The best airports to spot a Boeing 747 in September

Welcome to September, the month of back to school, Labor Day weekend and the official start of fall. While we might lament the end of summer, there are also plenty of reasons to be joyful, including the many opportunities to catch great plane action during the extended periods of golden hour.


And what plane better to spot than the queen herself? But with so many Boeing 747s no longer gracing our skies, the opportunities to spot a 747 have certainly dwindled. However, there are still plenty – in fact, according to Cirium data, there will be 9,681 flights operated by all variants of the Queen during the month of September.

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Around the world, 122 airports will see Boeing 747 action this month, so there’s plenty of opportunity to spot the jumbo. But which airport is best for your royal scouting efforts? We’ll take a look…


Best airport for most movements

In terms of aircraft movements, including passenger and cargo variants of the 747, the airport with the most flights in September will be Hong Kong. Although the airport has suffered badly from the COVID-related drop in passenger traffic, it continues to buzz as a cargo hub, with a total of 755 flights operated by the Boeing 747 in September.

Four airports will see more than 500 Boeing 747 flights in September. Data: Cirium | Chart: single flight

If you are lucky enough to spot HKG, you will be able to see the arrivals and departures of airlines such as Cargolux, Asiana, Polar Air Cargo, Silk Way West, Nippon Cargo and Korean Air. Most movements see the use of the 747-400, although Nippon, Silk Way and Korean also bring their 747-8. Cathay, of course, is the biggest operator here, with 258 747-8s and 170 747-400s.

A Hong Kong spot will certainly produce a few Cathay 747s, including the 747-8F. Photo: Cathay Cargo

For our European spotters, Frankfurt remains the best local airport to spot the 747. In total, the airport will see 698 such flights in September, the majority of which (understandably) operated by Lufthansa. Frankfurt is unusual in seeing a high number of 747-passenger operations, thanks to Lufthansa’s long-standing commitment to this type. He will fly the 747-8 and 747-400 on a total of 595 operations, 175 by the -400.

Frankfurt remains one of the few airports where you will regularly see passenger 747s operating. Photo: Fraport

Frankfurt will also see flights from Korean, Qatar, SF Airlines, Saudia Cargo, Cathay, Air China, Asiana and China Airways. In terms of types, a large number of 747-8Fs are scheduled to fly to Frankfurt in September, with Korean and Cathay using this type exclusively.

Incheon is only slightly behind Frankfurt in total moves and has a slightly wider range of liveries present this month. The total number of flights, according to Cirium schedule data, is 696, two less than FRA. Korean and Asiana have the lion’s share of operations, but you can also catch Polar Air Cargo and Silk Way here, which don’t land in Frankfurt.

Polar Air Cargo’s 747s go to Seoul, but not to Frankfurt. Photo: Atlas Air

Honorable mentions go to Shanghai, Taipei, Luxembourg and Anchorage, all of which see more than 400 Boeing 747 movements in September.

Best airport for variety

If you’re looking for a variety of liveries and aircraft types to spruce up your camera roll, the target airport changes slightly. While Hong Kong and Frankfurt might have the absolute most flights, two other airports top them when it comes to the variety of planes you can spot there.

Shanghai will see the most variety this month. Data: Cirium | Chart: single flight

At the top of the tree is Shanghai, where a total of 17 different aircraft types will fly during the month. Most commonly spotted is Suparma Airlines with its undefined Boeing 747 flights. This probably means he hasn’t assigned the specific aircraft type yet. It’s good to know that while it flies the -400F, -400BDSF, and -400ERF, the most abundant aircraft type in its fleet is the historic and somewhat rare 747-300F. In total, Suparma plans 133 flights from PVG in September.

Polar Air Cargo will bring its 747-400 for 66 flights, as well as its 8F for 4, while Air China Cargo will use its -400 60 times. China Cargo and Nippon Cargo will appear 51 times each, China with its -400 and Nippon with the -8F. You can also spot Asiana, Silk Way, Cathay (with both types of 747F) Singapore, ASL, China Airlines, Cargolux, Korean (with both types) and Lufthansa.

Next is the Dutch airport and the cargo super hub of Amsterdam Schiphol. AMS will see 15 different types of 747s in September, with some cool and somewhat rare spots popping up. Martinair is the largest operator, with 60 747-400 flights, while Singapore will land 26 times with the 747-400 as well.

KLM subsidiary Martinair is one of many 747F operators scheduled at Schiphol in September. Photo: Air France-KLM Cargo

In addition to all the usual suspects, Safari Air Express is due to operate 17 flights with its 747-400s, and you will also see Saudia Cargo with the same number of operations using its four 747-400s. AMS also sees Nippon, Qatar, Cathay, Silk Way, China Airlines and many more, and is a great opportunity to see a variety of 747s in action.

Honorable mentions here go to Hong Kong, Tokyo Narita, Seoul Incheon, Singapore, Frankfurt and Los Angeles, all of which have 10 varieties or more than 747 visiting this month.

Los Angeles is the 747 hotspot in the United States. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | single flight

Great for spotting in the US

Sure, not everyone has the luxury of flying to exotic locations to spot cool planes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a great show closer to home, either. In the United States, the top five airports to spot Boeing 747s are:

  • Los Angeles – 248 flights in September with 10 different visitors (9 operators, and Nippon Cargo brings both the 744 and the 748)
  • New York JFK – 135 flights with 10 operators
  • San Francisco – 107 flights with 5 operators
  • Miami – 86 flights with 3 operators
  • Chicago – 76 flights with 7 operators

Where is your favorite place to spot the Boeing 747? Let us know in the comments.

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