HKIA’S SKY BRIDGE: BRINGING PLANE LOVERS TO A NEW LEVEL
Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) is one of the busiest airports in the world, and for aviation lovers, one of the best airports to view and photograph airplanes. One of its most iconic spots for aviation enthusiasts was the old Sky Deck at Terminal 2 Public side, which gave amazing views for both arrival and departures. Due to expansion plans for HKIA, the old Sky Deck at Terminal 2 was closed in 2021 permanently, depriving us of a convenient spotting location in Hong Kong.
All that has changed slightly, with the launch of HKIA’s iconic Sky Bridge in November last year. Sky Bridge is a record setting airside bridge that connects Terminal 1 to the Satellite Concourse, and its the world’s longest airside bridge which allows aircraft up to the size of an Airbus A380 to pass under. It is also large enough to fit an observation deck and a small cafe into the bridge itself. The view from Sky Bridge is simply breathtaking, with sections of glass flooring offering views of the airport and airplanes unlike anything from around the world, unless you are hovering above in a helicopter.
On my recent trip to Hong Kong, I managed to check out Sky Bridge & Sky Deck for a whole afternoon, and must admit, I was blown away by the view it offers. Here are five tips from my own experiences when shooting at Sky Bridge and the new Sky Deck.
1)To get there…
To get to Sky Bridge, you’ll need to be at Terminal 1 transit side, so plan ahead on your outbound departure flight to set some time to visit the location. The entrance to Sky Bridge is nestled between gates 12 and 24, so it is quite easy to find. Go up 2 flights of escalators and your would reach the bridge itself. The Sky Deck is located at the far end of the Bridge, near the escalator leading to the Satellite Concourse side.
2) Once you go black…
Shooting from Sky Bridge / Sky Deck means you will be shooting through tinted glass. It is reflections galore from up there. While the view is nice, reflections could spoil your shot if not managed properly. So, black paper, black jackets or a lens skirt is most useful when shooting from up there.
3) Wider the better?
Yes, I would suggest a wide angle lens for large aircraft passing under the bridge. A 16-35mm or even a 24-70mm lens on a full frame set up would offer versatility when shooting different scenes from Sky Bridge / Sky Deck.
4) Find the right spot
This tip is actually a two pointer, so bear with me. Most of the glass panels were dirty due to the near by construction of the new terminal buildings, so there were plenty of stains. It is still possible to shoot through but try to find a panel with lesser stains, or at least weaker stains so it won’t affect your image. For the overhead shots, take note that even if you align yourself to the taxiway markers, not all planes will be centred exactly to that line. So adjust yourself accordingly.
5) It’s always about the Light
Here comes the tricky part. Light direction is good for most parts of the morning and noon from the Sky Bridge itself. When it hits late afternoon, it will get backlit as the Sky Bridge faces west, meaning directly towards the sun. This could offer some unique backlit golden hour shots to try, aka Top Gun vibes. For Sky Deck, it faces 3 directions, so you have options when it comes to light conditions throughout the day.
Overall, Hong Kong International Airport’s new Sky Bridge is definitely a must visit for aviation enthusiasts, or even for travellers wanting to see something spectacular. It is not everyday you get to stand over a large aircraft passing under you. While the only restriction is that you need to be at airside to access the location, it is not a big hassle for overseas aviation lovers since most airlines can allow early check-in and bag drops at HKIA. So on your next visit to Hong Kong, be sure to check out the world’s longest airside bridge, it sure is an icon that sets HKIA apart from its competition.