Fort Lauderdale Intl. Airport Spotting Guide

Just 50 km north of Miami is the third biggest airport in Florida. Almost 27 Mio. passengers used the facilities of Fort Lauderdale in 2015 which makes FLL a very busy airport. JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit and Delta Airlines are the major carriers and responsible for most of the traffic. Silver Airways also operates a hub with their Saab 340s. International traffic has also grown more and more in the past with several new carriers electing to serve FLL. A handful of airlines from Canada, such as Air Transat, Sunwing, Westjet or Canjet operate regular charter services, especially during the winter season (often with leased aircraft). This might be the main reason for many spotters to visit the airport, as this is one of the best places in the US to photograph these airlines. Furthermore airlines from Middle & South America are regular foreign visitors, like Avianca, AZUL, TAME, Copa Airlines, Volaris, etc.. Also some airlines from the Caribbean Sea are a common sight. Condor and Norwegian are the only carriers from Europe. With the opening of the new runway 10R/28L spotting has gotten a bit more difficult, as traffic is now split (see Runway Usage below), but there is still a lot of traffic and you will still get tons of interesting aircraft and liveries at this airport.

Written by Julian Mittnacht, Maximilian Ono & Jan Seba / Last Visit Nov. 2016

 
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Airline Variety
Photo Locations
Weather
 
Airport Informations    Runways 10L/28R (North) 10R/28L (South)  
  2.743 m (9.000 ft) 2.438 m (8.000 ft)  
       
Terminals Terminal 1 (North) Terminal 2 (North)  
  United, Southwest, Allegiant Delta, Air Canada  
       
  Terminal 3 (West) Terminal 4 (South)  
  American, JetBlue, US Airways Spirit, Middle & South American opterators  
 
Spotting Informations  Ladder Not necessary, but very helpful at spot #2.
Car Necessary to reach all of the spots except #1.
Restrooms There are plenty of hotels, gas stations and restaurants around the airport.
Drinks/Food There are plenty of hotels, gas stations and restaurants around the airport.
Hotels The beach of Fort Lauderdale is not far away and you will find plenty of hotels there. But the closest hotels are in Dania Beach next to the I95
Season There is no special season but its very hot in the summer and heat haze can be a problem at some positions. Incoming charterflights from Canada mainly on Saturday and Sunday and mainly in the winter season.
 
Runway Usage  10L/28R This is the main runway in FLL and is used in both directions. It is mainly used by arrivals and departures to/from the North and all the legacy carriers. Airlines from Canada, like Air Canada, Sunwing or Air Transat also prefer to operate from here. Heavies like the AZUL A330 also use this runway. Southwest also prefers this runway as its closer to its terminal.
10R/28L The newly opened southern runway is shorter in length and used less. The primary users are Spirit Airlines, JetBlue (mainly for flights from the South) and some of the Carribean and Southern American airlines. Though there is no guarantee that they operate from this RWY, for example Carribean Airlines has been seen to land on both RWYs.

Spot #1 – Hibiscus Garage – 10L Departures, 28R Arrivals & Departures
WHERE As the name implies, this spot is located on the top of the Hibiscus Parking garage. Its easy to reach this place as you have just to follow the yellow signs to Terminal 1 parking. Use the elevator or the car ramp to reach the top level. Find a place to stay between the gap of Terminal 1 and 2.
   
WHAT The garage is located between Terminal 1 and 2 and offers a perfect view of the northern ramp action, as well as all movings of the main runway 10L/28R. Arrivings on 10L are possible too but usually aircrafts exit the runway earlier. 28R arrivals are better as the planes are sill in the air and you can shot them shortly before the touch down zone. Also 10L departures are perfect at this spot is pretty high and you will have the perfect angle from here.
   
TIME Great spot for almost the whole day. Backlit is possible within the summer months.
   
MISCELLANEOUS All essential facilities are inside Terminal 1 or 2. Keep in mind its very hot there in the summer so bring  water and sun protection with you.
   
FOCAL LENGTH 200-400 mm
   

Spot #2 – Official Viewing Area North RWY – 10L Arrivals & Departures
WHERE This is an official viewing area which is close to the threshold of 10L and the I-95. The spot is only reachable by car and is at the dead end of 39th street. From the I-95 leave at the Exit Griffin Road West and turn onto the Anglers Avenue and from there onto the 42nd Street. Take the first left into the Western Perimeter Rd and then the second right into the 39th street. There is a large parking lot at the location, where you can leave your car.
   
WHAT This spot is good for all RWY 10L Traffic: Departures, Arrivals and also taxiing aircraft to the RWY. In order to shoot over the fence there is a crash barrier with a couple of pillars to stand on. For arrivals the fence will never be visible in the image frame and departures should also work out if you are close to 6ft tall. The taxiway Charlie is located between the fence and the runway. Generally this is good when shooting taxiing aircraft, but they sometimes pass the location very rapidly, making it hard to get a good shot. This is also due to the close proximity, which will be a problem for larger aircrafts. Plus, if you are standing on the pillars, the fence will definitely be in the image frame. The outbound traffic can be problematic during departure peak times, when there are several aircraft waiting infront of you. They may obstruct your view but more problematically they can cause heat haze. A ladder would come in very handy for taxiing aircraft, as you can vary your position better and are also higher to avoid the fence for shots on the taxiway. When using a ladder, do not place it right next to the fence, as airport authorities do not like seeing this. For continious use of a ladder make sure to place it other side of the road closer to the parking lot.
   
