Milano Malpensa Spotting Guide

Milano Malpensa International Airport was one of the two hub of Alitalia since 31 march 2008 then moved 72% to Rome Fiumicino. Malpensa is the second busiest airport in Italy with two runways and two Terminals. Terminal 2 is used exclusive by Easyjet while all other carriers based at Terminal 1 and its three satellites. There is also a cargo terminal called CargoCity which currently handles over 435’000 tons of traffic annually. The airport is located 40 kilometres northwest of central Milano. Malpensa handled in 2016 19.3 Mio. passengers.

The most interesting traffic at MXP is cargo flights (Air BridgeCargo, Asiana, Cargolux, Cathay Pacific, DHL, Egyptair, Etihad, Emirates, Lufthansa, Fedex, Korean, Nippon, Qatar, Royal Air Marco, Saudia, Silk Way, Swiftair, ULS Cargo and Turkish) mostly use A33F, B77F and B74F. The main traffic is generated by Easyjet followed by Meridiana, Blue Panorama and Neon. Alitalia operates only some long haul flights out of MXP to AUH, NRT and JFK. Nearly all European Full Carriers serving Milan Malpensa. North America is served by American Airlines, Alitalia, Delta Airlines, Ethiad, Emirates and United Airlines. LATAM is the only airline from South America. The Middle East and Asia is served by Air India, Alitalia, Azerbaijan Airlines, Cathay Pacific, ELAL, Emirates, Iran Air, Mahan Air, Middle East  Airlines, Oman Air, PIA, Qatar, Saudia, Thai Airways and Uzbekistan Airlines. Afrika is served by Egypt Air, Ethiopian Airlines, Royal Air Maroc and Tunisair.

During the Summer also many Charter Carriers serving MXP including Air Cairo, Albastar, Europe Airpost, Freebird, Mistral Air, Nesma Airlines, Tunisair and Smartlynx. Due to lack of periods there are also some rush hours with long breaks inbetween, that can also cause that sometimes just one runway is in use for arrivals and departures.

Exact passenger timetable can be found here: http://www.milanomalpensa-airport.com/en/flights/arrivals
For cargo flights use this link: http://www.milanomalpensacargo.eu/en/flights/arrivals

Written by Jeremy Denton, Julian Mittnacht, Gaëtan De Meyer and Patrick Weis (last update June 2017)

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Airline Variety
Photo Locations
Weather
Airport Information    Runways 17L / 35R 17R / 35L
3’900m (12’861ft) 3’900m (12’861ft)
Asphalt Asphalt
Terminals Terminal 1A/B/C Terminal 2
T 1A: domestic and intra-Schengen flightsT 1B + C: non-Schengen and intercontinental flights EasyJet only
Spotting Information Ladder Not necessary except Spot #5.
Car Necessary as there is no public transport to the spotting location
Restrooms Available only at the airport.
Drinks/Food There are some supermarkets and restaurant on the east side of the airport.
Hotels We recommend the hotels (Novotel, Ibis, BestWestern) in the north/east corner in the city of Cardano al Campo. From here you are pretty fast at the most important spotting locations.
Season Due to the North-South configuration of the runways we recommend to spot during summer time as in winter you don’t have much light on each side.
Runway Usage  17L / 35R & 17R / 35L They use mostly runways 35, one for arrivals and one for the departures. Every 24h, between 14:30 and 16:30, they change the runways configuration so the runway who handled all departures is now in use for the arrivals and the other way round.
It is possible that some flights don´t follow this rules and use the other runway instead but this is less than 10 percent of all arrivals.

Spot #1 – Ferno Playground – 35R arrivals and departures
WHERE If you came by the highway A4, take direction Malpensa and exit to Oleggio, Busto Arsizio. Take direction Busto and Ferno. Take the road on the left direction parking Ferno, continue strait for some minutes then turn on the left direction Vissola and first on the right direction Ferno. Continue strait until you’ll see a parking with fences of the airport.
WHAT Excellent spot for landings and departures on runway 35R. You can also have pictures of take-off and arrivals from runway 35L but if you still have a focal length over 450mm and also don’t mind the heat haze.
You have two possibilities to make pictures at this spot. The first is to have a ladder next to the fences at a playground and shot through the fence and the barbed wire. You can also walk a little bit more to the helicopter hangars and spot from there as the runway is very bright which brings some light to the belly of the plane.
The second point is to be on a small hill next to the trees where you park your car and here you don’t need to have a ladder.
TIME From sunrise until noon in summer.
MISC. Bring with you what you need. There are benches and enough shadow to relax. There are sensors on the fence so don´t touch it otherwise the security will arrive pretty soon.
FOCAL LENGTH Rwy35L (380mm = 744, 420mm = 332, 460mm = 763, 510mm = 738)Rwy35R (116mm = 773, 140mm = 744, 290mm = G550, 500mm = Agusta)

