Zürich Kloten Intl. Airport Spotting Guide

Zurich International Airport (ZRH / LSZH) is located 13 km north of Zurich. The center of Zurich (station Zurich HB) is easily accessible from the airport station, count between 9 and 13 minutes depending on whether you take a train or S-Bahn. The rest of Switzerland is well connected by train, for example, you have 3:00 to Geneva, Lausanne 2:30 to or less than an hour to Bern or Basel from Central Station. It serves as a hub to Swiss International Air Lines, and since the acquisition of Swiss by Lufthansa, is the third largest hub of the latter. In 2016 ZRH greeted 27.6 million passengers.

The airport has three airside piers, which are known as terminals A, B and E (also signposted as Gates A, B/C and E). A central air-side building called Airside Center, built in 2003, is directly linked to terminals A and B, which take the form of finger piers. ZRH has three runways: 16/34 of 3,700 m (12,100 ft) in length, 14/32 of 3,300 m (10,800 ft) in length, and 10/28 of 2,500 m (8,200 ft) in length. For most of the day and in most conditions, runway 14 is used for landings and runways 16 and 28 are used for takeoffs, although different patterns are used early morning and in the evenings.

If you enter “SPOTTER” into the search at the arrival/departures page on the airports website even business jets are shown with registration. Same for the app.

Written by Jeremy Denton, Paul Denton, Julian Mittnacht, Bruno Geiger & Omar Alex Saffe / Frequent visitors (last update Aug 2017)

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Airline Variety
Photo Locations
Airport Information Runways 16/34 14/32  10/28
3.700 m (12.139ft) 3.300 m (10.827ft) 2.500 m (8.202 ft)
Concrete Concrete  Concrete
Terminals Terminal A Terminal B  Terminal E
Domestic flights and flights to destinations inside the Schengen Area Both Schengen and some non-Schengen flights International flights
Spotting Information Ladder For spot 10, 11 and 13.
Car Except for spots 1-4 a car is recommend even if its possible to get to most of the other ones by public transport and by foot.
Restrooms At most spots there are toilets or next to it.
Drinks/Food Drinks and foods are available on spot “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 10”
Hotels There are plenty of hotels in all different price categories close to the airport.
Season I suggest April – September, chance of bad weather in winter is pretty high
Runway Usage (Mo-Fr) 06.00-07.00 (Sa-Su) 06.00-09.00 Landing Rwy 34
Departure Rwy 28 & 32
(Mo-Fr) 07.02-21.00 (Sa-Su) 09.02-20.00 Landing Rwy 14
Departure Rwys 28 & 16 (heavies)
(Mo-Fr) 21.00-23.59 (Sa-Su) 20.00-23.59 Landing Rwy 28
Departure Rwys 32 & 34

Spot #1 – Observation Deck Terminal B
WHERE By walk from terminal, check signs for Terminal B then Observation deck. Opening times: 09:00-19:00 in summer, 10:00-17:00 in winter. Entrance : Adults 5 CHF, kids 10-16: 2 CHF. Easy to get at this spot.
More infos on the airport website.
WHAT Departing on rwy16, taxiing to parking areas, parked at Terminals A and B. Private jets taxiing to the “Whiskey” positions.
TIME In Summer from 09:00 to 19:00. In Winter from 10:00 to 17:00.
MISC. Restaurant and toilets are available in the terminal.
FOCAL LENGTH 20mm – 400mm

Spot #2 – Observation deck Terminal E
WHERE Follow the way to Spot #1. The buses for this observation deck runs on Wednesdey, Saturday and Sunday and depart from Observation Deck Terminal B every 30 minutes between noon and afternoon. Check the airport website for exact operation hours! Closed in the winter.
WHAT Departing rwy16 and rwy28, taxiing to rwy16.
TIME As you can photograph different angels usually you can stay here the whole day.
MISC. Vending machines for snacks, drinks (warm and cold) and toilets
FOCAL LENGTH 100mm – 200mm
Spot #3 – Car Park P3 – RWY 34
WHERE From inside the airport, you’ll find elevators to the Car Park P3 in the rearmost corner of the food court, near the train station. Follow the signs to the uppermost floor.
Its a little bit tricky to shoot from here because there is a mesh (to prevent birds to fly into the garage).
WHAT Arriving rwy34, taxiing, parked and maintenance.
TIME Due to the sun´s position the light is okay between spring and autumn only.

Arrivals 34:  Mo-Fr. 06:00 – 07:00
Sa-Su  06:00 – 09:00
Departures 16:  09:00 – 11:00
Taxiway: 06:00 – 11:00

Runway usage is not really long here so its only useful in the summer during the weekend for 34 arrivals.

