't get into the parts of the terminals where you might get close to the planes. Any suggestions for good close viewing in the airport itself? Is there any designated observation place? Thanks

  2. #2
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    Re: Spotting at JFK at the airport

    Get that kid a good pair of binoculars.... there is no designated observation deck, and depending what runways are in use, you could pull off standing in a bus stop on airport grounds...

  3. #3
    Senior Member Speedbird1's Avatar
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    Re: Spotting at JFK at the airport

    I have the same problem. Delta and United won't admit me into the terminal without a boarding pass. I used to spend hours in both places spotting and noting registration tail numbers so I know how bad it is. I spoke to a visitor from London recently and he said that it's worse at Heathrow for spotters. There is a small window at JFK's T4 on the 4th floor where you can spot some planes but when I try to snap a photo I get chased-away. I was even escorted by a TSA guard to the terminal exit. I guess he had nothing better to do. I used to roam around JFK collecting inflight magazines to read. These are now hard to get. I also got ticket jackets with the logos. All gave me except Saudia. Since 9-11 spotting is bad for me especially since I drive no car and can't get outside the airport periphery. It is so frustrating that I have mostly given-up spotting. To the bargain, my favorite aircraft, Concordes, few B744s and MD-11s never come anymore (some 74F cargos still fly here). You can also spot from the JFK AirTrain; although many aircraft are hidden on the opposite side of the terminal.

  4. #4
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    Re: Spotting at JFK at the airport

    Delta and United won't admit me into the terminal without a boarding pass.
    This is totally untrue. Anyone can enter the terminal without a boarding pass however as with any terminal you can't move to the gate area without a boarding pass.

    I spoke to a visitor from London recently and he said that it's worse at Heathrow for spotters.
    Again untrue...London has been and still is one of the most friendly locations for spotters. They have areas that the local Police ask people to keep to and if you do they don't bother you.

    I was even escorted by a TSA guard to the terminal exit.
    TSA would not do this, you're confusing T4's normal security. T4 is a privately run terminal and they have the right to ask you to leave. TSA simply screens and does not provide building security.

    T1 has a very nice cafe that gives you decent views of the field while you eat. People on this site are always willing to give out of town spotters a lift, I'm sure if you post when you want to spot someone will offer.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Speedbird1's Avatar
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    Re: Spotting at JFK at the airport

    When I stated that you cannot enter the Delta or the United Terminals at JFK my statement was unclear. You can enter the lower levels of both terminals to welcome arrivals however you cannot enter the area where planes can be spotted without boarding passes. The question posed was if the people could spot aircraft from these terminals and the answer is still no. Next time I get told to leave T4, I will ask if he works for TSA or for T4. Regarding, the situation of spotting at LHR, I haven't been there for awhile but I was merely passing-on a comment I was told so I cannot defend that statement. Since you claim to be a pilot, I will take your word for this. I have no aviation training so I am no expert. I will do some research about spotting at LHR and respond ASAP.

  6. #6
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    Re: Spotting at JFK at the airport

    Since you claim to be a pilot, I will take your word for this. I have no aviation training so I am no expert. I will do some research about spotting at LHR and respond ASAP.
    Where have I ever claimed to be a pilot??? You are daft mate...

  7. #7
    Senior Member Speedbird1's Avatar
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    Re: Spotting at JFK at the airport

    I guess I was mistaken about the poster as being a pilot. However, I was right about spotting at LHR. It is now similar to JFK. Heathrow spotters have contacted me to confirm that the spotting area at Terminal 2 closed in 2002 and in 2005, the Visitor Center closed. Also at Gatwick as well as Heathrow, all viewing decks are now closed to the public. One guy even told me that he is now a retired spotter just as I am. The only real options, unless you have airport access, is to go to runway approaches and hope that the aircraft you're expecting to see arrives where you are waiting. I find that too frustrating.

  8. #8
    Senior Member moose135's Avatar
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    Re: Spotting at JFK at the airport

    Quote Originally Posted by Speedbird1
    The only real options, unless you have airport access, is to go to runway approaches and hope that the aircraft you're expecting to see arrives where you are waiting. I find that too frustrating.
    That's what most of us do - and with FlightAware and the other flight trackers, this site (and others) plus a scanner and your fellow spotters, you get a pretty good idea of what is coming in when and where to be to catch it. For some, the chase is as much fun as the catch...

  9. #9
    Senior Member Speedbird1's Avatar
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    Re: Spotting at JFK at the airport

    What about spotters such as myself who have no car? When runways change, I must look for a taxi. By that time, the aircraft I want to see has already landed. It is no fun so I have retired from spotting. I am grateful that you younger guys spot and post your photos for us to see. Continue your great work; it is appreciated.

  10. #10
    Senior Member moose135's Avatar
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    Re: Spotting at JFK at the airport

    If you are looking to head out, post a note here, or head on out when a group is planning to be out. If there are several of us out, there is always someone who will give you a ride to the new spot if runways change - I've done it countless times when someone in the group didn't have a car.

  11. #11
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    Re: Spotting at JFK at the airport

    Quote Originally Posted by Speedbird1
    I spoke to a visitor from London recently and he said that it's worse at Heathrow for spotters.
    To be fair to Heathrow, while the famous Queen's Building is no more, (oh for the many happy hours I have spent there!) has the visitor centre on the northern perimeter road.

    Of course the drawbacks include trees between it, and the airport boundary making photos next to useless! You can still read the registrations on aircraft.. Plus - for those who dont drive, it is free by bus from the Central Bus Station..

    As for JFK.. my spottting (registation trips) involve moving around on the Airtrain, or sitting in the cafe of Terminal 1..

    Geoff
    For Providence area information I am your man!

  12. #12
    Senior Member Iberia A340-600's Avatar
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    Re: Spotting at JFK at the airport

    While observation decks may have closed at Heathrow, it is EXTREMELY EASY to spot at the airport from areas around the perimeter road which surrounds the airport. Very accessible and easy to use public transportation, as well as walking makes this very possible.

  13. #13
    NLovis
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    Re: Spotting at JFK at the airport

    Hello guys. Yea I know its hard to spot now. I might be young but i've been spotting for awhile. Before 9/11 my father used to take me onto the ramp at JFK and i was able to take pics of the planes parked with a disposable. I was young and I just wanted pics. Now its impossible unless your escorted aroudn by a employeee of a company that works on the ramp. But if the police or costoms saw u taking pics on the ranp they will arrest you on the spot. But that hasnt stopped me. I now work at T7 and i have gotten some good shots with my new digital. Its nothing fancy or high end but I make it work. I needed something slim that would fit in my pocket and wouldnt attract attention. So far its worked. I've gotten some amazing photos and havent been bothered. But i risk my job doing so but the whole reason i'm working there is to see the planes. To whoever said MD-11's dont fly in anymore you need to check early morning. Luftansa cargo usually flies one in before the sun rises and it goes out sometime before noon i'm not exactly sure when it departs. Others fly in once in awhile as well but the times are hit or miss.

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