Spot #2 – Radar – Arrivals 35R Afternoon
WHERE From spot 1, take the same previous road then at the intersection, take on the right and park your car directly on the right next to the fences. Then walk on the grass for some meters until you reach a radar.
WHAT Good spot for landings rwy35R in the afternoon.
UPDATE 2017: It became hard to photograph from here as the trees are very high now and the time frame to make a picture is only 1-2 seconds which is pretty tricky. Alternative is Spot #7.
TIME From afternoon till sunset in the summer.
MISC. Bring with you what you need.
FOCAL LENGTH 116mm = 772 / 210mm = 320 / 240mm = 145

Spot #3 – Crash Gate – Arrivals 35L Afternoon
WHERE From spot 2, continue the road next to the airport fences, then take the first way on your right. Park your car here but correctly because your are just next to the road.
WHAT Great spot for landings rwy35L in the afternoon.
TIME From afternoon till sunset in the summer.
MISC. Bring with you what you need.
FOCAL LENGTH 116mm = 744 / 140mm = 332 / 210mm = 738

Spot #4 – Terminal 2 – Arrivals 17L Afternoon
WHERE From the spot 3, take direction Terminal 2, Easyjet. Before your arrived at the T2, take the first road on the left, continue strait and park your car next to the road before the security entrance.
WHAT Good spot for landings rwy37L in the afternoon.
TIME From afternoon till sunset in the summer.
MISC. Everything you need within the terminal.
FOCAL LENGTH 95mm = 332 / 170mm = DH8 / 380mm = Piaggio 180

Spot #5 – Perimeter – 35R morning Touchdown
WHERE Park at the parking spot of Spot 1. Follow the fence northbound until you’re at the first corner then turn left past the helicopter hangars and then walk to the runway along the fence turn right and walk a few hundred meter then you’re on the touchdownzone height.
WHAT Good spot for landings rwy35R in the morning for touchdowns. Here you need a high stepladder. There are some small gaps between the barbed wire and the mesh where you can shot through. 
TIME From sunrise till 12:00.
MISC. Bring with you what you need. especially something against the mosquitoes! There are sensors on the fence so don´t touch it otherwise the security will arrive pretty soon.
FOCAL LENGTH 24-150


Spot #6 – Via de Goggo – 35L morning arrival
WHERE From Spot 1 or 2 follow the street straight to the city of Lonate Pozzolo. At the stop sign turn right and the next right again into the unpaved Via Gaggio (Industrial Area). Park at the side of the street and start spotting.
WHAT Good spot for landings rwy35L.
TIME From morning till noon in the summer.
MISC. Bring with you what you need. There is some shadow. Also popular location for biker so be careful.
FOCAL LENGTH 250-400mm


Spot #7 – Via Vittorio – Arrivals 35R evening
WHERE At the stop sign don´t turn right to reach spot #6. Instead turn right at the next intersection and drive always straight for a couple approximate 1,5km. The spot is on the left at the Via Vittorio Veneto.
WHAT Good spot for landings rwy35R in the evening.
TIME From noon till sunset in the summer.
MISC. Bring with you what you need.
FOCAL LENGTH 250-400mm

Spot #8 – Abandoned Tower Building – Taxiway H
WHERE Its a good place when you switch your position when the sun is over the runways and the other spots are useless. Its almost next to number 3, along the perimeter road. There is a small tower where you can climb up. Be careful its a bit tricky and a ladder is helpful to reach the first steps. From here you have a nice and almost clear view over the perimeter fence. You can park your car in the small lay-by next to it.
WHAT This spot is only for aircraft using taxiway H on their way to 35R for departure. Not all aircraft pass by, mainly the heavies and the cargo flights.
TIME Recommended during midday when the sun is over the runway for 90 degree pics. For front photos from morning till afternoon.
MISC. Bring with you what you need. Keep in mind its not everyones thing to climb up the tower.

We heard about experiences that the police asks spotters to climb down the tower and leave the spot, because the building is said to be fraigile!

