TLV-Spot1 / © Tony Goldin
Tel Aviv Ben Gurion (TLV/LLBG) is the biggest airport in Israel and the busiest airport in the country, located north of the city of Lod, which is about 45 km northwest of Jerusalem and 20 km to the southeast of Tel Aviv. The airport is one of two civil airports, which handles passengers, but the onliest one which serves regular international routes.
Ben Gurion airport was named after Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and is being used as a hub for Israeli companies like El Al, Israir and Arkia. Apart from this you can see a lot of other international passengers airlines, as well as quite a few cargo and GA flights. All in all TLV/LLBG is being visited by 23 million passsenger per year (stand: 2018) as it is the maingate to Israel.
On saturdays (almost) all aircraft operated by Israelitan airlines will stay on the ground and won‘t fly due to „Sabbat“ (holy day to rest in the Jewish religion)! Keep this in mind when planning some spotting here.
Written by Severin Hackenberger in cooperation with Timo Frieg and Tony Goldin (local spotter). Last visit/update: April 2019
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| (4 votes, average: 4.75 out of 5)|
|Terminal 1||Mainly used by holidayairlines Sun d‘or, El Al Up, Arkia Israel and Israir. Apart from this most low-cost-carrier.|
|Terminal 3||Mainly used by most El Al flights as well as Lufthansa Group, most intercontinental and GUS flights.|
|Ladder||Not needed and absouletely not recommended.|
|Car/Public Transport||Public transport in the arrivalpath areas is a bit poor, a car will be much easier anyway. Parking is normally no problem at the mentioned spots and the hot temperatures don’t invite normal people to walk long distances by foot.|
|Restrooms||In the terminals and nearby restaurants/gas stations – apart from those very rare public toilets.|
|Drinks/Food||In the terminals and in all the nearby gas stations, restaurants, supermarkets and malls.|
|Hotels||There are a lot of hotels in the city, but only some around the airport.|
|Season||Winter season might be better due to lower temperatures (= less heat haze), therefore the weather might be not as good as in the summer, where it‘s very hot and hazy.|
Around April you will have many charter flights bringing pilgrims due to Easter and Pesach – the exact flightdates depend on the dates of the religious festive periods.
|Security||– First, Scanners aren’t allowed in Israel due to safety reasons. The Usage of scanners can lead up to 5 years in jail!|
– Apart from this, expect visits from the security and sometimes even the police. Just be nice and explain them clearly what you do and who you are, but be sure to have an ID with you (if possible also the visacard you receive when entering the country) all time as otherwise sou will have a problem probably!
– The security “tries to keep away possible threats to the airport”, so don’t stand very close to the fence, rather use the spots we suggest as they are normally far enough to be seen as threat there already. Nevertheless, police and security services may check the spotareas as well!
– Take care of military or company properties with forbidden signs (for example the IAI property in the northeast) and avoid strange areas.
– Be sure to keep a low profile, but also to don‘t seem strangely secret especially in police-/securityeyes as they might suspect you to be a spy otherwise then.
– The animal variety in Israel is different as well. There are for example jackals at night; you will probably hear them when you are shooting at night in open places like airport city. They usually don’t attack humans but sometimes in israel there is a Rabies epidemic so its better not to shoot at night and try to avoid them.
– Apart from this there are also snakes in summer so don’t go on high weeds and grass, don’t lift stones and rocks and if you see a snake just stay there and try not to move when the snake is looking at you and then just go away gently and quietly. If its a small black snake that is going towards you and you see it wont stop, try to escape cause those are really toxic.
|General Info||Departures: Almost all airplanes are departing from runway 26 (during strong winds also 08 then) normally. But sometimes you might see departures from runway 30 as well.|
Arrivals: Morning arrivals are mostly done on runway 30 then from midday on a few hours on runway 21 (or still on 30, if the wind is like that) and in the evening/night on runway 30 or if the wind is calmer on runway 12 as well.
|Spot #1 – Viewing Platform|
|WHERE||Let’s start with the airport’s offical viewing platform, which can be entered through the airport’s driveway – this can only be entered through a gate, where the officers may ask you where you have been in Israel and where you come from now. They may also ask after your flight, but normally don’t check boarding passes – so you should be able to enter the driveway even if you aren’t going to your flight. Once passed the gate, just follow the road till it’s end and pass all along the terminal facilities of T3. Once you left all these terminl buildings and the apron on your right behind, the airport driveway (also known as “HaTeufa Blvd”) makes a 90 degree right turn ends up in “Tamar street”, which is supposed to lead one to a gate then, which is the entrance to the airfield. But before you reach this gate, turn left into “Ya’af street”, which leads you to the spotting deck then.|
Once you got to the place, you will see a metal ramp. You can go up stairs, take a chair and enjoy.
|WHAT||Arrivals onto runway 12 and 08 (second one is very rare). Apart from this departures from runway 26.|
|TIME||Depending on the used runway, but normally you will be able to spot something from late morning till evening, although normally the used runway will be only good till late afternoon.|
|MISC.||Car needed to get here. Heat haze can become a problem, nothing around.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||Depending on what you wanna shot you need totally different focal lengths here:|
100 – 500mm will cover most things
Spot itsself looks like THIS.
