Warsaw Chopin Airport Spotting Guide

The biggest airport in Poland with the largest traffic, Warsaw Chopin Airport, is home for LOT Polish Airlines. LOT has it’s entire fleet based in WAW. Wizzair also has a base in Warsaw (currently 6 planes) and is the second largest operator. When spotting in Warsaw you won’t get usually any unusual machines (sometimes an Open Skies Antonov or a Yakovlev from the east). From the bigger ones you get the 777-300ER from Emirates, LOTs 787, UPS MD-11F, Qatar A330. Cargo operations: mainly during early morning hours (~6-7am) and late afternoon (~9pm). For details about the current situation don’t hesitate to send a question to the author.
New!!! Spotting holes available in the fence at some spots. See description of the spot if it has them or not.

Best way to get information about the schedule is at flightstats.com or the webpage of the airport. For exact light conditions I suggest visiting suncalc and checking the date and time that you are interested in spotting at, to see where will the sun be (your computer set time zone must be the same as the time zone in WAW [+1 winter, +2 summer]) for it to work properly)

At most spots there is no problem with parking a car nearby. If at a spot there is no such possibility, there is info about it in the part about the spot and tips where to leave your car if you need to do so. Also, a ladder isn’t necessary at most spots. For valid public transport timetable check the ztm page.

Written by Konstanty Dobrzyński / local (last update 30/10/2016) Main change: spots 1 and 6 are currently UNAVAILABLE!

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Airline Variety
Photo Locations
Weather
Airport Information Runways 33/15 29/11
3.690 m (12.106 ft) 2.800 m (9.240 ft)
Terminals Terminal A
used by every airline
Spotting Information Ladder Might be helpful at some spots for some shots but you can make it without one.
Car Not necessary, but it is faster to get around with one
Restrooms Not at the spots! Inside the terminal and restaurants (BK is nearest)
Drinks/Food Small shops at the terminal, a gas station near the terminal. Fast food restaurants close to Al.Krakowska (BK and McD), a couple of gas stations at Al.Krakowska. No way to starve when in the right region.
Hotels Hotels at the airport and in the city
Season All year is fine, however best are times in late spring, summer and early autumn. Nevertheless winter gives an opportunity for some nice lit photos and de-icing pictures.
Runway Usage  33 Mainly used for landings, sometimes the heavier planes depart from it.
29 Mainly departures. Landings only in heavy crosswind for rwy33
15 Mainly departures. Landings only in heavy crosswind for rwy11 and good visibility, or when the wind is calm and visibility very good. Usually only departures
11 Mainly arrivals.

CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE!!!
Spot #1 – stairway between arrival and departure levels – Photos of aircraft at apron 3, military apron
WHERE The spot is situated near the northern part of the terminal. When arriving by bus to “Lotnisko Chopina – Przyloty” direct yourself towards where you have arrived from. At the end of the terminal building you will find a stairway down to the arrivals level. You can take shots from the stairs or walk around to the fence if you need to.
WHAT Planes standing at their gates, at the military apron or simply pushing back or taxiing from/to their gates.
TIME All day long
MISCELLANEOUS Taking photos from this spot has been officially banned for everyone without a “Warsaw Spotter” ID. So when taking shots please don’t point them at the terminal area (especially the VIP one), don’t attract too much attention, people are generally friendly but you do not want to have any trouble. It might be windy. There is no place to park for free. Do not come to this area by car. If you need to park, there is the overall airport parking available in the area but it isn’t cheap.
FOCAL LENGTH 18(up close)-400 mm


Spot #2 – Coach terminal glass walls – stands 44/45 area
WHERE Just beside the coach station and the new cargo terminal. There is a couple of glass walls through which you can look at planes and perhaps take some shots. No place to leave your car for long.
WHAT Planes taxiing and standing at their stop. Possible looking on departing and arriving planes, not really a place to shoot them
TIME Night, morning (to around noon)
MISCELLANEOUS Usually there are vehicles, stairs, planes, containers blocking the way.
FOCAL LENGTH from 18mm (up close)


