Here’s Everything You Need To Know About #SpotLAX2023

The 10th anniversary of SpotLAX, #SpotLAX2023 is just about 2 weeks away. Here’s all the information you will need to make the most of this exciting event! 

SpotLAX 10th anniversary logo.First off, a note on activities. SpotLAX was initially conceived as an informal gathering of planespotters, and that spirit largely remains today. It’s an event where groups of friends both new and old gather to chat, enjoy the aviation ambiance, and take photos. We want all to feel welcomed at SpotLAX, especially our new attendees. Please feel free to jump in and join the conversation. While some of us may gather like we’re old friends who haven’t seen each other in a year, we all look forward to meeting new faces each year as much as we enjoy seeing old ones.

Once again this year, JetTip will be free for LAX the entire weekend so you can keep tabs on the best aricraft to arrive and depart. Also, make sure you grab an aircraft checklist from JetTip’s Nick Benson. Its a fun way to keep track of all the different airlines and aircraft types you see this weekend. 

If you have any questions during the weekend, just ask one of our SpotLAX Ambassadors. Check back soon for more information on who they are and how to find them.


Introducing the SpotLAX2023 Ambassadors! We’ve asked a group of  multi-year returning attendees to help with greeting attendees and answering questions. In alphabetical order, the ambassadors are: Heather Abbott, Glenn Beltz, Nick Benson, Jillian Johnson, JL Johnson, Ben Granucci, Henry Griffiths, Annie Kwan, Kent Matthiesen, Peter Melander, and Tom Rainey. You’ll be able to easily find our Ambassadors by looking for their orange nametags. 

Wondering what’s new and different at LAX this year? JetTip’s Nick Benson has published a comprehensive roundup.

Be on the lookout for Alaska Airlines A321NEOs this weekend. They are the last Airbus aircraft remaining in the fleet and only 5 of them are still in revenue service as of today.

The runway closure that was expected to begin early Saturday morning now looks to have been pushed back a few days. We’ve seen a planning document with the new dates, and a number of NOTAMS associated with the closure have been removed. As of right now, the closure looks to begin Tuesday, September 12th and continue until early 2024. This is excellent news indeed! It’s looking very likely that Runway 06L/24R will begin a long term closure at 12:30am on Saturday September 9th. We’ve been hearing rumblings about this for about a week but at this point we’re confident enough in it happening that we feel it’s worth sharing. So what does this mean for us if it pans out? First off, it will be normal operations during the SpotLAX2023 Opening Night Rooftop Party. Some arrivals and departures that would normally use the North Complex will be routed to the South Complex (Runway 7L/24R and Runway 7R/24L) instead. Runway 6R/24L will see both arrivals and departures. We’ll post more info here if and when we receive it.

You can also join our email newsletter for updates during the weekend and about future events.

Getting Around

There are many ways to get around the LAX area. Rental cars are an option, albeit an expensive one. Uber and Lyft are another option you can utilize. There is also bus service in the area:

Beach Cities Transit Route 109 begins at the LAX City Bus Center, a block north of the H Hotel. The route will take you to both The Proud Bird and Imperial Hill. The cash fare is $1.00 each way, and they also accept the TAP App for mobile payments. Buses depart on average every 40-60 minutes. In-N-Out and spots along Sepulveda Blvd are walkable from the H Hotel and the LAX City Bus Center.

Big Blue Bus Route 3 will take you from the LAX City Bus Center and get you to about a 10 minute walk from the Westchester Parkway Bridge. The cash fare is $1.25 each way, and there is a small discount for paying with the TAP App or one of the other mobile ticket apps that they accept. Buses depart on average every 13-20 minutes throughout the day.

Popular Spotting Locations Around LAX

Here are several of the most popular spotting locations around LAX:

Imperial Hill

One of the iconic LAX plane spotting locations. Very popular and well attended by the locals. It is best for Runway 25R departures. Some will cross the ATC tower as they take off. You’ll also see Runway 25L arrivals on the ground as they hold short before crossing 25R and lots of taxiing aircraft. There is also an excellent view of the Tom Bradley International Terminal and the alleyway between the main terminal and the West Gates. Bring a telephoto lens that is capable of at least 250mm for this location. A lens capable of 300mm-400mm is better. On-street parking is usually readily available within a short walk, and it is very close to the bus stop.

