Plane Spotting at Kansai Airport

Being a fan of aviation, I took the opportunity to enjoy the complimentary observation deck at Osaka’s main international airport and it was a great experience to be so close to planes taking off and landing. I was almost blown away by the noise.

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The viewing gallery at Kansai International Airport (KIX) is landside, which means that you can only visit it BEFORE you check in and pass immigration. I guess you could check in and THEN go to the viewing gallery (minus your bags), but I didn’t think of that and actually took my luggage up there with me – a little awkward but it was till worth it. I was fortunate that it was a nice – albeit stuffy – late afternoon, and I had plenty of time to spare before my flight to Sydney, via Cairns, with Jetstar. There is a small café up on the viewing gallery, that served small cakes and drinks, and I bought myself a Coke (not very Japanese, I know). There is also a children’s playground outside and some edutainment inside the building itself.

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I could see that there were a few heavyweights landing in Osaka in the next few hours, including Korean Air, Emirates, Qatar, Thai, and Cathay Pacific, but mainly I saw regional airlines such as Air Macau and budget carriers like Peach. Of course, with KIX being their home airport, there were plenty of ANA and Japan Airlines aircraft too.

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The noise from the viewing platform was incredible. On both levels of the platform – downstairs and upstairs – I got great sights and sounds of the take-offs and landings of various types of aircraft. I didn’t see any of my favourite aircraft (the Airbus A380), but I did see plenty of B747s and a few B777s, including one from Emirates (above), plus loads of local narrowbodies.

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I was really enjoying myself up here in the KIX viewing platform but as the evening progressed the sun went down and it became very breezy. Some of the aircraft, such as one from ANA, really wobbled from side to side with turbulence as it fulfilled its final approach and landed on the tarmac. Soon, though, despite my enjoyment, it was time to head back down to the ground and take the shuttle bus back to the departures terminal. These buses leave every 20 minutes or so and are free of charge to and from the terminal.

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I didn’t like Kansai Airport inside too much, as it was too difficult to see the planes landing or taking off from the departures area, not to mention a lack of amenities for passengers. Still, it was getting late and I knew I had a 7 hour flight to Australia to get through, so I bought myself some Pocky (famous Japanese candy) and went to the departure gate. Next stop: The Great Barrier Reef!

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