Barcelona El Prat Spotting Guide

The spotterguide.net crew presents you the newest guide; Barcelona El Prat! With 37,5 million passengers in 2014, BCN is the second biggest airport in Spain and always worth a visit!
The city is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe and airlines from all over the world serving El Prat. Due to its warm climate and the Mediterranean Sea just next to the city, charter traffic is one of the main constituents of BCN.
Especially flights from Russia getting more and more popular. Transaero, iFly, UTAir, Nordwind or Orenair are just a few operators flying to BCN. Due to the economic crisis in russia, it seems a lot of russian carriers discontinued their service to BCN. On the other site, low cost flights are a main pillar with frequently flights from Ryanair, Easyjet, Vueling or Norwegian. Other foreign carriers like Air Transat, Aerolineas Argentinas, Avianca and PIA are regular visitors. Especially this variety of carriers makes Barcelona very attractive just as the great weather and the beautiful city center. To get a detailed 24h schedule just visit the airports official website. There you find all flights/airlines as well as the aircraft type to be used.

Written by Julian Mittnacht & Gary Culpan / Visited 2012&2013

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Airline Variety
Photo Locations
Weather
Airport Information Runways 07L/25R 07R/25L 02/20
3.352 m (10.997 ft) 2.660 m (8.727 ft) 2.528 (8.293 ft)
Terminals Terminal 1 (new) Terminal 2 (old)
Vueling, Iberia, carriers belonging to an Airline Alliance most russian carriers, Easyjet, Ryanair, Charter Airlines
Spotting Information Ladder not needed
Car recommended as they switch the runways pretty often. By public transport there is a bus service (line PR3) to spots 1,2,6 & 7 in the summer, in winter the bus runs only until spot 2.
Restrooms you are surrounded by bushes and trees at many spots and maybe you’ll find a quiet place…
Drinks/Food there are no facilities next to the outer spots.
Hotels cheap hotels are next to Sant Boi, a 10 min car ride to the airport
Season we suggest Juni – September as this is the high season for the charter traffic, especially on Saturdays and Sundays from Russia
Runway Usage  07L/25R mainly in use for arrivals from both directions. Heavy planes (long haul) can departure from here too
07R/25L mainly in use for departures. Seems like they use it for some arrivals from both directions during the very early morning too
02/20 not in use during the Day. RWY 02 ist in use for Night arrivals only. 20 is not in use.

Spot #1 – Observation Platform – 25R Departures&Arrivals
WHERE Barcelona’s viewing platform is located at the road to the ‘Platja de El Prat’ at the threshold of RWY 25R. If you use a car just follow the signs to the beach where the road ends. You won’t miss the platform as you can see it from the road which leads along the airport perimeter. Park your car at the cemetery and walk to this spot. Don´t use the sandy lot under the approaching path.
By public transpot take bus PR3 (all year round) to the ‘Platja de El Prat’ and exit at the ‘Tanatori’ (spot #2)
WHAT You are on the top of a platform (appr. 3 meters high) and have a great view of the threshold of 25R as well as airports Terminal 2.You can shot easily over the fence for 25R departures, which are not very common and only used by heavy weight aircrafts.
TIME Best light conditions in the summer are between 7 am and 3 pm
MISCELLANEOUS There is no sun protection on the top of the platform but some trees and a bench will spend you some shadow.
FOCAL LENGTH 50-200 mm (you are pretty close to the runway!)

Spot #2 – Cemetery – 25R Arrivals
WHERE This one is pretty close to spot #1 and is next to some kind of cemetery/sanatorium called “Tanatori”. Easy accesable from the airport and the city of El Prat. Parking is for free and there are enough lots.
By public transpot take the same bus PR3 (all year round) that brings you to spot #1 or to the beach.
WHAT This spot is perfect when the light has turned and you can switch easily over from spot #1. But you will see the approaches only and no other airport action.
TIME Light conditions are prefect from 4 pm until evening
MISCELLANEOUS There is enough shadow and some benches too.
FOCAL LENGTH 100-200 mm

Spot #3 – Terminal 1 – 07L Arrivals&Departures, Taxiway
WHERE There is a balcony at the end of the depature level at Terminal 1, Concourse A. If you arrive by car, just follow the signs to Terminal 1 Parking and drive to Buidling F, which is the closest to Concourse A. Exit level 0 (arrival) to the left inside the parking garage and walk for a few meters to the escalator which will bring you up to the departure level. Exit the doors and you will already see the balcony at the end of the sidewalk.
WHAT Its a great place if you don’t have a car and runway 07L is in use for arrivals, which is not unusual. Another advantage of this spot is that all planes that park at the old Terminal 2 will use a taxiway behind the 07L threshold as the are not allowed to cross the runway directly (tagged on the map). Heat haze can be a problem for the arrival shots.
TIME Light conditions are prefect from 7 am until 3 pm in the summer
MISCELLANEOUS There is absolutly no shadow and no seating. A small snack bar and a toilet on the arrival level are just next to the escalator.
FOCAL LENGTH 50-300 mm

Spot #4 – Cargo – 07L Arrivals, Taxiways, Cargo Ramp
WHERE A flat area of ground near the cargo terminal (FedEx) next to the connection road between T1 and T2. You can park your car nearby. By public transtport use the free shuttle bus to Terminal 2 and walk to the cargo aera.
WHAT This spot is great in the afternoon when 07L is in use for arrivals. The landing shots from here are a little distant but good results can be obtained with 300mm zoom. Photographs of cargo aircraft parked up can be taken and aircraft taxiing past from Terminal 2 to take off on 07R can be photographed through the fence. It does get a little hazy in the summer though.
TIME Good spot in the afternoon.
MISCELLANEOUS There is absolutly no shadow and no seating. Bring the stuff with you!
FOCAL LENGTH 50-400 mm

