Hamburg Fuhlsbüttel Airport Spotting Guide

Hamburg Airport (Fuhlsbuettel, EDDH / HAM) is located approx. 8 km north of downtown Hamburg. In 2015 the airport handled for the first time 15 million passengers.

HAM is the oldest German airport still located in the original place. It was opened in 1911. The current runway system was completed by 1964. After plans to construct a new airport outside the city near the village of Kaltenkirchen were stopped, the airport was expanded since the 1980s with the new control tower (1988), Terminal 2 (1993), the completion of the pier (2004), and Terminal 1 (2005).

Lufthansa, Eurowings Air Berlin are the two major airlines at HAM. Besides, most other German and major European airlines serve HAM. Overseas operators are Emirates (twice daily with 777 to Dubai), Iran Air (with A300/310 to Tehran IKA on Thursdays and Sundays), Tunis Air (with varios aircraft types on various days according to the season to Tunisia), and United (daily in the summer, only a few times a week in winter, with 767 to Newark). Also European Low Cost Carriers like EasyJet or Ryanair are starting bases in Hamburg and are rapidly expanding.

Besides the regular visitors, nice surprises appear quite often. On one hand, Lufthansa Technik maintenance facilities are located at HAM which means VIP customers sometimes send their jets for maintenance or overhaul jobs. On the other hand, Airbus production facilities at Finkenwerder are in the same city, so sometimes new Airbus jets make low approaches at HAM during their test flights. However, the chance to see such a low approach is significantly lower during weekends or holidays.

The weather is often cloudy and wet, but less hot in summer and less cold in winter compared to other German cities.

Written by Maximilian Ono / regular visitor and Johann Stürken / based in Hamburg

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Airline Variety
Photo Locations
Weather
Airport Information Runways 05/23 15/33
3.250 m 3.666 m
Terminals Terminal 1 Terminal 2
all other airlines Star Alliance, Condor, Germanwings, Sun Expres, Vueling
Spotting Information Ladder Not required at most locations, otherwise mentioned below.
Car Public transportation infrastructure with busses and subway is well established around the airport, but a car is still useful
Restrooms Inside terminal buildings/restaurants around the airport.
Drinks/Food Inside terminal buildings and at some other locations (mentioned below).
Hotels Around the airport
Season Traffic is more interesting and the chance for good weather is higher during the summer season (April to October).
Runway Usage  05 18% of landings, 6% of takeoffs
15 28% of landings, 1% of takeoffs
23 51% of landings, 29% of takeoffs
33 3% of landings, 64% of takeoffs. Most common combinations are:
RWY23 or 05 arrivals with RWY33 departures and RWY15 arrivals with RWY23 departures

Spot #1 – Terminal 1 Oberservation deck – Overview of Apron 1
WHERE From Terminal 1 departure level go two levels upstairs and you’ll find the entrance next to a restaurant.
WHAT You can mainly spot planes taxiing on the main apron.
TIME Best light conditions are in the morning, but the spot stays useful until the early afternoon. Nightshots can be done here as well.
MISC. Pictures have to be taken through glass, but walking with a ladder across the Terminal might be a bad idea. The least refexion problems occur on sunny mornings.
FOCAL LENGTH depends on how distant the aircraft taxies past (usually 70-220 mm).
Spot #2 – Terminal 2 Oberservation deck – Lineup area RWY 33 and Overview of Apron 1
WHERE From Terminal 2 departure level go two levels upstairs and you#ll find the entrance next to a restaurant.
WHAT You can mainly spot planes taxiing on the main apron and lining up on Runway 33.
TIME Best light conditions are in the morning, but the spot stays useful until the early afternoon.
MISC. Pictures have to be taken through glass, but walking with a ladder across the Terminal might be a bad idea. The least refexion problems occur on sunny mornings. Nightshots can be done here as well.
FOCAL LENGTH depends on how distant the aircraft taxies past (usually 70-220 mm).

Spot #3 – Flughafenstrasse bridge – Final Approach Runway 23
WHERE Leave Terminal 1 to the left and walk along the road until you come to a bridge across the perimeter road.
WHAT When Runway 23 is used for arrivals, this is one of the recommended spots.
TIME Best light conditions are in the morning, but the spot stays useful until about 3 PM.
MISC. There is a little kiosk behind the bridge (just look for a small hut with a chips logo on top). If it’s hot and you need shadow you can leave the bridge just behind the perimeter road and walk down the stairs to the left. From there you can walk under the bridge into the shadow. But make sure you won’t miss an aircraft there!
FOCAL LENGTH 135mm for A319, approx. 60mm. for 777-300.