Spot #3 – Small cargo terminal – taxiway towards the runways.
WHERE Behind the small cargo terminal south of the bus terminal there is a small hut with a security guard in it, behind it there is a fence through which it is possible to take some pictures. Don’t worry, there is a barrier on the way. No place to leave your car for long.
WHAT Planes taxiing to/from the runways. Sometimes some on stands nearby.
TIME Early morning/night
MISCELLANEOUS There is a tree that might disturb. Lenses fit through the fence. Don’t worry about the guard.
FOCAL LENGTH 70+ [120mm the 737, 140mm the A310, 230 the A320]


Spot #4 – “Wirażowa” – de-icing and taxiing to rwy29
WHERE Just off the main road (Wirażowa street). You can park your car at the spot. Take a bus to either “Terminal Cargo” or “PKP Okęcie” stop. Both are on demand stops.
WHAT Planes taxiing to runway 29, planes during de-icing in winter.
TIME Night, mornings (until around 11-12 [summer] and 10-11 [winter] depending on the sun). (If the weather is bad – all day)
MISCELLANEOUS There is a nice parking spot here. The fence is spotter friendly, lenses easily go through. In the area (closer to the main road) there is also a little hill and a tree from which you can get a photo of the plane standing on the runway.
FOCAL LENGTH 18+ [for full lenght: 20mm for 773, 50mm for 738/A320/E190/E170]


Spot #5 – sidewalk – 29 arrivals
WHERE This spot is located on the sidewalk of the main road, possibly at a small bridge. Just beside the turn to spot 4. Easy to find from the “Terminal Cargo” bus stop. If by car, proceed to spot 4.
WHAT Arrivals on runway 29
TIME After ~11am [summer] ~10am [winter]
MISCELLANEOUS Light poles may be disruptive. Park your car in the region of spot 4. No ladder needed
FOCAL LENGTH 18+ [from photos below: Emirates at 195mm, Merlin at 70mm, the 737 at 125mm]


NO LONGER AVAILABLE – ongoing construction works.
Spot #6 – “Sewage treatment plant” – 29 departures and arrivals
WHERE This is a spot located near the sewage treatment plant (that’s where the name comes from 😉 ). To get there you need to pass a barrier and direct yourself towards the fence and to the corner. Trust your instincts when looking for the spot.
WHAT Landings on rwy 29 and departures with lining up for rwy 29
TIME After ~11am [summer] ~10am [winter]
MISCELLANEOUS You can park your car here, but there is an parking fee for the cargo terminal area, nevertheless first 30 minutes are free. I recommend leaving your car around spot 8 and walking here if you plan on staying here a longer time. A bush might get into your line of photo-shooting – but local spotters are working on getting rid of it or simply making it smaller.
FOCAL LENGTH 50+ [Vietnam at 86mm, Emirates at 180mm, for close taxi-by 20mm for A333]


Spot #7 – Express road overpass – 29 arrivals
WHERE A sidewalk on the overpass of Poleczki road over the express road and train rails. Near the bus stop “Osmańska”. Nearest place to leave your car at is spot 8.
WHAT Planes landing on runway 29
TIME After ~11am [summer] ~10am [winter]
MISCELLANEOUS Sand on the sidewalk.
FOCAL LENGTH 135mm for 767, 185mm for A320


Spot #8 – “Cargo”/ Apron 12 – 33 arrivals/Apron 12 action
WHERE Located near the Cargo terminal and apron 12. When traveling by car proceed all the way south beside the cargo terminal, you may park your car at the side of the road, then you must walk on foot. By bus: hop off at “Terminal Cargo” stop and walk south.
WHAT  Morning arrivals on runway 33 and planes standing at apron 12
TIME  Mornings and nights
MISCELLANEOUS After rain the ground likes to get muddy.
FOCAL LENGTH 787 at 22mm, E175 at 40mm, A320 landing at 180mm