Spot #5 – Terminal 1 – 25L Departures, 07R Arrivals&Departures
WHERE This spot is almost the same as spot #3. You will stand at the end of the Terminal on a very tiny balcony. Just use the concourse C Depature level instead of A to reach this place.
WHAT You see the 25L Depatures rotating (lighter planes are already too high) as well as the line up for 07R. 07R arrivals are not very common.
To get on a higher level, try to find a place on the top levels of the parking garage especially for the departures.
TIME Good spot in the afternoon.
MISCELLANEOUS There is absolutly no shadow and no seating. A small snack bar and a toilet on the arrival level are just next to the escalator.
Spot #6 – Tunnel/Beach – 25L Departures&Arrivals
WHERE To reach this place follow the road to the ‘Platja El Prat’ like you do to reach spot #1. Always follow this route until you pass the 07R/25L tunnel. After you passed a roundabout take the first exit and park your car at this road. Walk back to the roundabout and follow the footpath. Don’t use the sidewalk that leads to the tunnel! There is a small flat area with some benches where you can stay. By public transport use the same bus PR3 (runs in summer only, in winter ends at Tanatori/spot2) and exit at the ‘Camí de la Platja – Pineda de Can Camins’ and walk back a few hundred meters to the tunnel
WHAT This place is perfect for the 25L Depatures as well as for close up pictures of aircrafts entering the runway from the taxiway. You can climb up a small wall to be a little bit higher and avoid parts of the tunnel on your pictures. 25L Arrivals are possible too but this direction is not really common.
TIME Light conditions are prefect from 7 am until 3 pm in the summer
MISCELLANEOUS The are some benches to relax and some trees for shadow.

Spot #7 – Beach Viewing Tower – 25L Departures
WHERE From spot#6 just contiune on the road to the ‘Platja El Prat’. Once you arrived at the beach, keep right on the road parallel to the ocean until you reach the parking lot at the end of the road a few minutes later. You will see the viewing platform when you enter the lot.
By public transport
use the bus PR3 (runs in summer only, in winter ends at Tanatori/spot2) and exit at the final destination ‘Estació Rodalies’.
WHAT There is an official viewing tower and from the higher level you can easily spot the 25L departures. Very heavy aircrafts could be still too low at this position and its possible that you have some trees in your picture.
TIME Light conditions are prefect from 7 am until 3 pm in the summer
MISCELLANEOUS The are some benches to relax and some trees for shadow.

We made a quick stop at this known photo position but made no pictures. Otherwise we are thankful if you would like to share your photos with us from this location. Sample pic on Jetphotos.net

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20 thoughts on “Barcelona El Prat Spotting Guide

  1. Colin Reynolds

    Hello

    Can you advise me of a website that might give me details of specific aircraft identities on certain dates ?
    I transited through BCN on Wednesday 19th April and need help on id’s of aircraft on cargo ramp.

    Thanks

    1. JulianJulian Post author

      Hi, check FR24 when you are in BCN. You can list “aircrafts on ground” when you click on the airport icon.

      Julian

      1. Colin Reynolds

        Thanks Julian yes i was using FR24 a great app. However it’s only ok when the plane is “active” the one i was after was
        a all matt grey B767 on the cargo ramp which didn’t move all the time i was there.

        Thanks for response though

        Regards

        Colin

  2. Jett

    I went to spotting points 3 & 5, but I was unable to get ground stuff as there are glass buildings making a U shape either side, was I in the wrong spot? Was able to get departing aircraft though…

  3. paul fitzpatrick

    Hi Julian,
    Do you know what times the 2 balconies are opened at? And is there one better than the other.
    I am travelling there next Monday, 6th Feb.
    Kind regards
    Paul.
    Dublin.

    1. JulianJulian Post author

      Hi Paul,
      the balconies are no official viewing terraces and just belonging to the access ramp to the departures. So there are no opening times 🙂

      -Julian

  4. Yazn Achtar

    Hello, thank you for the guide, much appreciated!
    Is it possible to spot from inside the terminal by any chance ?
    i.e. if im travelling from the Iberia side to Madrid

    Thank you
    regards

    1. JulianJulian Post author

      Hi, I have no infos if its possible to spot form inside the terminals. But you can go out and visit the balconies, spot 3 or 5.

      -Julian

  5. nabil molinari

    Hi there

    i am in BCN for 3 days, i tried to follow your guide, so far i only spotted from the two balcony 3 & 5. the spot 1 & 2, there is no bus PR3 in winter, only in summer. i will take a taxi tomorrow to go there.

    1. Jan

      Hi Luc,

      unfortunately most of the Russians are gone now in BCN, but there are still a handful of flights from Rossiya, Royal Flight and Azur Air for example, which have been increasing recently. I believe Wednesday is a good day for Russian carriers but Saturday is also not too bad.

      Cheers
      Jan

    1. JulianJulian Post author

      Hi, its absolute okay and safe if you stay there during daytime. Its up to you if its worth to visit the airport or not. It can take some time to reach the positions by public transport.

      -Julian

  6. MOLINARI NABIL

    Hello fellow spotters

    I am planning to visit El Prat this week end, i don’t have a car, but i read that it is possible with public transport.
    Is it worth coming?

    Thank you

  7. Dave

    Careful if you come by car to spot 1 , never park at the sandy parking spot always at the parking of the cimitery.
    Especialy with foreign cars…..because the are eastern european gipsys mainly from Romania i think they break into the parked cars and take everything away. Especialy when siesta time. Very quiet moment.
    Police are nonchalant there.

  8. Edgar Filipe Gaspar

    Hello there,
    If you allow me, you can say there is available restrooms when spotting at the platform…we just need to walk back a few meters to the restroom..
    Cheers

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