Zurich Airport observation deck – a day out

The Zurich Airport observation deck is one of only a handful of public viewing terraces at major international airports in Europe. And, in my view, it’s one of the best. Officially known as “Observation Deck B” or “Zuschauerterasse” it’s situated on top of one of the piers of Zurich airport’s Terminal B with an entrance next to check-in area 2.

Entrance is CHF5 for adults, but if you have a boarding pass for a flight the same day entry is free. It is also free for children under 10, with those aged 10-16 paying CHF2. For what you get I think this is excellent value.

Terminals A and B handle most short haul departures from Zurich along with some long-haul routes by Edelweiss. All these movements are easily observable from Deck B and the majority pass within easy range for photographs. Runway 16/34, the main departure runway for long haul flights passes directly in front of Deck B.

Zurich Airport holds another little surprise up its sleeve for aviation enthusiasts – Observation Deck E. This terrace is situated atop Terminal E, which handles most long-haul departures. It is a satellite terminal and normally only reachable by passengers airside. But, during summer months (April to October) it is accessible via a free shuttle bus on Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.

At other times, Deck E is accessible to passengers in Terminal E who are airside. Just a valid boarding pass is needed. If you are lucky enough to have access to Swiss International Air Lines lounges, then each has its own terrace area. First class passengers on Swiss can even enjoy alfresco dining on the terrace.

Widebody movements, including Swiss Airbus A330 and A340 and Boeing 777 use Terminal E and can be seen and photographed in close proximity. Airbus A380 operations by Emirates and Singapore Airlines also use the terminal. Runway 10/28, the main departure runway for short-haul flights, passes in front of Deck E, though photographers should note they will be facing South.

Photographs which follow were taken on a visit to Deck B in Summer 2018 and give a sample of what aircraft can be seen. Do you have a favourite current airline or aircraft at Zurich? Please comment below. Perhaps you remember past days of Swissair Douglas DC-8s, Caravelles and Convair 990s. Again, tell us what it was like below with all those turbojets roaring away.


Edelweiss Air Airbus A340 HB-JMF
Edelweiss Air Airbus A320 HB-IHX

Edelweiss Air is a subsidiary of Swiss International Airlines and operates a fleet of nine Airbus A320s and a handful of Airbus A330 and A340 travelling to mostly leisure destinations in Europe and intercontinentally (is that a word? It is now…)

Edelweiss is the unofficial national flower of Switzerland and adorns the airlines’ planes as part of their red and white livery which contrasts with their parent company’s modern, minimalist paint scheme.

Herpa 1:200 scale Edelweiss A320 model
Revell 1:144 Scale Edelweiss Airbus A320 Plastic Kit


Swiss Boeing 777-3DE(ER) HB-JNE

Zurich Airport is Swiss International Air Lines primary hub, particularly for long-haul operations. Its full range of aircraft types can be seen here. The fleet is dominated by Airbus products – A320 family, A330 and A340 – but Swiss has taken delivery of 10 Boeing 777s for its intercontinental routes. It was also the launch customer for the Bombardier C Series, which must now learn to call the Airbus A220 since the European conglomerate took a controlling stake in the C Series program.

As you’d expect for a major international airline, a wide range of models of the Swiss fleet is available in a variety of sizes and types. The links below are just a selection of what’s available from the likes of Herpa Wings and Gemini Jets.

Herpa Wings Swiss Airbus A319 model
Herpa 1:200 scale Swiss Boeing 777


Helvetic Airways ERJ-190LR HB-JVN

This small airline, based at Zurich, has a fleet of Embraer 190s and Fokker 100s that it operates mainly to leisure destinations. It also operates some wet lease flights on behalf of Lufthansa and Swiss.

Models of Helvetic Airways Embraers seem impossible to source, if anyone knows different please comment below. Their Fokker 100s have been around longer and models are available from the Herpa Wings range.


So much for the Swiss carriers, Zurich Airport also features flights from most major European airlines and some further afield to link this major banking city to the rest of the world.


Air Serbia Airbus A319-132 YU-APD

Air Serbia flies daily from Zurich to Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla airport with its Airbus family of airliners. Models of their A319 fleet are rare but this 1:50 scale display model is available.


Finnair Airbus A321-211 OH-LZE

This Finnair Airbus A321 connects Zurich with the Oneworld alliance member’s hub at Helsinki Vantaa airport. Gemini Jets produce a 1:400 scale model of this aircraft.


EasyJet Airbus A319-111 OE-LKO

Low cost carrier Easyjet can be seen all over Europe and Zurich is no exception. Models of its orange and white Airbus fleet are not as easy to come by as you’d think but a limited edition double set by Premier Planes is still available.


United Airlines Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner N27908

Swiss’ fellow Star Alliance member United operates its Boeing 787 aircraft to Newark, San Francisco and Washington Dulles.

Skymarks 1:200 scale United Boeing 787 model
Herpa Wings United Boeing 787 model


KLM Boeing 737-7K2 PH-BGK

KLM’s Boeing 737-700 fleet is being gradually retired to be replaced by newer 737-800s. Pictured is PH-BGK, a 700 series originally ordered by Transavia. Models of all three series, including the 737-900, are available in a variety of model formats.

Herpa 1:500 scale KLM Boeing 737-900
Skymarks 1:130 scale KLM Boeing 737-800 model


Iberia Airbus A319-111 EC-JDL

Shown above is an Airbus A319 from Madrid-based Iberia’s fleet. Models are available in both standard livery and Iberia’s retro scheme.


Air Canada Boeing 777-333(ER) C-FRAM

Air Canada links Zurich with Toronto and Vancouver with its Boeing 777.


American Airlines Boeing 767-323(ER) N397AN

I’ll say it again, I like American’s ‘new’ colour scheme. Here, one of it’s Boeing 767s takes off from Zurich bound for Philadelphia.


Germanwings Airbus A319-112 D-AKNJ

Germanwings has been being gradually absorbed by Eurowings since 2015 but aircraft in its own livery can still be seen, like this Airbus A319 at Zurich. Models in this livery are still available too.


Etihad Airways Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner A6-BLK

The so-called ‘ME3’ are seen at most major airports worldwide now and Zurich is no exception as this Etihad Boeing 787-9 shows.


Aeroflot Airbus A320-214 VP-BWD

No one seems to have made a model of this Aeroflot A320 in CSKA Moscow special livery, which is a pity. However, other Aeroflot A320 models are available.


Germania Airbus A319-112 HB-JOH

It’s not obvious from the name but Germania is a Swiss leisure airline based at Zurich operating to holiday destinations such as Corfu, Tenerife and Zakynthos. Less obvious destinations include Tirana, Albania and Beirut, Lebanon. They have just three aircraft including this Airbus A319.

Limox 1:200 scale Germania Airbus A319 model

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