Spotting Report: A Long But Productive Transit at Beijing Capital Airport

Spotting Report: A Long But Productive Transit at Beijing Capital Airport

When I was booking flights to and from Phuket, I ended up booking Phuket – Beijing – Tokyo with almost 11 hours in Beijing with the hope of being able to do some spotting from the terminal. And, luckily, it worked out perfectly.

Night Spotting: Cambodia Angkor Air and More

While my original intention was to go into a lounge and sleep for a couple of hours after my 4AM arrival from Phuket, it didn’t exactly work out that way. Instead, when I saw the night photo opportunities, I decided to walk around the terminal to get some photos.

First, I photographed a JAL 787 waiting for its morning flight to Tokyo.

Japan Airlines 787-8 at Beijing Capital

JAL 787-8.

Then, I went to photograph a Cambodia Angkor Air A320 which was delayed from 3:30AM to (reportedly) 5:00AM. Even though I am sure the passengers were dead-tired by the time the flight started boarding at 5:05AM, I was certainly glad that the flight didn’t leave before my arrival from Phuket.

Cambodia Angkor Air A320 at Beijing Airport

Cambodia Angkor Air A320 featuring Cambodian titles on the right side.
Cambodia Angkor Air A320

…and English titles on the left.

Other than those two aircraft, I was able to photograph a couple more including the Emirates A380 and Air China 747-8 pictured below before it became too bright for night photos and too dark for daylight photos.

Emirates A380-800

Emirates A380-800.
Air China 747-8i

Air China 747-8i.

With the night shooting over, I decided to go to Air China’s business class lounge, which I will review later, in order to grab some breakfast before moving on to the daylight part of the spotting session.

Morning Spotting Session Near Gates E24 and E25

Once the sun came out high enough for daylight photos to be possible, I left the Air China Lounge and headed near gates E24 and E25 which were suggested by a friend as the best place to take photos airside at Beijing’s terminal 3 in the morning.

And, indeed, the location offered great views of some of the airport’s taxiways, as well as runway 18L/36R. There was also plenty of benches and even sofa chairs around to allow for a very comfortable spotting session.

In the early morning, the runway was mainly used for departures with some landings using the runway later in the day as well. Of course, Chinese carriers – especially Air China and Hainan Airlines – were prevalent.

Pretty much all aircraft types operated by Air China could be seen including the 747s. I was also able to photograph two of the airline’s 777-300ERs in special liveries.

Air China 737

Air China 737-800.
Air China A330

Air China A330-200.
Air China 777-300ER Special Livery

Air China 777-300ER in “50 Years of Chinese-French Diplomatic Relations” livery.
Air China 777-300ER

Air China 777-300ER in “Love China” livery.
Air China 787

Air China 787-9.
Air China 747-400

Air China 747-400.

Besides all of Air China’s passenger aircraft, I was also glad to photograph an Air China Cargo 757-200F.

Air China Cargo 757-200F

Air China Cargo 757-200F.

As for Hainan Airlines, there were a number of A330s and 737-800s, as well as some 787s and a single 767-300ER. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to capture any of the airline’s Kung-Fu Panda logojets.

Hainan Airlines A330-300

Hainan Airlines A330-300.
Hainan Airlines 737-800

Hainan Airlines 737-800.
Hainan Airlines 787

Hainan Airlines 787-9.
Hainan Airlines 767-300ER

Hainan Airlines 767-300ER.

Other “local” airlines that I was able to photograph, albeit in much smaller numbers, included China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Xiamen Air, Shenzhen Airlines, Capital Airlines, Shandong Airlines, and Sichuan Airlines.

China Southern Airlines A380

China Southern Airlines A380-800.
China Eastern A330

China Eastern Airlines A330-300.
Xiamen Air 787

Xiamen Air 787-9.
Shenzhen Airlines A330

Shenzhen Airlines A330-300.
Sichuan Airlines A320

Sichuan Airlines A320-200.
Shandong Airlines 737-800

Shandong Airlines 737-800.
Capital Airlines A330-200

Capital Airlines A330-200.

Finally, foreign carriers that I was able to photograph in the morning included ANA, Lufthansa, Air Macau, Asiana Airlines, Air France, and Air Koryo.

Lufthansa 747-8i

Lufthansa 747-8i.
ANA 787

ANA (Air Japan) 787-8.
Air Macau A321

Air Macau A321.
Air France 777

Air France 777-200ER.
Asiana Airlines A321

Asiana Airlines A321.
Air Koryo Tu-214

Air Koryo Tu-204-100.

Afternoon Spotting Session Near Gates E14 and E15

After having a quick lunch at BGS Premier Lounge which is part of the Priority Pass network, I headed towards gates E14 and E15 which were suggested to me as ideal for afternoon spotting. Unlike the morning spot, from here, one can see action on runway 01/19 as well as its adjacent taxiways.

Without a doubt, the highlight of the whole afternoon (and of the whole day together with the Cambodia Angkor Air A320) was a Tibet Airlines A330 that arrived from Lhasa.

Tibet Airlines A330 at Beijing Airport

Tibet Airlines A330-200.
Tibet Airlines A330

…and a side-shot.

Other than that, there were many more “B-registered” aircraft to photograph including many more Air China aircraft. The difference compared to the morning was that there were no Hainan Airlines aircraft since the airline does not use runway 01/19.

Air China 737-8MAX

Air China 737 MAX 8.
Air China A330

Air China A330-200 in Star Alliance livery.
Air China Cargo 747

Air China Cargo 747-400F.
Air China Inner Mongolia 737-800

Air China Inner Mongolia 737-800.
Air China 747-8i

Air China 747-8i.
Air China 787

Air China 787-9.
Xiamen Air 787

Xiamen Air 787-8.
Air China A330

Air China A330-300.

Finally, foreign movements included Air Japan and El Al 767s, Philippine Airlines A320, as well as the last movement that I photographed that day, a Singapore Airlines A380.

El Al 767-300ER

El Al 767-300ER.
Air Japan 767

ANA (Air Japan) 767-300ER.
Philippine Airlines A320

Philippine Airlines A320.
Singapore Airlines A380-800

Singapore Airlines A380-800.

After photographing the Singaporean A380, I briskly walked to my next flight’s departure gate. And, by the time I got there, the flight was already boarding. That is part of another story, though.

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