Our member Jan visited Seoul Incheon in March 2014 and wrote a guide about it with a total of four spots. Incheon International Airport is the largest airport in South Korea and the main international gateway for its capital Seoul. In 2001 Incheon replaced the older Gimpo International Airport, which is now mostly used for domestic and regional flights. In 2013 Incheon handled almost 41.5 million passengers. It also became one of the largest cargo hubs in the world, ranking 4th in 2013. This of course is mainly due to the largo cargo operations of local carriers Korean Air and Asiana.
These two airlines also generate most of the schedules passenger traffic. Though they operate more flights from Gimpo, you will also find most of the local low-cost carriers here like Eastar Jet, Jeju Air, Jin Air or T’way Airlines. Due to the location you will also find a few Chinese and Japanese carriers here, most notably JAL, ANA, Air China, China Southern and China Eastern. But also the smaller Japanese carriers like Vanilla Air or Peach can be found here. Of course you will also see some of the well-known larger airlines like Cathay, KLM, Singapore, Etihad, Emirates, Delta, Air Canada or Thai.
A very helpful tool for your spotting days is the official airport website, which gives you information about all the flights (even cargo!) and also accurate ETAs.
Most of the locations are only or better used with 33/34 operations. This runway direction is best for your visit.
Written by Jan Seba (visited March 2014)
|Rating||Movements|| Visitor Rating
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|3.750 m (12.303 ft)||3.750 m (12.303 ft)||4.000 m (13.123 ft)|
|Terminals||Main Terminal||Satellite Concourse|
|Mostly local carriers||Mostly foreign carriers|
|Spotting Information||Ladder||Not required|
|Car||Not required. The spots can be reached using a mix of buses, taxis and on foot. For taxis, make sure the driver uses the taximeter, as they will try to rip you off with high prices if you simply jump in. It is advisable to prepare some maps at home to show to the taxi driver. Make sure the maps have the written name (in Korean!) of the location (or streets) where you want to go. Do not expect taxi drivers to speak English. Though some of them know one or two words it will never be enough so that you can explain where you want to go.|
|Restrooms||Inside terminal buildings/restaurants around the airport.|
|Drinks/Food||Inside terminal buildings and in the business area south of the airport|
|Hotels||South of the airport there are a few hotels and apartments, which are convenient for spotting.|
|Season||Weather is best in spring starting from March to May. October is also fairly good. Try to avoid the summer as it gets very rainy and the sun altitude is also very high.|
|Runway Usage||15R/33L||Main departure runway for passenger traffic|
|15L/33R||Main landing runway for passenger traffic and also main cargo runway, both for landings and departures.|
|16/34||Alternately used for passenger arrivals and departures in peak times. Provided is a list of approximate times. They will vary depending on the traffic peaks of the individual day:
|Spot #1 – Meadow – 33R Arrivals Morning|
|WHERE||Unfortunately this location is very far from the recommended hotels south of the airport. You can either get here by taxi or go by foot, which takes at least 20 minutes. From the hotels take the small foot- and cycle path next to the golfing range towards the sea. Then turn left and go straight for a kilometer until you will go below the airport road and reach the park which is to your left now. Continue on the way and cross the approach paths of both runways. After a few more meters you will reach the road running parallel to the runway. Follow this road a bit to the northwest and you are there.|
|WHAT||This is the morning location for arrivals on the eastern RWY 33R. As you are in a field you can vary your location according to your preferences regarding angle and distance.|
|TIME||Best light conditions are from sunrise to 9 AM.|
|MISC.||There is nothing nearby, so take what you need with you.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||Just below 100mm for a B773 and 180mm for an A320.|
|Spot #2 – Aviation Park – 33R Arrivals Evening|
|WHERE||If you already know the way to spot #1, getting here is pretty easy. Instead of going straight after the airport road, now simply turn left into the park. From here it is advised to continue on any of the walkways in the park in northwestern direction for a couple more meters so that the angle gets better. Unfortunately you have to be a bit further away to reach a “good” angle for your shots.|
|WHAT||This is the evening location for arrivals on the eastern RWY 33R. The park is huge and you can vary your location according to your preferences regarding angle and distance.|
|TIME||Best light conditions are from 1 PM to sunset.|
|MISC.||There are a few benches in the park, otherwise take what you need with you.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||Sample images are 130mm for a B744 and 240mm for a B738, but you can also go closer (trading for a worse angle).|
|Spot #3 – Sky Deck – 34 Departures & Arrivals|
|WHERE||It is located far from the other spots and not within walking distance. You can either grab a taxi to get there or take bus 306 from the Main Terminal Departure level. The bus stop to get off is called “Paradise Hotel” and the trip should take around 15 minutes.The top of that building is the Sky Deck.|
|WHAT||The observation deck gives you a great overview over RWY 34 and you get the opportunity to take some action shots on the ground with the terminals in the background. But bear in mind that you are extremely far away here, heat haze will be a problem und everything but the heavies will be way too small to take good photographs of.|
|TIME||Best light conditions are from 1 PM to sunset.|
|MISC.||This spot was not visited, but it is the most well-known and should present no problem for spotters.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||Almost 300mm for B773 and A380s.|
|Spot #4 – Terminal – Main Apron & Connecting Taxiway|
|WHERE||There are some good location inside the Terminal (you have to be airside) to take some shots through the glass. There is no “one location” that can be sued for that. In the main terminal there are some good locations at the end of the two terminal piers facing the northwest. Towards the evening you should move to a location facing the east, so either the eastern pier facing the lineup or the western pier facing the apron between the two piers.Unfortunately the satellite concourse A is only open for passengers with flights from that area, but even if your flight is from there you will have no way to move back to main terminal after you took the underground connection.|
|WHAT||If RWY 33L is used for takeoffs you can get some good shots of the lineup in the afternoon. In the morning or around noon it is best to shoot towards the connecting taxiway, which runs vertical to the runways. Of course you can always take pushback or taxi-in/taxi-out shots at the stands. The windows are only slightly tinted so the colors can be easily corrected during post processing.Whether the satellite also offers good photos could not be tested, but is likely that it is similarly good.|
|TIME||You will find a location to take some shots from sunrise to sunset.|
|MISC.||Of course there are shops, restaurants and restrooms in the terminal.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||Varies a lot, the United B772 on the front taxiway is 45mm and the Czech A330 on the back taxiway is 110mm.|