Tag: Plane Spotting

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This Deserted Caribbean Beach is Aruba's Secret Site for Plane Spotting

December 17, 2014 at 3:48 PM | by | ()

It's paradise, pure and simple. A deserted beach of white sand gently melting into clear, azure water. The waves are mere ripples, the water is of that desired "bathwater" warmth, and airplanes whizz directly overhead in the sunny sky. Welcome to one of the best, most undiscovered plane spotting locations in the Caribbean: Renaissance Island, Aruba.

It's no St. Maarten Maho Beach, but the experience will appeal to dedicated plane spotters who prize unique locations and a range of aircraft for indulging their hobby. Even sunbathers should make the easy nature walk from the Renaissance Island's developed beaches down a path to this spot, which we discovered this month while on a trip to the Southern Caribbean.

Pack your swimsuit, camera, mosquito repellant, sunscreen, and footwear a little more substantial than flip flops, and let's go...

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Why We Love Hong Kong's Airport So, So Much

Where: Hong Kong
November 7, 2013 at 10:07 AM | by | ()

We've been to a few airports around the world and seen our fair share of those that are poorly designed or are operational nightmares. One airport that's the opposite of all that and manages to take our breath away is Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok.

As the world's 12th busiest airport, Hong Kong is a major hub linking the East to the West, so you can only imagine what kind of plane-spotting can be had. Cathay Pacific calls this place home, but other airlines make sure to show off some of their biggest and best aircraft as they parade around the terminal. If you're lucky to arrive flying Cathay in a premium cabin, you also get access to their arrival lounge.

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Make a Mid-Century Modern Dream of a Long LAX Layover

September 16, 2013 at 11:45 AM | by | ()

Layovers are really what you make of them. Either they're spent draining your phone battery while scrolling through your Twitter feed, or they can be filled with the adventure of exploring a new airport and making the most of a few hours before your next flight.

We recently faced this very dilemma at Los Angeles International Airport to the tune of about 7 hours, so after checking-in for our next flight we headed to the iconic Theme Building in the middle of the terminals.

If you've flown into LAX or even just seen photos of the terminals, then you've likely spotted this spaceship-like building keeping a watchful eye on the airplanes and gates. Originally built in 1961, the mid-century modern design is a throw back to the glamor days of travel, but it's practical as well, featuring an observation deck to give travelers a 360-degree view of the entire airport. Inside the building is a restaurant, Encounter at LAX, but the hours of the outdoor deck are limited to the weekends.

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Making a Weekend on St. Maarten Happen: What To Do

February 28, 2013 at 5:28 PM | by | ()

Wondering when is the right time to jet down for a long weekend on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten? Right now, that's when. We did it and you can too, easily. All this week we'll be sharing the details on making the dream of sunning, sipping cocktails and spotting St. Maarten's notoriously low-flying planes a reality.

Everyone knows Maho Beach, where the airplanes land within a few hundred feet of the SPF-slathered bodies of gawking tourists, but there's more to St. Maarten than that. Rest assured that we'll bring you an entire guide to making the most of Maho tomorrow, but we can't forget the food and frolicking of other nooks of the island.

Here's four long weekend activities on St. Maarten (aside from plane spotting):

Clothing optional sunbathing

Look, St. Maarten is a tropical island split into French and Dutch sides, so prude land this is not. The most famous of the "clothing optional" beaches is Orient Bay, though it's quite a long drive which can be a challenge if you're only planning to spend a long weekend on St. Maarten. Still, the is very welcoming for ladies who prefer to tan au naturale, and Maho Beach's Sunset Bar & Grill famously lets topless ladies drink for free.

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Making a Weekend on St. Maarten Happen: Where to Stay

February 26, 2013 at 6:48 PM | by | ()

One of the Sonesta's two pools has this awesome view of Maho beach & the end of the runway

Wondering when is the right time to jet down for a long weekend on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten? Right now, that's when. We did it and you can too, easily. All this week we'll be sharing the details on making the dream of sunning, sipping cocktails and spotting St. Maarten's notoriously low-flying planes a reality.

We're going to give it to you straight: the toughest bit of a planning travel to St. Maarten is figuring out a hotel that won't break the bank and isn't too far away from the good plane spotting at Maho Beach. The high season of winter takes hotels near sold-out levels, prime properties that look like hotels are actually condos or time-shares, and the island doesn't have an abundance of nice hotels as it is.

All that being said, there are a few to consider:

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Making a Weekend on St. Maarten Happen: How to Get There

February 25, 2013 at 11:38 AM | by | ()

Wondering when is the right time to jet down for a long weekend on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten? Right now, that's when. We did it and you can too, easily. All this week we'll be sharing the details on making the dream of sunning, sipping cocktails and spotting St. Maarten's notoriously low-flying planes a reality.

First off, you gotta get to St. Maarten. It's an island, by the way, so access options are limited to air and sea. Believe it or not, a nonstop flight from the US east coast to St. Maarten takes just over four hours; that's less than flying coast-to-coast and just a little less than going to Ireland. We know where we'd rather be.