FOCAL LENGTH 747 NCA = 25mm; MD80 = 140mm


Spot #9 – Parking P1 – Ramp/Taxiway
WHERE Follow the signs to terminal 1 and then to parking P1. If you just make a short stop you don´t even have to enter the parking and stop before it. But don’t wonder if you get a ticket 😉
WHAT From here you can take photos of aircraft parked on the apron between terminal 1 and the cargo building. Usually there is not much standing here but if you are passing by its always worth to have a look.
You may also shot the planes which are pushed back from the right side of concourse A or passing by on the taxiways.
TIME From afternoon till sunset in the summer.
MISC. Everything you need within the terminal. You need a very small lens for your DSLR as the fence has a stiff mesh and is not bigger than 5×5 cm.
FOCAL LENGTH 24mm for the 762 on the first position


Spot #10 – Terminal 1 – Ramp/Taxiway
WHERE The check in area of terminal 1 offers a nice view of the ramp between the concourses A-B and B-C. Just follow the signs to the check in and walk behind the desks to find the massive glass front.
WHAT There are different possibilities for photography. Mainly for aircraft using the taxiway to their gate but its also possible to photograph aircrafts on the taxiway Kilo/Whiskey on the way to the gate or runway.
TIME Depends on what you plan to photograph but its better to be there from the afternoon.
MISC. Everything you need within the terminal. The glass is tinted which can be tricky.
FOCAL LENGTH American 767 = 220mm; Tunisair A320 = 140mm


Spot #11 – Hangars – Departures 35L
WHERE The spot is situated between Terminal 1 and 2, next to some parking lots. From terminal 1 follow the signs to parking P4, pass it to your right and follow the road until you see another parking lot to your right. Park your car either next to the entrance to the parking lots and stay next to your car. Otherwise drive northward and head to the Holiday Inn where you find plenty of free parking spaces (tagged on the map). Now you can decide where are you going to stand.
WHAT Best place for departures on runway 35L. If you stand more southerly light planes will take off just in front of you but you have to be careful with the roof of the buildings and some lights post.
If you walk to the north this spotting point is more easy because planes are little bit more far away from the previously one and you have a better angle. No lightposts, only some trees but planes will be above them. This one is more suitable for heavies (Light and medium planes will be a little bit to high). If you are an easyjet fan, this spotting point is made for you because they will depart from the middle of the runway and they will be at the right position and altidude just in front of you.
Keep in mind sometimes there are ferry flights and some heavies are pretty light and taking off like a rocket (see Wamos 330 and Meridiana 767 below)
TIME From afternoon till sunset in summer.
MISC. Everything you need within the terminals.
FOCAL LENGTH

Southern Location:

Northern Location:

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12 thoughts on “Milano Malpensa Spotting Guide

  1. Lukas

    Have been spotting at MXP last week I just wanted to let you know that – while being at the tower at spot #8 – police stopped by and asked us to get down and do not use this spot anymore, since the building is said to be fraigile and its thus prohibited to climb it… They were quite friendly, however having never heard of any problems before we were a bit surprised.

    Thanks for the guide btw 🙂

    1. SeverinSeverin

      Hi Lukas!

      Thanks for this sad information…
      Guide is updated and thanks for your praise!

      Regards,
      Severin (Spotterguides.net-Team)

    1. JulianJulian

      Hi, there is a bus station in Ferno, the next village to the spots. But you still have to walk from there a long way.
      Check google maps for the bus stop in Ferno.

      -Julian

  2. Yuri

    Hello,

    Just a small question: is it possible to spot inside the airport in the terminal or so?

    Cheers,
    Yuri

    1. JeremyJeremy Post author

      Dear Dan,

      I have asked local spotters about the scanners and it’s not allowed officially. Anyway, scanners are largely use at MXP among the local spotters, they just try to not show off with the authorities and everything is fine. Keep a low profile with it.

      You can easily find flight plans on FlightStats or directly to Milan Malpensa Airport. If you would like to get special incoming aircraft, I suggest you to send an e-mail to: http://www.malpensa-spotters.it/ which is the local spotter website.

      Hoping to have answered your questions.

      Best regards
      Jeremy Denton

      1. Dan

        Thank’s a lot. Good informations. Usually I got the scanner in a pocket with small headphones attached. This summer I plan to go for 2 weeks in Italy and I hope to do some plane spotting in Milano, Bergamo and Verona. If you want information from Romania, feel free to ask.

  3. Joris Witsen

    Many thanks for this extensive and great guide, it helped me a lot!
    In addition to this guide: I recently visited Malpensa and found that a ladder is not really necessary at spot 1. There’s a little bit of elevated ground behind the parking spots and in front of the trees, from where you have a free view over the fence. On sunny weekends, this small space might be crowded with local spotters though! Alternatively, just past the playground at spot 1 trees have been cut and there’s now a steep slope with a good view over the fence.

    1. JeremyJeremy Post author

      Hi Joris,

      I’m happy that the guide helped you 🙂 Thanks for the update for the spot 1, I will mention it.

      Best regards
      Jeremy

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