TIME In winter, this spot is good for the whole day.
   
MISCELLANEOUS Airport authorities have placed a large speaker broadcasting ATC communication at this location. There are no facilities or food stores at this location, so prepare yourself.
   
FOCAL LENGTH Around 150mm for A320/B738s on the RWY. Less than 40mm for A320/B738 on the TWY.
   

Spot #3 – Anglers Ave – 10L arrivals
WHERE The spot is an alternative to #2 and is located at Anglers Ave next to some car reapair stores. From spot 2 after you have left the I-95 continue northwards on the Anglers Ave until you see the last buildings before the approach path of RWY10L. Park your car on the shoulder or in one of the side roads.
   
WHAT? Instead of spot #2 you see arrivals on 10L only! The advantage is that you don´t have problems with aircrafts waiting on the taxiway for departure and may be in your frame if you shot an arrival at spot #2. Here you have a clear background and no other disturbing objects.
   
TIME? In winter, this spot is good for the whole day.
   
MISCELLANEOUS There are some restaurants and a gas station south of your location at Anglers Ave.
   
FOCAL LENGTH 738 = 150mm
   

Spot #4 – Official Viewing Area South RWY – 10R Arrivals & Departures
WHERE Similar to spot #2, leave the I-95 at the Griffin Road, but head East here. After passing over a small bridge you can turn left at the first traffic lights. Continue on this small road for a few meters and then you will reach the huge parking lot for this location.
   
WHAT? Next to the parking lot is an elevated area with a handrail from where you can easily shoot over the fence for all RWY 10R movements. For RWY 28L movements, better use spot #5, as most of the departures will be too high here and arrivals will have already turned off the runway.
   
TIME? In winter, this spot is good for the whole day.
   
MISCELLANEOUS There are benches and lots of trees for shadow in the park.
   
FOCAL LENGTH An A320 on the RWY is just over 100mm and on the TWY it is 170mm.
   

Spot #5 – Walkpath – 10R/28L Arrivals & Departures
WHERE Use the driving route and parking lot as in spot #4. From there, you have to walk a few hundred metres along the asphalted path towards the east and along the RWY. There are always a few holes in the trees through which you could theoretically shoot, but keep on going until you get to a noticeably large and elevated area without trees, where you have a clean shot towards the RWY.
   
WHAT? This spot is pretty much usable for all RWY 10R/28L movements, but as spot #4 is more convenient it makes more sonse to only go here for 28L.
   
TIME? In winter, this spot is good for the whole day.
   
MISCELLANEOUS There are benches and lots of trees for shadow in the park.
   
FOCAL LENGTH Similar to Spot #3, just a few mm more due to slightly more distance.
   

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19 thoughts on “Fort Lauderdale Intl. Airport Spotting Guide

  1. Brad T

    I’ve spotted FLL a few times now but have never stayed overnight. Does anyone know about spotting the Hibiscus Garage at night. It is very similar to what we have at IAH. Just wondering if law enforcement or OPS has something set in place during the night hours.

    Thank you.

    1. JulianJulian Post author

      I personally never spot at night there. But I can´t imagine there is much action as you can only shot the ramp between T1 and T2. Guess the taxiway/runway is too far and you have moving object and less light there.
      But let us now if you have made some photos!

      -Julian

  2. Wojtek

    I had been in KFLL few times this spring. I only tried Hibiscus garage. It’s great for making Your condition better when running from the south to north 😀 I will visit KFLL also next year in April and will try other places!

  3. PJW

    Please does anyone know where you can watch the aircraft in Fll from a hotel window. The Hilton on Griffin Road has shut down
    and we are stuck to finding another one. Viewing was good from this hotel.

    Thanks for the info

  4. Pingback: Spotting en el aeropuerto de Fort Lauderdale

  5. Martin Stovey

    Great info. Just a quick question, do the authorities allow people to watch the planes from the top of the Hibiscus? Do you need to notify the local law enforcement office at the airport?
    Im visiting MIA this year from the UK and will try and visit FLL if I can.

    Many thanks
    Martin

    1. JulianJulian Post author

      Hi Martin,

      there is no need to contact the authorities in advance. Its a known place and used by planespotters frequently.
      I never had any trouble when I was there.

      Regards
      Julian

    2. Bryan

      To add onto Julian’s comment, not only is it a known place, but there are actually signs on the top level of the garage along the western end marked “Aircraft Viewing Area”.

  6. Bryan Daniels-Hepnar

    Just a quick follow up,
    Area 3 on the map works perfectly for me and I got some great shots. Although not as busy as the north runway, I was occupied for the two hours I was there and saw some interesting smaller aircraft.
    The car park is free! And the landscaping is great and clearly well thought. We took a walk along the path and I have planned my next spots for different perspectives.

    I think I will be a regular visitor and will also try the Hibiscus Car Park too.

  7. Bryan Daniels-Hepnar

    This is excellent information and I will be trying them out for photo shoots. I assume a telephoto lens is a must?
    Well done on this page! I found it very useful – Thanks

    it is so hard to find “spotter” friendly airports these days. I love taking photos of planes and used to love going to Heathrow and Gatwick airports when they had spectator areas on the roof’s – sadly no longer.

  8. Dart Humeston

    Excellent description of FLL, thank you very much for this. The map and photos are helpful too.
    I would only add that if you go in summer to location #1, top of the Hibiscus garage, bring fluids with you. (Water). The heat bouncing off the concrete can be unbearable. And I was born here!

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