London Heathrow’s Myrtle Avenue is possibly one of the world’s most famous aircraft spotting sites. A typical suburban street in the London Borough of Hounslow, the open grass area at one end and its proximity to the threshold of runway 27L, make it an excellent spot to take photos or just simply watch the aircraft. With just the A30 dual-carriageway between the grassland and the airport’s boundary fence, aircraft pass so low that you feel you can reach out and touch them!
Myrtle Avenue can easily be accessed via public transport, being just a five-minute walk away from Hatton Cross Tube station. 3 bus routes also serve the far end of Myrtle Avenue, which is just a couple of minutes walk from the viewing area. Although Myrtle Avenue can be accessed by car, I would strongly advise against it. Myrtle Avenue is a residential street and as such is primarily for residential parking. Unfortunately, some inconsiderate aviation enthusiasts park their cars in inappropriate places, blocking driveways or other access for residents. As such, if you are driving down to Heathrow for a spotting day, I’d advise parking elsewhere (Hatton Cross has a car park) and getting public transport to Myrtle Avenue.
As would be expected from an open area of grassland, there are no facilities provided at Myrtle Avenue, although occasionally an opportunistic ice-cream van will visit on a sunny day! The nearest facilities are the BP Petrol station between Hatton Cross and Myrtle Avenue. In addition to the standard petrol station food & drink, there is also a Subway franchise and hot food and drinks available. A coffee and hot sausage roll cost me £4.30, which whilst not cheap is quite reasonable for petrol station prices. Whilst the petrol station also has toilet facilities, I would advise making a purchase when using them so as to not abuse the hospitality.
As would be expected from Heathrow Airport, there is a wide range of airlines and aircraft types ranging from the workhorses of BA’s Airbus 319/320/321 fleet to the once a day visit from Air New Zealand’s Boeing 777. Generally, there is a long-haul rush twice a day, with flights from the US arriving in the morning and from the far east in the afternoon. Unfortunately, due to slot limitations at Heathrow, some of the more exotic international airlines are unable to serve Heathrow and use Gatwick airport of one of the nearby continental airports such as Paris or Amsterdam.
Unfortunately, when I visited in the middle of March to research for this for this post, it was a cold grey day and so I didn’t stay for long and my photos weren’t great. However, in my two hour visit to Heathrow, I saw a total of 78 aircraft landing, operated by 28 different airlines from 24 countries. Notable visitors included an Iberia A330 from Madrid, Avianca’s daily 787 service from Bogota and the first 777 I had seen in LATAM livery arriving from Sao Paulo. Alongside these widebody arrivals there were numerous narrow-body arrivals from across Europe including a Swiss CS series (A220) and Aer Lingus’ ‘retro jet’.
One thing to consider when visiting Myrtle Avenue is which runway Heathrow is using for landings. Depending upon the wind direction, aircraft will either be landing from the east (on 27 L or R) or from the west (on 09 L or R). If the 27s are in use, Heathrow has a runway alternation programme in place to reduce the impact on the local community. Week 1 means landings on 27L until 1500, when they switch to 27R, week 2 means landings on 27R until 1500 when they switch to 27L. Make sure you check (here!) before you visit as if aircraft are landing on 27R, you’ll be in for a rather disappointing visit to Myrtle Avenue. Obviously, Flightradar24 can be used to double check the runway in use when you get a bit closer to Heathrow.
Generally, whichever runway is in use at Heathrow, there is an unofficial viewing area for both take offs and landings. Unfortunately, as all are unofficial, none have facilities provided (although most are near a petrol station!) and you’re unable to get the apron shots you can get at many European airports. There is now an official viewing area within Terminal 4, however as it’s air-side, it is only of any use if you’re flying with one of the airlines that flies from Terminal 4. I will do a review on this eventually, when I get an opportunity to fly from Terminal 4.
Viewing location 3*
Charge (free) 5*
Variety of Traffic 4*
LHR (Myrtle Ave) Overall Score 3*