In-N-Out Burger and the park across the street

You wanna get close to planes? This is the place! Though the planes are backlit for photos most of the day, the avgeek ambiance can’t be beat! You’ll see Runway 24R arrivals here. Any lens from a wide angle to a super telephoto can work here if you get creative. For more ‘vanilla’ shots, a standard telephoto lens that covers the 24mm-70mm range will suit you well here. We suggest trying some head-on/tail-on shots from near the approach light towers. Wide angle panning shots after dark can also be a lot of fun.  Be aware that the street here can get a little crazy between the vehicles going to In-N-Out and the traffic in and out of the Parking Spot garage. A line of vehicles often forms from the Sepulveda Blvd intersection waiting to access the drive thru. Approach from the Westchester Parkway end of the street for the best results.


Spotting from the roof of The Parking Spot is strongly discouraged. Their security patrols are frequent and they will kick you out whether you’ve parked there or not.

The Proud Bird

Great for 25L arrivals on short final. Grab a drink, a snack, or even a full meal and enjoy one of the most family friendly spots around LAX.  For heavies, you’ll want a lens in the 50mm to 100mm range. For narrowbodies, regional jets, and business jets, you’ll want a lens that can cover 100mm to 200mm. Park in their parking lot at the corner of W 111th Street and Aviation Blvd. The bus stop is also at that intersection. When you arrive, walk straight through the restaurant to access the patio and outdoor space. This is a private business, so be sure to show your appreciation for the use of their facilities by making a purchase on every visit. The Proud Bird opens at 11:00am Tuesday through Sunday. It closes at 9:00pm Friday and Saturday and 7:00pm all other days.

Sepulveda Blvd

This is a great place to catch Runway 24R arrivals as they cross Sepulveda Blvd. Stand on the grass or sidewalk on either side of the street. You can also take the stairs up to the Vicksburg Ave bridge for an elevated view. Anything from 24mm to 400mm can work in this area, depending on where you position yourself.

Park by In-N-Out and walk south along Sepulveda Blvd. It is also within walking distance of both the H Hotel and the LAX passenger terminals. Be very mindful of the traffic in this area. There are several converging and diverging roadways off of Sepulveda Blvd, some of which do not have marked crosswalks. Bring water with you as there is very little shade here. 

Westchester Parkway Bridge

One of our favorite spots at LAX.  Enjoy 24R arrivals as they touch down and 24L departures as they rotate. You will want a lens that can go to 300mm or 400mm here, but that also goes to at least 100mm on the wide end. The light here is only good for photos after about 5:00pm in September, so keep that in mind.

Park at the lot for Westchester Park on Lincoln Blvd and walk in (5 minutes). The nearest bus stop is located at Lincoln Blvd and W Manchester Ave, an 11 minute walk. From either place, walk along Lincoln Blvd towards the airport. At the bridge and entrance to the police station, you’ll find a path up the embankment. Cross Westchester Pkwy to the area behind the guardrail directly across the street. Use great care as the cars and bicycles move very quickly here.

Along Lincoln Blvd

Southwest 737 just before touching down on runway 24R at LAX during SpotLAX in 2021.An alternative to the Westchester Parkway bridge, with the same considerations regarding time of day. 24R arrivals touch down in front of you, while 24L departures begin their takeoff roll. A 70-200mm lens is ideal here for most arrivals and departures. For the longest aircraft, you will want something wider or to get creative with your shots.

Parking is the same as for IN-N-Out. Walk down Lincoln Blvd from In-N-Out until you’re at the line of trees on the hill. There aren’t any good public transportation options here, though you could try having a rideshare drop you off at the closest safe spot. Do not park along Lincoln Blvd.

H Hotel Roof Deck

The elevated view from the roof deck on the 12th floor of the H Hotel is hard to beat. Arrivals on Runway 24R are nearly level with you as they approach the runway. You also have an excellent overhead view of Runway 24L and can see down the length of the runway. Though often backlit, there are also views of arrivals and departures on the south side of the airport. You’ll want at least a 300mm to 400mm lens up here. An even longer lens can work as well, the photo to the left was taken with an almost fully extended Sigma 150-600mm lens.

Access to the roof deck is usually reserved for hotel guests. They may have day passes available, inquire at the front desk. There are restrooms on the 12th floor. There is a coffee shop and a bar on the first floor, as well as a Subway outside the rear entrance.