 Spot #9 – “Technical road” – 33 arrivals
WHERE At a side, technical road (extension of Wirażowa street) near the express road. Southern part of the airport. You may park your car at the side of the road and leave it there. By bus: hop off at “Terminal Cargo” stop and walk south.
WHAT Morning landings on runway 33
TIME Before 11am [summer] or 10am [winter]
MISCELLANEOUS No need for a ladder, plenty room to park. In winter, snow can nicely reflect the light to the bottom of the planes.
FOCAL LENGTH 70+ [170mm for 737 from the road, Kalitta at 100mm]


 Spot #10 – Field – 33 arrivals
WHERE A field near runway 33 threshold. Continue driving/walking down the technical road until you pass the approach lights and make a 180 turn. By bus: hop off at “Terminal Cargo” stop and walk south. You may either park your car at the side of the field, near the approach lights or there is a spot on the field itself to which a path leads.
WHAT Evening 33 arrivals
TIME After 12pm [summer] or 11am [winter]
MISCELLANEOUS Might get muddy after rain. In winter, snow can nicely reflect the light to the bottom of the planes.
FOCAL LENGTH Depending on where you shoot from. [Ryanair 737 at 115mm, Emirates 777 at 210mm (front) and 135mm (rear)]


 Spot #11 – B8, runway 33 threshold
WHERE A spot located in the area of taxiway B8 and the end of runway 33. After arriving at spot 10 or 9 continue together with the airport fence. Can’t get there by car, Leave your car at spot 10 or 9.
WHAT Runway 33 arrivals and full lenght 33 departures
TIME After 12pm [summer] or 11am [winter]
MISCELLANEOUS Might get muddy, no shops nearby. B8 is now rarely used after completion of A8
FOCAL LENGTH 40+ [MD11 shot at 50mm, Aerosvit at 92mm, landing SAS at 135mm, Brussels 737 at 90mm]


Spot #12 – H1, new 33 threshold
WHERE This is a spot between some summer houses. Near the fences. To get there simply take bus #124 to “Ogrody Działkowe Paluch”, there should be a entry gate to the houses, get through it and continue towards the airport fence.By car: while driving al.Krakowska south, turn left at the first intersection after you have passed the freeway (it will be over you), turn left into Na Skraju street. Continue with the street until you pass the animal shelter (to your left) and then after the turn right look for a gate to the summer houses (also to your left) and turn there. Continue up to the fence.
WHAT 33 arrivals and departures.
TIME After 1pm [summer] or 12pm [winter], best in the afternoon
MISCELLANEOUS You might need a high ladder to pass over the fence, if not you must shoot through the holes in the fence
FOCAL LENGTH 50+ [landing 737 at 130mm, Wizz photo at 220mm]


Spot #13 – “Paluch”
WHERE The hill like structure is located at the brink of the forest. There are two ways of getting there.By car: while driving al.Krakowska south, turn left at the first intersection after you have passed the freeway (it will be over you), turn left into Na Skraju street. Continue with the street until you get to the animal shelter (to your left) and park your car there. Proceed as **   There is a bus stop for bus #124 called “Schronisko dla zwierząt” which is a on demand stop so you need to press the stop button on the bus or wave on it for it to stop.

** From the bus stop (or after leaving the car) continue north and there will be a hole in the fence, go through it and continue by the fence (The hole has been patched!). The other way is going more to the east, and then by a side road which will get you to a fence and a gate, pass around it and continue to the spot you desire.

WHAT Almost everything. 33 arrivals, 15 departures, in some way 11 arrivals and 29 departures. Best for the first two.
TIME Post midday. Best in the afternoon.
MISCELLANEOUS Nearest shops are far. Take what you need. You might need to walk through some bushes, don’t worry or fear.

