Hello all... I have just returned from a trip to the USA and can confirm the situation on the following airports.
Boston Airside : Spotted from the AA
pier for about 1 hr 30 mins without problem. I think i got lucky though as when i was boarding my flight i saw a group of 4 TSA
officers heading down the end of the pier to where i had been. Looks like i just missed them. Seems that as i had my wife and kids with me they maybe thought i was not so much of a threat.
Fort Lauderdale (Hybiscus Car park) : Spotted for a whole day 08.00 - 18.00 without any problems. The top level has an official aircraft viewing area and the Broward Sheriffs & TSA
do patrol the area on a regular basis. TSA
did stop and watched me for about 30 min to check on what i was doing but did not approach me. 4 Sheriff patrols also drove by and looked at me, but just carried on. One word of warning. I would not bother trying to spot from anywhere else apart from the car park. Security is very high with many stop and searche + patrols all over the airport. Unless you are in an Official viewing place you WILL be moved on !!!
Fort Lauderdale (Airside) : Started spotting with my kids with me and within 5 mins i had a nice lady from AA
asking what i was doing. It seemed that within that time 3 passengers had reported me !!!!! I told her i was a spotter from the UK and she was very polite and asked for my boarding pass to confirm i was on a flight. After i had shown her this she went on her way to tell the passengers who i was. Depending on what side of the fence you sit these people are either great citizens doing a job helping security. Or a complete bunch of paranoid idiots who need to have a good look at how a terrorist and a plane spotter work. Do they realy think that a terrorist would stand their in broad daylight (with his family) in full view before he would attack... Anyhow i can see both sides of the story and as she let me carry on i was not going to make a big thing about it. One thing that did make me laugh was an American chap who came over to me after this happened. He said we was very sorry at what he had just seen. And it was the most ridiculous thing he had ever seen. In his words "Jesus some people are just going over the top. I do hope this did not spoil your holiday,were not all paranoid." So the story is spotting seems to be allowed,but be prepaired to get hassle.
) : Now this was fun. I got to the airport at 07.15 to get my "Special plane spotting documents" at the info desk. I then found out the only place i could get these was the main Orlando airport Authority office in the central terminal. I went over to this office to then find it did not open until 08.00. After a 40 minite wait i went inside and waited for a nice man to come down. He told me to fill in a form (which i did) and then on his return again i had to give him my passport. All this took another 30 mins. He did stress that if i had called the day before that all of the paper work would have been ready. All a bit of a fuss for a bit of plane spotting,but soon to be worth its weight in gold. I at last got to the 9th floor of the central car park at 08.45. As other people have said the view is no good at all if you wish to take pictures. Thats unless you have a lens the size of a tree trunk. OK
for spotting though, so i was happy. Within 30 mins a TSA
cop came up to me with a "what the hell do you think your doing" look about him. I handed him my nice piece of paper (which he looked at about 5 times,with a rather puzzled look) and then said thank you and went on his way. That moment was priceless, Spotter 1 , TSA
0 !!!!!! Then after another 2 hours i noticed a women with a pass watching me. Here we go again i thought , and i was right. In about 5 mins an Orlando Police officer was with the woman and heading my way. The woman had a right old "Im a sheriff bit" about here. The cop come up to me. Before he could talk i asked him if he wanted to see my permit. Sure he said , and i again passed him the document. "Fine sir have a good day" came the reply. You should have seen the womens face, it was a picture, and well worth the 45 mins sorting out the document. Even as i walked away i could still hear her moaning with the cop just saying "hes got a permit". Classic !!!!!! Spotter 2 - Cops and Joe public 0. So the story for spotting is get a pass otherwise you won't stand a chace !!!
Chicago (Airside) : Spotted without problem on the AA
pier for 2 hours without problem....
All in all a very good trip with over 700 aircraft logged. Hope this helps anyone who may be thinking of a visit to the USA.
Canon 1D Mk III,Canon 20D+17-40 L f4.0,70-200 L IS USM f2.8,400 L USM f5.6,135 mm L f2.0, 50 mm f1.8,1.4 x II extender