Spot #4 – Ruumk – Final Approach Runway 23
WHERE Leave Terminal 1 to the left and walk along the road until you come to a bridge across the perimeter road. Leave the bridge just behind the perimeter road down the stairs. Then go along the bicycle path. After passing the approach lighting system of Runway 23 you can choose the perfect distance to spot.
WHAT Runway 23 arrivals.
TIME Good light conditions begin in the late afternoon, so move over from Spot #3 at about 4 PM.
MISC. Approaching planes can be seen very late, so be prepared to spot even if you still don’t hear a plane coming.
FOCAL LENGTH approx. 100mm for A319, but depends on where you are exactly standing.
Spot #5 – Coffee To Fly – Departures and Arrivals on Runway 15/33
WHERE By Car refer to the map attached (10 mins. from the terminal buildings). Parking facilities are very close to the shop. On cold days you can even sit inside your car and leave if a plane comes past.Public transportation access is possible, but rather difficult: Take Subway S1 to “Ohlsdorf” station, change to subway U1 to “Langenhorn Markt” station. There you change to bus line 24 or 193 and leave at the stop “Wrangelkoppel”. Turn left into the street “Wrangelkoppel” and walk along that street to its end, then turn right towards the hill.The walk takes at least 15 mins.!
WHAT Departures onRunway 15/33. 737/A320 usually rotate near the hill. Arrivals on Runway 15/33 vacate the runway on exit C next to the hill earliest. Arrivals on runway 33 and departures on runway 15 (both are very rare) use taxiway D which is very close.
TIME Good light conditions end by 11 AM, so move over to Spots #6, 7 or 8 later.
MISC. Take a cup of coffee or tea, a piece of cake or a hot dog at “Coffee To Fly” shop on top of the hill. Restrooms are located behind the shop.
FOCAL LENGTH 135mm (?) for A320 on the runway, 70mm (?) for A320 on taxiway D.

Spot #6 – moor – Approaches and Lineups to Runway 15
WHERE By Car refer to the map attached (15-20 mins. from the terminal buildings). I don’t know any parking opportunities but there certainly are some in the neighbourhood. Public transportation access is possible, but rather difficult: Take Subway S1 to “Ohlsdorf” station, change to subway U1 to “Langenhorn Markt” station. There you change to bus line 24 and leave at the stop “Sperlingsweg”. Facing to the runway tunnel, turn left into the street “Lurchweg”, at its end turn right towards the fence, then again left along the fence next to the runway.After some 100 metres, approaching planes will be high enough to be seen above the fence and bushes. The walk takes about 20 mins.
WHAT Mainly approaches to runway 15. As aircrafts will be passing over the piano stripes, this will give a nice effect for the lightning so try and remember where you have to click 😉
TIME Good light conditions from about noon.
MISC. This is an area of protected landscape, so stay on the paths and don’t leave any litter. If you want to spot lineups, you’ll need a ladder. Also beware of the insects around in the summer…rumours go that there are some nasty ones around.
FOCAL LENGTH 110mm for A319, 60mm for 777-200.


Spot #7 – walking route next to Runway 15/33 – Departures on Runway 33
WHERE By Car refer to the map attached (15-20 mins. from the terminal buildings). I don’t know any parking opportunities but there certainly are some in the neighbourhood. Public transportation access is possible, but rather difficult: Take Subway S1 to “Ohlsdorf” station, change to subway U1 to “Langenhorn Markt” station. There you change to bus line 24 and leave at the stop “Sperlingsweg”. Facing to the runway tunnel, turn right into the small street towards the runway, at its end turn left again and follow the walking path until you reach the benches. The walk takes about 5 mins.
WHAT Most runway 33 departures are high enough so you can avoid the bushes and trees in the picture. Runway 15 arrivals are already on the ground here, so you won’t catch them behind the bushes.
TIME Good light conditions from about noon.
FOCAL LENGTH 90mm for A320.
Spot #8 – walking route north of Runway 05/23 – Arrivals and Linup to Runway 05, Departures on Runway 23
WHERE By Car refer to the map attached (15-20 mins. from the terminal buildings). You can park your car in “Engernweg” street. Public transportation access is possible: Take the car park shuttle bus to “Lufthansa Basis Haupteingang”, then change to Bus line 23 towards “Niendorf Markt” and leave at “Voigt-Cordes-Damm”. Turn left into “Voigt-Cordes-Damm” street. This street leads directly towards the airport fence. Turn left again and follow the fence until you reach the benches. The walk takes about 10 mins.
WHAT This is the perfect spot for planes on final approach to Runway 05 as well as for lineups on this Runway.Most runway 23 departures are already too high but some departure shots should be possible.
TIME Good light conditions from about 5 PM until sunset.
MISC. Sit down and relax on the benches or talk to other spotters on summer evenings when Runway 05 is active. The ground is higher than the fence here, so you don’t need a ladder.
FOCAL LENGTH 90mm for A320.
Spot #9 – Parking area in Niendorf – Arrivals to Runway 05
WHERE By Car refer to the map attached (15-20 mins. from the terminal buildings). Try to park your car in the neighbourhood and avoid the parking area itself as it is reserved to visitors of the local shopping mall and gym. Public transportation access is possible: Take the car park shuttle bus to “Lufthansa Basis Haupteingang”, then change to Bus line 23 towards “Niendorf Markt” and leave at “Niendorfer Strasse”. Cross the busy street in front and enter the parking area behind the gym building. The walk takes about 5 mins.
WHAT You can spot Runway 05 arrivals from here. Runway 23 departures might be too high in the air when passing this place.
TIME Good light conditions until about 3 PM.
MISCELLANEOUS Make sure you are ready to spot as planes can be seen very late. Try to park your car in the neighbourhood and avoid the parking area with your car.
FOCAL LENGTH 165mm for A320.

