Osaka Kansai Intl. Airport Spotting Guide

Kansai International Airport (RJBB / KIX) is the international airport of Osaka and the Kansai region (including the cities of Kobe, Kyoto and Nara). The airport is located approx. 50 km south of Osaka on an artificial island in Osaka Bay, near the city of Izumisano to which it is connected by bridge. About 17 million passengers are handled per year.

The airport was opened as Japan’s first offshore airport in September 1994. The second runway was opened in 2007, while a new low cost terminal was opened recently. ANA, JAL and Jetstar Japan are common sights at KIX. ANA subsidiary Peach Aviation is based here. The major carriers of the Far East serve the airport as well as various smaller Chinese and Korean operators. Long Haul operators include Air France (777),  Finnair (A330), KLM (787) and Lufthansa (747) from Europe, Emirates (777) from the Middle East, EgyptAir (only occasional Charters, 77W) from Africa, Delta (767) and United (777) from the U.S. as well as Aircalin (A330), Air New Zealand (787) and Jetstar (A330) from Oceania. Japan Coast Guard operates a Saab 340, which is based at KIX and can therefore be seen here quite often. Good weather is common at this airport, but during the hot summer months you sometimes have to face misty conditions.

Written by Maximilian Ono (Last time visited: March 2017), thanks to Tomoto providing pics of spot2.

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Airline Variety
Photo Locations
Weather
Airport Information Runways 06L/24R 06R/24L
4.000 m 3.500 m
Terminals Terminal 1 Terminal 2
all othe airlines Peach Aviation
Spotting Information Ladder not required
Car not required
Restrooms Inside terminal buildings and observation hall.
Drinks/Food Inside terminal buildings and observation hall.
Hotels Nikko Hotel between the two terminal buildings. Possibly there are other hotels on the shore in Izumisano.
Season The chance for Runway 24 operations is higher during the summer months.
Runway Usage 06L/24R Landings in both directions
06R/24L Take-Offs in both directions and few landings in off-peak times
The chance for Runway 24 operations is higher in the summer and in the afternoon. The chance for Runway 06 operations is higher in the winter and in the morning.

Spot #1 – Observation Hall – Runway 06R departures, Runway 24L arrivals&departures, Overview of the main Apron
WHERE Leave Terminal 1 on the ground floor (international arrivals) and look for the Nankai Bus stop to Observation Hall. You have to pay a little amount for the bus, but the Observation Hall is for free. The ride takes about 5 minutes and includes audio commentary in English. Inside Observation Hall, take the escalator upstairs. The spectators’ facilities are located on 4th and 5th floor.
WHAT The place is famous for spotting planes on final to Runway 24L with the access bridge in the background. You have to use the 5th floor for this, as otherwise the Coast Guard building will be in the way. Besides, you can also spot planes lining up on Runway 24L or departing on Runway 06R. Movements on the northern end of the main apron can also be seen. Please note this runway is rarely used for landings
TIME Best light conditions are in the afternoon and early evening. In the morning, movements on the runway are in backlight.
MISC. Food and drinks can be bought inside Observation Hall, but it’s also possible to bring in food from outside to eat it here. There are various benches and seating opportunities inside the building as well as on the building’s terraces. Monitors show the current flight information (including cargo movements). Models and Souvenirs can be bought here, too.
FOCAL LENGTH Up to 200mm for 737on final approach runway 24L, up to 140mm for 737 during line-up. For departures on runway 06R and planes taxiing on the apron, you’ll need bigger lenses.
Spot #2 –  Terminal 1 (North Wing) – Movements on the apron
WHERE Leave Terminal 1 on the 4th floor (International Departures), turn right outside the Terminal building and follow the street just a few steps.
WHAT Aircraft taxiing to and from stands No. 1 to 7 (North Wing)
TIME Best light conditions in the afternoon (12 – 5 P.M.)
MISC. You’ll find everything you need inside the Terminal building. Sometimes there are very few movements visible from this place, so check the airport website www.kansai-airport.or.jp to find out when gates N1-N7 will be used. Heat haze can cause problems, especially when an APU of a parked aircraft is running.
FOCAL LENGTH Approx. 200-400 mm for aircraft on the taxiways. 50-200 mm for aircraft turning into their stands.

Spot #3 – Terminal 1 (South Wing) – Movements on the apron
WHERE Leave Terminal 1 on the 4th floor (International Departures), turn left outside the Terminal building and follow the street just a few steps.
WHAT Aircraft taxiing to and from stands No. 35 to 41 (South Wing). You can also see aircraft taxiing from Runway 06L/24R to the Terminal 1 apron in the background.
TIME Only useful in the early morning. Backlight is a problem at all other times.
MISC. You’ll find everything you need inside the Terminal building. Check the airport website www.kansai-airport.or.jp to find out when gates S35-S41 will be used. Heat haze can cause problems, especially when an APU of a parked aircraft is running.
FOCAL LENGTH Approx. 200-400 mm for aircraft on the taxiways. 50-200 mm for aircraft turning into their stands.

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6 thoughts on “Osaka Kansai Intl. Airport Spotting Guide

  1. Jean-François

    As Daniel said, the shuttle bus to Observation Hall is now free. There is also a cheaper alternative to the airport hotel as a capsule hotel recently opened at Aeroplaza, I paid only 36€ for one night and it’s super clean.

  2. Daniel

    Been at KIX today. One update: bus is now free and leaves from bus stop one.
    As the weather was bad (storm + heavy rain) the outside area was closed. Photographing through the windows is doable, however they are tinted – about 2 stops of light for door windows, 3 for others.

    1. Laurent Detem

      thx.
      We plan to go on september. we will most probably stay a the hotel in the airport.
      Any chance to take pictures from there?

  3. didier

    Hi there.i am maybe planning a trip to Barcelona in February ,i know it’s cold but is plane spotting still a possibility? Is spot .number 1 an official viewing area,I’m looking to visit an international airport that has demarcated official viewing areas outside like schipol ,any recommendations?even Asia
    Thanks

    1. JulianJulian

      Hi, yes the platform at BCN spot 1 is an official viewing area. There are still airports in Europe with an official terrace. Zurich, Düsseldorf, Berlin, Frankfurt are the big ones. Just Check our guides.

      Regards
      Julian

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