Updated: Oct 24, 2019
EASY ACCESS AVGEEK HEAVEN!
Hong Kong Airport, with its easy access and a wide variety of airlines, makes it every avgeek's paradise in Asia. The views you get from there are unique and plane spotting there can be achieved with relative ease. For this report, I will talk about 2 easy and accessible locations for spotters travelling to and out from HKIA.
1) HKIA Viewing Deck
Located at Terminal 2 Departure Hall, Level 6 is the Aviation Discovery Center. Within the ADC, there are several aviation-related exhibits on display, as well as some graphics to show the history of aviation in Hong Kong. The star attraction of the ADC is, of course, the open-air, rooftop SkyDeck. The Skydeck is an ideal location for experienced and amateur spotters alike, with no fencing, glass or obstructions blocking, giving everyone a clear line of sight for aircraft landing on RWY 25R and RWY 25L, as well as departures when the airport uses 07 runway ops. For this location, recommend using long telescopic lenses. Most of the sample images below are shot on a Sony A7R2, using a 70-300mm lens, though some cropping might be needed as well. A ticket must be purchased for entry to the Skydeck at $15HKD, and can be bought from the counter at the ADC counter on Level 6. This is a public area, hence you do not need to check-in or pass immigration to access this spot.
2) HKIA Terminal 1 Departure Gates
After checking in and going through immigration, you will have arrived at the airside of HKIA T1. If you are an avid fan of photographing airplanes, this is going to be a wonderful place for you. The Departure hall is big, with lots of eateries, shops and lounges for travellers to have a fulfilling time before boarding. But for us avgeeks, there's only one thing we have in our minds; Planes. The thing I love most about HKIA is that the glass panels at the gates are not heavily tinted or curved, relieving the need for heavy colour correction in post. Also, you can get clear and unobstructed views of the aircraft at almost every gate, and the gates are not walled off individually making them accessible to all due to a centralised security screening system. Here you can get nice gate shots of aircraft with a wide angle lens, and I do recommend, if you are able, to catch sunset at HKIA as the golden light with the mountains at the background, and an airliner in the foreground makes for an amazing image. HKIA is one of the world's most busiest airports, and the variety of airlines + aircraft type is plentiful. You get a nice mix of US, Europe and Asian airlines from Airbus A380s to Boeing 747-8, all converging at this nexus point of Asia. Personally, I had a lot of "first times" here at HKIA, with airlines such as Virgin Atlantic and American Airlines etc. Shooting through the glass can be tricky, suggest you place your lens as close to the glass, and use a dark jacket to cover up the lens to minimise reflections, or if you can afford to, buy a lens skirt. If shooting at night, a low pod or something stable could be most handy.
This is not the end...
Of course, there are many more spotting locations in and around HKIA that i failed to mention, as some of those locations require bit of travelling or hiking. The Regal Airport hotel is another location that is not mentioned here, but will be featured in a separate review. This little write up was meant to showcase locations within the airport for spotters whom are travelling to Hong Kong for a holiday or even a work trip, and would like to spend some time aside to spot in his or her free time. Hope this was helpful, or at the very least, open you eyes to the lovely HKIA spotter's paradise.