For your reference, here's the Four Ways to Reach St. Maarten:

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Snap a Plane Photo That's Not so Plain, and Win $2,500

February 18, 2013 at 9:09 AM | by | ()

If you happen to be traveling to the Caribbean island of St. Maarten near the end of March from the 18th to the 23rd, you might be able to earn some cash from all the pictures you'll be snapping. $2,500, to be exact.

We've told you before about the infamous Maho Beach at Princess Juliana Airport—perhaps the most intimate airport in the world for those who aren't catching a flight. The St. Maarten Tourist Office is hosting an aviation photography contest for both amateurs and professionals to see who can capture the best "aviation action" over the island. First place will win $2,500, and judges will select six photos to be put on display in the arrival hall at Princess Juliana.

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Wish You Were Here: Plane Spotting at Maho Beach, St. Maarten

February 5, 2013 at 8:46 PM | by | ()

Tease! A group of guys in town from a cruise ship pose before an American flight from MIA zips into SXM

A huge hello from the Dutch/French Caribbean island of St. Maarten/St. Martin, perhaps better known as aviation geek paradise. Taking a little of our own sage advice, we pounced on one of the 80% off JetBlue #NYCFlightWeek airfare specials released last week, to find ourselves now transported 3.5 flying hours south of New York City. It may be 34 degrees on the East Coast, but it's 84 where we stand—which just happens to be right underneath arriving aircraft, at the famous planespotting destination of Maho Beach.

Joining us on Maho Beach? Oh, just about 1,000 others on this extremely busy day. We'd say about 90% are here for the adrenaline rush of having a Boeing 747 charge you straight-on, only to zoom some 100 feet overhead as it lands at the island's Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM).

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Why St. Maarten's Island Airport is Only Getting Larger and Awesomer

January 21, 2013 at 2:37 PM | by | ()

SXM. It's an airport code every avid traveler should know because it's more than just an airport; it's a kickass, bucketlist destination on its own.

SXM is Princess Juliana International Airport on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten, aka the one that's split between Dutch (St. Maarten) and French (St. Martin) and aka the one that has what is arguably the best up-close plane spotting in the world. Photos and videos of the extremely low over-beach landings at St. Maarten are almost a YouTube genre in themselves.

While SXM has been a hotspot for plane spotting, island hopping and nude beaching (that last one on the French side!) for decades, it only got a modern terminal back in 2006. Now the airport will update to the tune of $132 million, which is roughly equivalent to half the draft budget of the entire St. Maarten government. So yeah, it's kind of a big deal.

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Awesome New Coffee Table Book: '800 Views of Airports'

January 8, 2013 at 1:14 PM | by | ()

It's a little too late to make any holiday wish lists, but the new photo book 800 Views of Airports belongs on your coffee table if you're reading this.

It's a glossy tome of 408 pages, all presenting the photography work of Swiss duo Peter Fischli & David Weiss who, for more than 25 years, snapped photos of the airports wrapped up in their travels. Plane spotters before "plane spotters" was a term, Fischli & Weiss often focus on the long-haul aircraft but also turn their lens towards the tarmac activities of ground support vehicles and orange-vested airport employees.

The official publisher description gets a bit flowery: "Whether presenting a Lufthansa airplane sitting idle in a yellowy light, a Swiss Air plane waiting in a neon-haunted dusk or an Air France plane getting its belly filled in the dead of night, Fischli and Weiss's images present the evanescence of any national identity when reduced to a symbol on a vertical stabilizer."

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Double the Plane Spotting Fun at Düsseldorf Airport's Deck Duo

August 16, 2012 at 1:54 PM | by | ()

If your heart races and your palms sweat and your stomach is all a-flutter at the mere thought of getting up close and personal with some big, slick airplane bodies, then you should probably check out our series on Prime Planespotting. But wait just a moment, as we've got a huge addition to it right here: the Observation Deck at Germany's Düsseldorf International Airport.

First off, even without the deck the airport is awesome. It's our favorite alternative (when the price is right) to other airports like Frankfurt, Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam, being a totally reasonable train ride away from all of those (and the airport has its own long-distance train station—chaching!). Second off, it's elegantly designed and a pleasure to travel through.

Our only issue comes from arriving at DUS from the US, which usually means tromping through a terminal at 6am, bleary-eyed and with no desire to go "explore" until hotel check-in time. What to do?!

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Some Airports are Just Made for Plane Spotting

August 8, 2012 at 10:31 AM | by | ()

We admit to heading to the airport with a few minutes to spare so we can watch airplanes take off and land. Sometimes we get lucky and we spy a new aircraft of a foreign carrier or just one in a new paintjob. On a recent trip to the tropical island of Hamilton Island in Queensland, we took note of the proximity of the airport to...well, everything.

While chowing down on a seafood lunch, we watched a Boeing 737 so close we could practically see the whites of the passenger's eyes peering out. So naturally, we hopped in our golf cart —there are no cars on the island—to get a closer look. This place sees some arrivals from Qantas, Virgin Australia and Jetstar, with most flights arriving around the same time.

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