Vista Del Mar

Located on the opposite side of the hill at the end of the LAX runways. Parking here can be very challenging. Good for a view of departing long-haul heavies as they climb out. Anything lighter will probably be too high in the sky for good photos. This area is your best bet for arrivals in the early morning (before 6:30am or so) while the airport is still on reverse ops. 

A note about Dockweiler Beach State Park: One of the most common questions we’re asked is “What is the spotting like along the beach?” The answer is simple: not great. The beach is about 100′ below the runways and anywhere from 1 1/4 to 2 miles from where they rotated. Even the heaviest aircraft will probably be too high in the sky for a good photo.


Friday, September 8

6:30am – 4:00pm: Spotting All Day!

Enjoy the various spotting locations around LAX. Meet up with friends and enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of the airport. The Flight Path Museum on Imperial Highway near Qantas Cargo is open from noon until 4:00pm. The H Overlook roof deck at the H Hotel opens for guests at 6:30am.

Opening Night Party graphic4:00pm – 9:00pm: SpotLAX2023 Opening Night Party
A brand new event on the calendar this year is the #SpotLAX2023 Opening Night Rooftop Spotting Party. It will be held on the roof of the H Hotel Los Angeles (6151 W Century Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045).  This event is open to all and gives the perfect opportunity to meet new friends, renew friendships and with the ambiance of landing and taking off aircraft in the background, spend an evening talking all subjects aviation.  For those staying at the H Hotel, the event is free and for all others, there will be a $10 entrance fee. A limited amount of discounted $8 parking is available at the hotel for this event. Buy your tickets here, supplies are limited.

Saturday, September 9

6:30am – 11:00am: Morning Spotting

Enjoy that golden early morning light! Cargo and flights from Australia are the highlights of the first hour. Flights from Asia and South America Are highlights of the rest of the morning.  

11:00am: Cranky Dorkfest
Crankyflier’s annual Cranky Dorkfest will be held at In-n-Out Burger (9149 S Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045).  A chance to meet up with all the weekend’s attendees with aircraft of all sizes buzzing overhead.  For more details on Cranky Dorkfest, head on over to

1:00pm – 6:30pm: Afternoon Spotting

Pick the location of your choice around LAX. You’re sure to run into some other spotters while you’re there.

6:30pm – 8:30pm: Annual Dinner and Raffle

At the original “NYCAviation LAX Meetup” in 2013, dinner at The Proud Bird was our singular organized event. 10 years later, the event is now known as SpotLAX and The Proud Bird has completely reinvented itself. However our tradition of holding a dinner and raffle continues. By popular demand, we’ve once again reserved the patio behind the restaurant for this year’s dinner. Order in person or online from the wide range of food and beverage options their food hall format has to offer. Our raffle will include SpotLAX Hats, JetTip and FlightRadar24 memberships, and gift certificates from Jetset Shirts and Panic Vectors (aviation themed stickers). The Proud Bird is open until 9pm on Saturday evening.

8:00pm – 10:00pm: LAX After Dark

Grab your tripod and your fast lenses, and enjoy one of the most photogenic airports at night! Imperial Hill, In-N-Out Burger, and the H Hotel Roof Deck all provide great and varied opportunities for nighttime photography.

Sunday, September 10th

6:30am – 9:00am: Early Morning Spotting

Catch your favorite arrivals from Asia, Australia, South America, and more!

9:00am – 11:00am: Donuts on the Deck Hill, Sponsored by JetTip

This perennial favorite returns, now in a new location! Head on over to Imperial Hill (aka Clutters Park) for coffee and a donut or two from the world famous Randy’s Donuts. We thank JetTip for once again sponsoring this event.

11:00am – 5:30pm: Afternoon spotting and farewells

Enjoy a quieter afternoon of spotting around LAX. With the Chargers playing an afternoon game at SoFi Stadium nearby, there is a chance we’ll see the Goodyear Blimp again this year.

5:30pm – 7:30pm: Straggler Meetup at the Westchester Parkway Bridge

If you’re still around, join us at one of our favorite LAX spots: the Westchester Parkway Bridge over Lincoln Blvd.

7:30pm – 10:00pm: The Last Hurrah

Grab a bite for dinner and enjoy the last few hours of SpotLAX2023.

Please keep an eye on this post for other exciting events that will become part of the weekend festivities.  Please remember to use the hashtag #SpotLAX2023 on any social media posts so we can share them.

We look forward to seeing everyone in Los Angeles For SpotLAX!!

About the Author

NYCAviation Staff



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