Blog. Britain's Busiest Airport

The world’s most romantic spots … for plane spotters

Valarie waits in Arrivals to meet boyfriend Kazumasa in person. How will things unfold? Find out in Episode 5

In Episode 5 of HBBA4 we saw aviation enthusiasts Valarie and Kazumasa meet for the first time after an online romance, and plan a Valentine’s Day plane-spotting trip near Heathrow.

We can’t argue with their choice of venue. But if you too seek a romantic spot with the added bonus of LOADS OF PLANES to watch, here are some more ideas for your kiss-and-fly adventure.

Let us know in the comments if you think we’ve missed a good one.

1. Isle of Barra, Scotland

Mysterious and wild, splendidly remote, with ruined castles, pristine deserted beaches and archaeological sites — what could be more romantic than this Outer Hebridean isle? Aircraft landing ON THE BEACH, that’s what.

Barra Eoligarry Airport is the only one in the world where scheduled flights use the beach as a runway. While this means no flights at high tide, and you certainly won’t be counting airliners in their hundreds, the experience of landing on the sands in an 18-seater turboprop Twin Otter is surely hard to beat.

Just don’t take that dreamy stroll on Traigh Mhor beach when the windsock is flying!

2. Phuket, Thailand

With its with mix of rocky and sandy beaches, tall cliffs, forests, waterfalls and temples, Thailand’s Andaman Sea coast draws everyone from backpackers to jetsetters and beach bums to Scuba divers. The island of Phuket (say it with a hard ‘P’) is the area’s holiday hub, and a more perfect honeymoon location is hard to imagine.

Of course, the chance to watch airliners from around the world approaching Phuket International isn’t to be missed either. For that, you’ll want to spend time on the sands at Nai Yang or Mai Khao, where you can relax all day as jets of every shape, size and colour pass over on approach.

The sunsets are worth waiting for, too.

3. St Maarten, Caribbean

This is the famous one, of course – Maho Beach with its golden sand, turquoise waters, shaded bars and yes, the roar of jets coming in to land just a few metres overhead. It’s probably on every aviation geek’s bucket list.

The runway at Princess Juliana International is right next to a narrow strip of beach, where at peak times plane spotters line up to feel the power of the passing jets’ engines. As for romantic opportunities – it’s the Caribbean?

St Maarten (the Dutch side of the island) has most of the best resorts and hotels, while the French side, St Martin, is less developed but more scenic. The island itself is renowned as the gourmet capital of the Caribbean, and has energetic nightlife to match.

4. Washington DC, USA

Cherry blossom in spring, autumn leaves in 1,000 shades of red and gold, landmarks to the big events of US and world history … America’s capital certainly has all you could wish for in a romantic break. Including planes, you ask? Oh, yes.

Gravelly Point Park, on the banks of the Potomac River in Arlington, is the place to be if all this history is lacking something in the aviation department. In one direction there’s a great view of downtown DC, in the other is the airfield at Reagan National Airport.

A few metres overhead you can expect aircraft every few minutes, arriving from all corners of the USA.

5. London Heathrow (of course)

Wait, it’s not just us saying so. Whether Valarie and Kazumasa knew it or not, they’re in good company. There’s a reason the final scene of Love Actually was filmed here, and it’s nothing to do with Hugh Grant’s floppy fringe. Heathrow is where the world connects, and people reconnect.

But what about the aircraft, we hear you ask. Well, if you’re departing from Heathrow you’ll find plenty of runway-watching opportunities in Terminals 2 and 5, and at our View Heathrow viewing lounge in Terminal 4 (where you can even still see a retired Concorde). How about making a date of it at Gordon Ramsay’s T5 restaurant?

The romantically inclined may want to investigate the view of the Northern Runway offered by rooms on the higher floors of the Renaissance Hotel in Bath Road (find prices here).

And if you’re not travelling, we’re given to understand that Myrtle Avenue, Feltham, is London’s answer to Gravelly Point. We’ve also installed a purpose-built viewing area in Northern Perimeter Road, next to Heathrow Academy.

Doubt the romantic potential? Don’t take our word for it — just ask these two enthusiasts from Series 3 …

Heathrow: Britain’s Busiest Airport

Series 4: Wednesdays on ITV1

The documentary cameras return for a behind-the-scenes look at the people who keep Heathrow running. Meet air traffic controllers, sanitation engineers, Border Force officers and front-line Passenger Experience Managers – and share their daily challenges in this ‘city within a city’ where no two days are alike. Tune in on Wednesdays from 2nd May.

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