|Spot #2 – Gas station|
|WHERE||This spot is located at a gas station at the airport’s western end south of runway 08/26. Just drive to the (in 2019) Sonol gas station and search your favourite position around this building and property.|
|WHAT||Arrivals on runway 08 as well as departures on runway 26. Arrivals on runway 12 can’t be seen that well due to some objects north of gas station.|
|TIME||Almost all day, best from late morning till late afternoon.|
|MISC.||Most things you need can be bought in the gas station just next to you such as snacks and drinks, but you will also find shadow there.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||100 – 300mm|
B738 = 220mm / A330 = 160mm
|Spot #3 – Arcaffe|
|WHERE||This spot is located on the walkable top of “Arcaffe” north of the airport. Just park your car nearby th cafe and then you have to climb on the synthetic grass, which is on the buildings top (see overview shots below). They have kind of an unwritten agreement with us so everyone can climb there and shoot from there as the top is being used as kinda “terrace”.|
|WHAT||Arrivals on runway 12.|
|TIME||In the early morning hours.|
|MISC.||You can buy food and drinks from the cafe as well as you can find restrooms there. Would be worth to support this cafe as we can use their cafetop for spotting.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||70 – 300mm|
|Spot #4 – Ben Gurion St|
|WHERE||This spot is located inside a living area by the roadside. To reach this spot, drive on highway „461“ and exit this one at the first offical exit after its crossing with hudgway „40“. Then make your way up north through all the roundabouts until you don‘t reach „Ben Gurion David street“ on your right. Keave your car somewhere in this oneway street (from south up to north) and search your favourite spit here.|
|WHAT||Arrivals onto runway 21.|
|TIME||From late midday till sunset.|
|MISC.||Nothing here around. Keep in mind that you‘re in a livingarea with many pedestrians passing by and the IAI properties are nearby! Take care when spotting.|
Heat haze is a problem fast.
B738 = 410mm / F70 = 450mm
|Spot #5 – Field|
|WHERE||This spot can be reached best from the crossing, where highway „461“ ends up in highway „40“. Continue driving into eastern direction there and in the first roundabout take the second exit on the left into „Bnei Atarot Moshav“. Then park your car by the roadside and search your favorite position to spot from on the field or by the roadside as well.|
|WHAT||Arrivals onto runway 21.|
|TIME||From sunrise till midday|
|MISC.||Nothing really here, heat haze can be a problem here.|
B757 = 200mm / B737 = 270mm
|Spot #6 – Orangefield|
|WHERE||This spot is located by the roadside of an unnamed street, which connects highway „46“ and the airpirt city on the northern side. The position can be reached from the the south through the airport city or from the west – therefore you have to drove on highway „46“ northwards and take the unsigned exit on your right.|
It doesn’t matter from where you come, but follow the street until it makes a turn and where you can see a orangetree field on the other side of the curve (see spotmark on the map for exact position). Leave your car there nearby and search your favourite position here; it might be recommendable to go behind some bushes that suspicious drivers can‘t see you from the road such easy.
|WHAT||Arrivals onto runway 30.|
|TIME||From sunrise till late morning.|
|MISC.||All you need inside the nearby airport city facilities.|
F100 = 270mm
|Spot #7 – Airport City|
|WHERE||This spot is located next to kinda gas pipeline center, which can be found south of highway „453“. To be able to reach this spot you must drive eastwards on this highway and keep right, from where you have to take an unsigned exit on your right, shortly after you have passed a bus stop after crossing highway „46“. So once you took the exit, drive down onto the dirty area, park your car and search your prefered position- depending on the nearby powerlines and lamps.|
|WHAT||Arrivals onto runway 30.|
|TIME||From early midday till sunset.|
|MISC.||Keep a low profile here as you‘re by the roadside of a busy street, where many people could become suspect of your actions.|
Nearbiest facilities are inside the airport city. Heat haze may be a problem on hot days.
BAe 146 = 280mm / B744 = 160mm
|Spot #8 – Terminal Driveway|
|WHERE||This spot is located on the top level of the Terminaldriveway. It’s the 3rd floor here where you can either stand on the right or left side of the Terminalentrance depending on the time of day and what you wanna spot.|
|WHAT||Ramp actions and nearby taxiways. Runway 12/30 can be seen as well, but is quite far away.|
|TIME||Depending on the sight you wanna spot.|
|MISC.||Heat haze can be a problem very fast. Everything else you need inside the terminal and parking of course possible as well.|
Apart from this the security aspect might also become a problem as you are on airport property and may be seen as danger by security or/and police officers – so take care! Only once a spotter was sent away by security staff after 30 minutes of spotting as he was suppossed to have a “permission” for spotting here. Never heard of such an issue prior to that or afterwards again, but might be worth to mention. Just in some very rare cases they may ask you to leave but it’s barely happening. Normally security staff only approaches to make an ID check.