Spot #10 – walking route south of Runway 05/23 – Arrivals and Linup to Runway 05, Departures on Runway 23
WHERE By Car refer to the map attached (approx.10 mins. from the terminal buildings). You can park your car either in “Voigt-Cordes-Damm” street or near the western end of Lufthansa Technik apron. Public transportation access is possible: Take the car park shuttle bus to “Lufthansa Basis Haupteingang”, then change to Bus line 23 towards “Niendorf Markt” and leave at “Bekstuck”. Follow the small river northbound until you reach the airport fence. The walk takes about 10 mins.
WHAT You can spot Runway 05 arrivals from here. If you’ve got a small lense, you can spot Runway 05 lineups through the fence. Some Runway 23 departures might be low enough to be spotted, but the majority already passes quite high.
TIME Good light conditions until about 3 PM.
MISC. If you follow the airport fence towards the terminals, you’ll reach the western end of the Lufthansa Technik apron within some 20 minutes. If you’re lucky, some jets will be parked outside the hangars, but usually there is handling or maintenance equipment in front, so spotting is difficult here. For shots onto the maintenance area or shots of Runway 05 lineups, a ladder is necessary.
FOCAL LENGTH approx. 100mm for A320.
Spot #11 – top level of multi-storey car park P8 – Arrivals to Runway 33
WHERE You can park your car on one of the parking areas around the terminal and continue by bus. Take the car park shuttle bus to “Lufthansa Basis Haupteingang” or “car park P8”
WHAT In the rare case of Runway 33 arrivals this is the perfect place to be. Besides, you have a nice view of the main apron. Also with the new cargo center under the approach having a white roof you’ll get the shots with light on the bottom of the planes as well.
TIME Good light conditions from about noon.
FOCAL LENGTH 135mm for A319.

Spot #12 – top level of multi-storey car park P5 – Lineups and Arrivals on Runway 33, Departures on Runway 15
WHERE You can walk from the terminal buildings.
WHAT Usually Runway 33 lineups.In the rare case of Runway 33 arrivals or Runway 15 departures you can also spot from here. Besides, you have a nice view of parts of the main apron.
TIME Good light conditions until 11AM.
MISC. Restrooms and restaurants can be easily accessed as the Terminal buildings are very near. The car park is actually reserved for visitors who parked their car here. So if you only come for spotting without a car, staff might contact you.
FOCAL LENGTH approx. 180mm for A319.
Spot #13 – cargo truck parking (Norderstedt)– Arrivals on Runway 15
WHERE Northern end of RWY 15/33. For access by car refer to the map. Fur public transportation take Subway S1 to “Ohlsdorf” station, change to subway U1 to “Langenhorn Markt” station. There you change to bus line 24 (direction “Niendorf Markt”) and leave at the stop “Krohnstiegtunnel”. Facing to the runway tunnel, turn right into “Niendorfer Strasse” street (Note: This street has the same name as in the description of Spot #9, but it’s another street because Spot #9 is located in Hamburg while this spot #13 is outside the city border). At the next bus stop sign (approx. the 5th traffic lights / a walk of 10 minutes), turn left into “Nordportbogen” in front of the Casio facilities. Then choose your favourite location to spot.
WHAT Runway 15 approaches
TIME This is only a spot for the early morning until 10:30 AM.
MISC. Possibly one can eat in the small restaurant at the corner “Niendorfer Strasse” / “Nordportbogen”, but we don’t know when they open. So be prepared to bring your food and drinks with you.
FOCAL LENGTH approx. 135mm for A319.

Spot #14 – top level of multi-storey car park P1 – Lineups and arrivals on Runway 23, departures on Runway 05
WHERE You  can park your car inside the building or walk from the terminals. Once you reached the top level for parking, you’ll find a kind of a terrace even another level higher – that’s the place for the spotters to be.
WHAT Similar to spot #3 for Runway 23 approaches. You have a better angle from here and you can also catch runway 23 lineups. If Runway 05 is in use for departures you can try to catch the heavies from here, but most planes will be too high. Besides, you can see parts of the main apron.
TIME Good light conditions from 8 AM until 2 PM.
MISC. Restrooms and restaurants can be easily accessed as the Terminal buildings are very near.
FOCAL LENGTH For approaches approx. 100 (Boeing 777) – 200mm (A319)

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