MISC. Lots of shops, restaurants and toilets are available inside the Terminal.
Don´t cut holes into the mesh!
FOCAL LENGTH 50mm – 400mm

Spot #4 – Car Park P6 – RWY 28
WHERE By walk, exit terminal 1 to the east (possible on both, arrival or departure level) and proceed straight ahead. Enter the first large parking garage you see and get to the uppermost floor.
WHAT Arriving and departing from rwy28 and taxiway to 28.
TIME In winter the spot is good for the whole day. In the summer month there can be a lot of heat haze during midday.
Summer taxiway to 28:  09:30 – 16:30
Sommer lineup on  28: 10:30 – 19:00
MISC. Shops an Restaurants are available in the terminal. Restrooms within the parking garage on the main floor.
FOCAL LENGTH 100mm – 300mm

Spot #5 – Heligrill – RWY´s 16 and 28
WHERE By car, from the Park Inn Hotel take on the right, direction north then take the first exit also on your right and continue strait until the end of the road. You will see the Heligrill place. Please park your car along the road on the grass.

+++ UPDATE SEP 2016: There are ongoing constructions and the holes in the fence are no longer available. Therefore a new spotter hill has been build! Stay tuned for more infos +++

WHAT Taking off rwy16 and 28, taxiing to rwy10  (rare) and south apron.

Due to the ongoing works, the landscape isn’t as great as before due to a lot of fences, trucks, dirty stuff and unfortunately we are more fare away from both runways so now during summer the chance of heat haze is high.

TIME Summer times:
Take off Runway 16: 13:30 – 20:00 (Used for widebodys to 16:00)
Take Off Runway 28: 10:00 – 16:30 (heat distortion)
Taxi to Runway 10: 11:30 – 16:00 (rarely in use)
Taxi to South Apron :13:30 – 19:00 (heat distortion)Winter times:
Take off Runway 16: 12:30 – 16:00 (Used for widebodys to 15:00)
Take Off Runway 28: whole day
Taxi to Runway 10: 9:30 – 16:00 (rarely in use)
Taxi to South Apron :12:00 – 16:00
MISC. Basic toilet facilities, foods, drinks and tables.
FOCAL LENGTH 200mm to 400mm

Spot #6 – Firefighters’ Hill – Line-up 16, takeoff 32
WHERE From spot 5, exit the road “klotenstrasse” take the “Flughofstrasse” on the right, drive until the roundabout, continue strait. You will arrived in a village and from the first houses, take the third small road on the right called “Hüttenrain”. Go strait and turn right on 5th road “Im Hof”, continue strait until the “do not enter” sign and park on the side of the road.
WHAT Lin-up on runway 16 and take off on rwy32 (rare). During summer, heat haze is pretty high at this spot.
TIME Summer Times:
Lineup Runway16: 13:30 – 20:00 (Used for widebodys to 16:00)’
Takeoff Ruwnay 32: 14:00 – 20:00 (rarely in use)Winter Times:
Lineup Runway16: 12:00 – 16:00 (Used for widebodys to 15:00)
Takeoff Ruwnay 32: 13:00 – 16:30 (rarely in use)
MISC. Nothing, bring what you need before coming here.
FOCAL LENGTH  100mm – 400mm. 250-500mm for 32 takeoff.

Spot #7 – Route 90
WHERE From spot 6, exit the road “Im Hof” then “Auf der Balen” and turn on “Bülachstrasse” on the right. Continue straight next to the fence and exit the road on the right. You will see many people, cars, snacks so you can´t miss it.
WHAT Arrivals on runway 14.
TIME Summer: 14:00 – 20:00
Winter: 13:00 until sunset
MISC. At this spot, you have everything you want. Toilets, drinks, foods and chairs.
Parking is free up to 5 hours and a parking disc is needed if you plan to leave your car.
FOCAL LENGTH 55mm – 300mm

Spot #8 – Spotter Hill – Final Runway 14
WHERE This is another offical viewing area. From spot 7 continue along the Bülacherstrasse direction east and turn on the first small road on the right, go straight until the car park. There are parking signs on the
WHAT Landings rwy14 only.
TIME Summer from 07:00 to 11:00. No light in during the winter!
MISC. Grill station and toilets. First not open every day! Parking is free up to 5 hours and a parking disc is needed if you plan to leave your car.
There is a McDonalds in Bülach city (see map) with free WiFi.
FOCAL LENGTH 70mm – 200mm