Spotting holes available in the fence!

FOCAL LENGTH 150+ [A320 at 250mm, CRJ at 220mm, 787 photo at 300mm]


Spot #14 – Airport Firefighters station
WHERE It is located near the airport firefighters station, hence the name. To get there simply continue from spot 15 on with the road and you will find a road like path in the field heading to a radar. Take it. Then move on towards a couple of plane wrecks standing just beside the fire station. Might be a little bumpy for the car but fear only after big rains when the field is okay
WHAT Runway 11 arrivals and runway 29 departures. Taxiing to runway 11 (rare)
TIME After 11am [summer] or 10am [winter]
MISCELLANEOUS A bit of a walk to the nearest toilet or restaurant. Bring what you need. There is a hill with benches. You may park your car at the spot.

Spotting holes available in the fence!

FOCAL LENGTH  70+ [T154 at 165mm, A320 at 280mm, F100 at 300mm]


Spot #15 – A hill near Al.Krakowska
WHERE When on foot simply go towards the runway from “P+R Al.Krakowska” or when taking the bus to “Szyszkowa” stop (which is just beside Burger King) simply cross the road and move towards the airport, there will be a road (poor quality) just beside the fence which will get you to the hill.
WHAT All runway 11 arrivals. 11 departures and taxiing if in use (rare)
TIME After 11am [summer] or 10am [winter]
MISCELLANEOUS There is a hill at this spot so you are over the fence. You may park your car at the spot
FOCAL LENGTH 50+ [E175 side to side at 135mm, the B707 shot at 300mm,


Spot #16 – Al.Krakowska, 11 final approach
WHERE At Al.Krakowska, near the approach lights to runway 11. In between bus stops “P+R Al.Krakowska” and “Szyszkowa”. Easily accessible by foot, hard to park a car.
WHAT Runway 11 arrivals
TIME Basically all day. Spring/fall best around 6-7pm with the sun in the background
MISCELLANEOUS The road is a bit busy. There is grass you can sit on. In winter, snow can nicely reflect the light to the bottom of the planes. Hard to park your car in the area so better leave it at spot 15.
FOCAL LENGTH Rather short. The long ones only for far away approach shots [Q400 at 30mm, Aegean at 300mm, Emirates at 78mm]


Spot #17 – used car dealer
WHERE This spot is just beside a used car dealer. There is a bus and tram stop “Lipowczana” just beside. Also a petrol station and a McDonald is just couple of meters away if you need to go to a loo or get a snack. Easily accessible by foot. Not much space to park a car if the gate is closed.
WHAT Runway 15 arrivals. Sometimes heavy 33 departures might go out nicely.
TIME You can find something during the entire day.
MISCELLANEOUS The gate is not open the entire day or week, sometimes you might just need to stand on the sidewalk near the road. In winter, snow can nicely reflect the light to the bottom of the planes.
FOCAL LENGTH Runway overview at 240mm, Il-96 at 116mm, Aegean at 300mm, UPS at 78mm


Spot #18 – Viewing terrace
WHERE This spot is located in the southern part of the terminal, is free of charge. The sole entrance is located near the railway station entrance, between Terminal A and the coach terminal. You can get here with any public transport arriving to the airport. The only place to park a car is the airport parking (with a fee).
WHAT Good for watching operations. Photos of planes taxiing off the runway and/or to the runway, planes at their stands. You can not see the planes standing near the terminal. Only if the weather is cloudy and in the morning and the night.
TIME Photos only in poor weather, morning and night. Good for watching all day.
MISCELLANEOUS There is a thick, glass wall (tends to be dirty) which also isn’t perpendicular to the floor. There is a gift shop, a bar, a radar screen and the current timetable available.
FOCAL LENGTH Wizz at 115mm, Small Planet at 180mm, 787 at 170mm, departing Embraer at 300mm, KLM at 95mm


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