Spot #9 – Final Runway 14
WHERE From spot #8, walk for ~8 minutes on the small path in the grass until the hill.
Here you are on an elevated position to shoot over the fence. The light is reflecting from the ruwnay so light its a bit better here, even the angel.
WHAT Landings rwy14 only.
TIME Summer from 07:00 to 11:00
No light in during the winter!
MISC. Nothing, bring what you need before coming here but #8 is very close. Parking at spot #8 is free up to 5 hours and a parking disc is needed if you plan to leave your car.
FOCAL LENGTH 70mm – 200mm

http://www.spotterguide.net/images/numbers/Number_10.png Spot #10 – SR Technics
WHERE The parking at the end of rwy16 is located next to the SRTechnics apron. A ladder is highly recommended – with a little luck, shooting through the fence is possible, too.
WHAT You may be able to get a shot if a maintenance visitor is parked the right way. Mostly home airlines for maintenance. Air Caraibes is a normal visitor for maintenance, Qatar Amiri as well for the big checks, and some other AIrlines too.
TIME The Afternoon
MISC. Nothing, bring what you need before coming here.
FOCAL LENGTH 80mm – 150mm
http://www.spotterguide.net/images/numbers/Number_11.png Spot #11 -Touchdown Runway 14
WHERE From spot 7, drive on Bülachstrasse direction north, you will cross the highway (51), then turn on the right on Zürichstrasse for about 3minutes and finaly take on the right and park your car along the way next to the bridge. Walk about 10 minutes on small ways.
WHAT Excellent point for touchdown runway 14.
TIME Summer from 07:00 to 11:00
No light in during the winter!
MISC. Nothing, bring what you need before coming here. A ladder is needed here.
http://www.spotterguide.net/images/numbers/Number_12.png Spot #12 – Hélipad
WHERE By car, from the Park Inn Hotel take on the right, direction north then again the first exit on the right. Continue strait to the end of the road. Park your car next to the road. Then pass the spotter hill by walking along the fences until you will be in front of the helicopters and business jets. Pictures can easily be taken throw the holes.
WHAT Only helicopters and business jets parked in front of the fences.
TIME Best light from midday to sunset.
MISC. Toilets and foods are available at the héligrill restaurant.
http://www.spotterguide.net/images/numbers/Number_13.png Spot #13 – W Apron
WHERE From the spot 5 (Héligrille), drive back to the “Flughofstrasse”, pass the Park Inn Hotel and the McDonald’s continue direction south and exit to the right where you will see a sign “TOR 150”, “Im Rohr”, “Flughafen Zurich AG”. Then you will cross the road, take on the left sign “TOR 130” and “Im Rohr” until the roundabout take the third exit continue strait on then on the right you will have some free parking places.
WHAT Only aircraft who are parked on the Whisky apron. A ladder will be necessary to get good shots.
TIME All day, depends how the aircraft is parked. For example, the 319 is good in the late morning and early afternoon and the 748 in the end of afternoon and early evening.
MISC. Nothing at this spot, bring with you what you need.
http://www.spotterguide.net/images/numbers/Number_14.png Spot #14 – Field
WHERE From spot 6, exit the road “Im Hof” then “Auf der Balen” and turn on “Bülachstrasse” on the right. Continue strait next to the fence and exit the road on the right, you will see many people, cars, snaks and parking area. From there walk by following the small path through the field and find the good location that suits you the best.
WHAT Afternoon arrivals on runway 14.
TIME Summer: 14:00 until sunset.
Winter: 13:00 until sunset.
MISC. Nothing at this spot so bring with you what you need. Or walk to the spot 7 where you will be able to get some foods, drinks and toilets.
FOCAL LENGTH Hawker = 460mm / 320 = 290mm / 757 = 170mm / 380 = 116mm

WEF (The World Economic Forum) 23-28 January 2018
WHERE Starts at spot 1.
WHAT Tarmac pictures can be taken from a bus tour at spot 1. Check in November in Google “WEF RAMP TOUR ZRH” and check the buchairnet.ch website to buy tickets to made this ramp tour. http://buchairshop.ch/webshop/ramptours_2015/en
TIME 6 days from 08:00 to 18:00. They also organised some night tour.
MISC. Nothing, bring what you need before doing the trip.
FOCAL LENGTH 18mm to 200mm is enough

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8 thoughts on “Zürich Kloten Intl. Airport Spotting Guide

    1. JulianJulian

      Its more far away than before so you need at least 200mm as stated in the description. 70-200 is not enough as you can photograph departures only from the grill.

  1. Douwe

    Hi everyone,

    I will be at ZRH 12/13th August and Holiday Inn express is our base; I think 10 min walk to helgrill / spot 5

    How do I get from Heligrill to Spot #7 – Final Runways 14 ? is that with public transport or can I walk ?

    1. JulianJulian

      There is a bus stop at #7 if you check google maps. Its bus line 504 which runs from the train station at “Oberglatt”. Latter is connected with your hotel.

  2. Tobias

    There is also a great tour which is offered by the airport and you can book it on the visitor deck. Try to go on the tour at the time when the A380 will arrive, so they will drive you to a great spot to catch it! It’s really worth it and the costs are also low.

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